Dental Health Info Article

Learn How Leafy Greens can Help Fight Oral Cancer on

Leafy greens have always been considered one of the best foods to eat for dental health. Scientific research has concluded that vegetables such as bok choy, Swiss chard and collard greens are not only excellent sources of calcium, but the vegetables have been proven to reduce the odds of oral cancer developing in the mouths of female smokers.

The Cancer Risk Vegetable Connection

The British Dental Health Foundation released the findings. Scientists analyzed data collected over the past 26 years surrounding 147 confirmed cases of oral cancer. Based on their introspective it was shown that for every one serving of green leafy vegetables consumed by the current women smokers, the risk of oral cancer decreased significantly. The findings did not stand true for women who never smoked or had already kicked the habit.

This is not the first study showing how leafy greens have the power to fight cancer. Leafy green vegetable consumption was proven to introduce protective factors against lung cancer in current and former smokers (National Cancer Institute [NCI]). Steven Belinsky, Ph.D. of the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute headed up that research that analyzed mucus samples in relation to the diets of test subjects. Those who ate more leafy green vegetables had a reduced probability of high methylation. Methylation (the chemical involved in gene replication and modification) is believed to be a major factor in lung cancer development and progression. High levels of the chemical can also be used to catch lung cancer during its earliest stages.

Dental Health Benefits of Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are known to be chock full of minerals and vitamins and have long been promoted as being part of a nutritious diet. The nutritional powerhouses have the healthy kick needed to protect eyesight; minimizing problems associated with aging and are considered a rich source of calcium for vegetarians who need to minimize their chances of developing gum disease. When it comes to the oral cancer/leafy green connection experts believe the high levels of phytochemicals in the food group provides the disease-fighting boot.

Phytochemicals (AKA Phytonutrients) are naturally occurring, plant based chemicals that are easily be ingested to benefit the human body. The compounds are rich in anti-oxidants and have been clinically proven to cause cancer cells to die and repair DNA damage caused by smoking. The type of phytochemical in a food is categorized by the color and leafy greens are filled with lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, carotenoids, flavonoids and beta-carotene.

Popular Leafy Greens

Picky eaters concerned about their dental health and smokers looking to minimize their risk of developing oral cancer are advised to get over their fear of eating green foods and learn to love nutrient packed vegetables. The food sources are readily available and easy to prepare, even for those finicky palates. Kale, beet greens, bok choy, Swiss chard, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts are all excellent sources to get a nutritional boost. Some tips for getting the most dental health benefits of leafy greens include:

  • Go Organic: Modern day farming allows for harmful pesticides and chemicals to be sprayed on food and when deposited on leafy greens, they are extremely difficult to remove. Even after washing leafy greens, there are still high levels of chemicals left behind.
  • Stuff Your Sandwich: Instead of using iceberg lettuce on your next tuna sandwich, substitute raw spinach for the nutrients.
  • Roast Kale: Kale is one of the healthiest greens out there; unfortunately many individuals do not know how to eat the treat. One delicious recipe comes from Vegetarian Times and involves washing the greens, coating in a small bit of olive oil and slow roasting at 325 degrees for about 20-25. Individuals need to flip the greens during the cooking time and lightly salt when done. Once complete, the kale will be as tasty as potato chips, minus all the guilt.
  • Make a Quiche: The fact is, real men (and women) eat whatever they want, and protein rich quiches are can hold a myriad of healthy greens inside.

Regardless of the perks associated with leafy greens, kicking the smoking habit or never picking up in the first place is the best way to minimize the chances of developing mouth cancer.

Individuals interested in improving their diet for dental health can get even more ideas from their dentist. If you can't remember the last time you went to see your dentist, the time is now and 1-800-DENTIST can connect you to a screened dentist, well up to the task of assisting you with your oral hygiene needs.