Calcium-Rich Foods: What to Eat for Healthier Teeth

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Even if you brush and floss regularly, you could be neglecting an important component of oral health: your diet. The things you eat and drink contribute to the health of your mouth, with some foods offering more benefits than others. Consuming calcium-rich foods is one of the easiest ways to make your food work for you. Milk and cheese are the usual suspects, but you might be surprised at just how varied and delicious consuming calcium can be. Protect your smile and fuel your body with these simple tips.

Why Calcium?

Your teeth love calcium because they're partially made from calcium compounds. As you age, however, the mineral calledcalcium phosphate that makes up your tooth enamel can weaken and erode. Consuming calcium-rich foods helps fortify teeth and can actually protect tooth enamel. What's more, calcium can also contribute to healthier gums, which means it can protect against cavities and gum disease.

How Much Calcium Do You Need?

The National Institutes of Health recommends that the average adult consume at least 1,000 mg of calcium each day. Bone loss and tooth decay can increase as you age or if you have certain risk factors like a family history of osteoporosis.

Other risk factors include taking medication that can cause weak bones or being lactose intolerant. You can take supplements if you're not getting enough calcium, but it's easy to meet your daily requirements with healthy, calcium-rich foods.

Calcium Rich Foods to Eat

When you think calcium, you probably think milk and other dairy products. A cup of milk contains 300 mg of calcium, which means you'd meet your daily requirements with just three and a half cups. But if you don't like milk or you're lactose intolerant, the National Osteoporosis Foundation suggest finding calcium in a number of other delicious options.

  • Orange juice. A cup of calcium-fortified orange juice comes packed with 300 mg of calcium. If you're sensitive to acidic foods, however, it's best to opt for a low-acid version or find another way to get your daily calcium.
  • Fish. Who knew that fish was such a great source of calcium? Add 3 ounces of sardines to your pizza for 325 mg of calcium, or choose 4 ounces of heart-healthy salmon for 240 mg.
  • Leafy greens. Leafy greens are a surprising source of calcium. A cup of kale boasts 180 mg, while a cup of collard greens offers 360 mg for healthier teeth and bones. Mix a green salad, or if you don't love the taste of leafy greens, whip up a smoothie with yogurt and bananas to sweeten the flavor while still reaping the benefits.
  • Beans. If you love a good pot of chili, you also love your teeth. Baked beans have 320 mg of calcium per cup, while soy beans have 175 mg. Mix them into your favorite soup or toss them into a salad for a boost of calcium at lunch.
  • Almonds. Nature's perfect snack comes with a hefty dose of calcium, according to Time Magazine. With 75 mg of calcium per ounce, you can stash almonds in your bag for a quick pick-me-up.

When it comes to oral health, calcium is a no-brainer. It helps fortify teeth and keeps your gums healthy. You don't need to reach for a glass of milk to meet your daily requirements. There are plenty of other calcium-rich foods in your fridge or pantry. By aiming to get your daily 1,000 mg, you'll help protect your smile in the most delicious way possible.

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Tips for a Healthy Diet

  • Foods high in sugar are a particularly common cause of tooth decay. Making these foods a treat rather than a staple will help protect your teeth.

  • To maintain a balanced diet, eat a variety of foods from each of the five major food groups.

  • When choosing a snack, go for nutritious foods such as cheese, raw vegetables, plain yogurt or a piece of fruit.