(Oh please, let the answer be YES!)
As a matter of fact, it CAN BE. And with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, that’s great news! Some chocolate does actually have properties that can help protect your teeth. And we have the science to back it up.
Polyphenols are micronutrients with antioxidant activity that are found in dried spices, fruits, vegetables, red wine, and cocoa, and can help reduce inflammation, cholesterol, and high blood pressure, as well as protect against heart attacks and strokes. They play an important role in preventing and in reducing the progression of diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases. They also serve as a prebiotic, increasing the ratio of beneficial bacteria in your gut, which is important for health, weight management, and disease prevention.
In regards to oral health, polyphenols can assist in reducing inflammation, which could equate to a lesser incidence of gingivitis.
Not only does the yummy texture of cocoa butter help make chocolate taste velvety and luxurious, it also helps coat the teeth when we bite into our Valentine treats. This helps prevent plaque from sticking to the teeth after eating it.
In addition, cocoa beans are a high-antioxidant food, and some of these antioxidants remain in cocoa butter even after it’s separated from the beans’ solids, making it beneficial for improving immunity, lowering inflammation, and improving heart health. And lower inflammation means healthier teeth and gums.
Surprising new research now shows that cocoa husk has antibacterial properties that can actually boost the mouth’s ability to fight off the bacteria that cause tooth decay, and offset the destructive effects of sugar on teeth. Unfortunately, most of the husk is thrown away in the production of most chocolate, but it could one day be added to dental products like toothpaste to help keep teeth healthy naturally.
Before you get too excited…
Most chocolate we consume today is so loaded with sugar and calories that the benefits we gain remain minimal. You should check the ingredient labels on your chocolate to see how much sugar it contains, and maybe even be proactive in discussing “healthy” chocolate choices before your significant other goes shopping for Valentine’s goodies. Studies show that dark chocolate is much healthier than milk chocolate or white chocolate. Luckily, our options for quality dark chocolate have greatly improved over the last few years, as the news of it’s health benefits spread.
So this Valentine’s Day, enjoy that decadent (dark) chocolate, without the guilt!