Food is one of life's basic necessity. While supermarket shelves are lined with countless options, not all of them are part of the Government's nutrition plate and in fact can actually be detrimental to dental health. As more American's are finally embracing the philosophy of "you are what you eat" the demand for healthful foods has skyrocketed, and so has the price tags associated with the choices. Fortunately, not all good food is expensive and some of the best options for teeth can be had for pennies per serving.
Annually, the United States Department of Agriculture's crunches the numbers to determine the price per serving (defined as a cup) of natures' bounties. There research has indicated that some of the best choices for dental health are far less expensive than the soda, processed carbohydrates and foods that compete for dollars. Results from the research released in 2011 indicated that the average prices for 153 commonly consumed fresh and processed fruits and vegetables ranged from less than 20 cents per serving to more than $2 per serving. Below are some of the foods that provide the best dental health boosting benefits as determined by 1-800-DENTIST.
Apples have earned the nickname of nature's toothbrush for good reason; the fruit are naturally crunchy, fibrous (5 grams per serving) and have mild acidic quality surrounding them. The design of this fruit is not only perfect for enjoyment, but by consuming the fruit (with skin), individuals can actually remove dental plaque build up and mild tooth stains with minimal effort.
Over 2,500 apple species are grown in the United States and each one has its own flavor, texture and color. Regardless of what type of apple, the fruit is the second most valuable crop produced by America's farmers as estimates suggest that the average person consumes more than 46 pounds of apples and apple products on an annual basis. That trend is fueled by several factors including availability and a low price point starting at 28 cents per serving.
Bugs Bunny is not the only fan of chomping on carrots. Munching on the tubers are known for promoting health especially for skin, eyes, digestive system and teeth. In regards to oral health, the benefits of munching on baby carrots is twofold. Since the food is fiber dense, the crunchy nature will gently remove excess dental plaque deposited on teeth. Additionally the food is also known for killing harmful oral bacteria and helping to prevent tooth decay.
Carrots are a root vegetable that most commonly are orange, but also come in shades of purple, red, white, and yellow. Regardless of the color chosen the food is high in fiber, an excellent source of beta-carotene, Vitamin A and are inexpensive. Individuals can by bunches of carrots, wash and peel them and serve the food to their families for 25 cents per serving. Even the grab and go options of prepared baby carrots has a low price point of only 40 cents per serving. No matter what options is chosen, snacking on them raw will provide the best teeth-cleaning benefits.
Lentils are neither fruits nor vegetables, they are classified as legumes high in fiber, rich in calcium (that supports blood clotting, transmitting nerve signals and for mineralization of human bones) and other nutrients essential to dental health such as protein. Beans and legumes are natures' animal free protein source, an essential nutrient for ensuring cellular function and for carrying enzymes needed to naturally warding off dental problems.
This particular legume comes in a variety of shades as well included yellow, black, brown and green; when sold dried, the latter costs only 15 cents per serving. Dried lentils are easy to prepare, simply pull out any debris that may be in the mix (like shells), rinse, drain and then boil in either salted water or vegetable stock for 2 to 3 minutes and simmer until tender (that can range from 10 to 60 minutes, depending on the legume). Then the protein rich food can be eaten on salads or converted to veggie patties, soups or dips.
Individuals looking to incorporate these foods and still stay on budget can easily do so by making a grocery list (broken down into a must and lust sections) and sticking to it at the store. Then instead of meandering aisle by aisle, individuals should first load the cart with the must items included these cheap eats for dental health and other dental friendly foods such as sugar free and low fat yogurt and dairy foods, other fruits and vegetables, whole grain pastas and breads. After accounting for those expenses, buying lust items (cookies, cakes, friend potatoes, etc.) with the spare change will help round out the equation and keep spending on track.
Individuals looking for more food-friendly ideas to promote dental health can get the best advice from seeing a dentist in person. A dentist can examine the entire oral cavity for health and well being and will provide patients with an honest assessment of dental health. The dental care expert can see the signs of a weak diet on teeth as they can spot the cavities, tooth decay and gum disease indicative of a poor diet and dental neglect. A dentist can also deliver the dental treatments necessary to repair the damage done and 1-800-DENTIST can connect anyone in need to a dental care expert up to the task.