Study Finds Raisins Can Be Good for Oral Health

Dishing up high-fat ice cream to keep the weight off? No way.

Mixing a cocktail before a long drive home? No way.

Popping handfuls of a sweet, sticky snack to protect your teeth from cavities? Go for it!

New research counters a longstanding public perception that raisins promote cavities. In fact, it suggests the contrary.

"Phytochemicals in raisins may benefit oral health by fighting bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease,” says Dr. Christine D. Wu, lead author of a study at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry.

Phytochemicals are antioxidants found in plants. One of the five phytochemicals the study identified in raisins is oleanolic acid. In the study, oleanolic acid inhibited the growth of two species of oral bacteria: Streptococcus mutans, which causes cavities, and Porphyromonas gingivalis, which causes periodontal disease.

"Foods that are sticky do not necessarily cause tooth decay," says Dr. Wu. "It is mainly the added sugar - the sucrose - that contributes to the problem. Moreover, raisins contain mainly fructose and glucose, not sucrose, the main culprit in oral disease."

For more information about diet and oral health, visit the American Dental Association Web site at "www.ada.org/public/topics/diet.asp".

Please contact the ADA if you have questions about this article.

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