5 Spices & Herbs Your Teeth Will Thank You For

5 Spices & Herbs Your Teeth Will Thank You For

We all do stuff we don’t want to do sometimes because we know it’s good for our health. Sure, you might not love salad, but you force yourself to make greens your main course a few times a week because you know that eating steak for every meal just isn’t reasonable. But when something that’s already delicious turns out to be good for you?  Well, that’s cause for a celebration!  We’re thinking backyard barbecue with a bunch of delicious side dishes that incorporate spices and herbs that are great for your oral health.  Read on to find out which ones to use.

1. Rosemary

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Cooking With Rosemary Rosemary[/caption] If you know what you’re doing in the kitchen or on the grill, Rosemary is likely already a part of your spice repertoire.  The piney, sweet taste is a perfect addition to marinades, sauces, and salad dressings.  And because it’s so easy to grow in your own backyard herb garden, you can always have it on hand. The delicious herb has a lot more going for it than just good flavor too – you’ll probably be surprised to learn that just one tablespoon of the stuff contains 4.2% of your recommended daily calcium.  If you don’t regularly drink milk or eat yogurt, you might not be getting the calcium you need to keep bones and teeth healthy and strong as you get older.  So, tossing in a sprig of rosemary to your recipes is a great way to make up for that.

2. Turmeric

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300"]uses for tumeric Tumeric[/caption] Sometimes known as “Indian saffron,” this peppery herb is actually the key ingredient that gives your standard mustard its bright yellow color.  It’s pretty strong in both color and flavor, so just a little goes a long way.  Try adding a bit to egg salad to get a more vibrant color and unique flavor.  It’s also perfect for dishes like lentil salad or a side vegetable like cauliflower and broccoli. Or if you want to make it part of the main event, use it in an Asian-inspired meat rub. Studies have shown that turmeric actually has some of the same properties as mouthwash and might even be better.  This study went so far as to show that it can help reverse pre oral cancer conditions.  It’s a powerful natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent, so it’s good for gum and teeth health.   Interestingly enough, some have also had success using it as a natural teeth whitener.

3. Garlic

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Using garlic for cooking Garlic[/caption] We know what you’re thinking – garlic is murder on your fresh breath.  But, it’s great for your mouth and teeth.  And luckily, it’s a delicious addition to almost any savory recipe.  You get the most health bang for your buck when you eat it raw, so toss a bit of chopped up garlic in with a salad dressing.  If you enjoy an Italian-inspired appetizer, combine minced garlic with fresh chopped tomatoes and basil, then spoon the mixture on top of toasted Italian bread for a more flavorful version of bruschetta. Amazingly enough, garlic has mighty antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial powers, which means that it protects you from bad bacteria that causes tooth decay and oral infections.  People have been using it for many years as a home remedy for a wide variety of health issues, so increasing your raw garlic intake is both delicious and nutritious.

4. Holy Basil

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Holy Basil Benefits Holy Basil[/caption] You’re no doubt familiar with garden variety basil, but its spicier cousin is a little less known.  Disclaimer:  Eating this herb will not replace your normal religious observances; it’s merely a tasty spice that comes in handy when cooking up Thai recipes like a veggie stir fry or a rub for grilled scallops and shrimp. While you’re enjoying your exotic recipes, the holy basil will be acting as natural astringent, killing off bacteria that causes cavities and halitosis (bad breath).  It’s not usually found in common American grocery stores though, so you might have to call around to some specialty Asian markets in your area.

5. Cinnamon

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Cooking with cinnamon Cinnamon[/caption] This sweet spice is a bit different from the others in that it doesn’t offer direct benefits to your oral health, but it does help your teeth in a round-about way.  Several studies have proven that incorporating just half of a teaspoon of cinnamon powder each day balances blood sugar, which naturally stops sugar and simple carb cravings in their tracks.  And eating less sugary foods certainly helps you maintain much better oral health. We recommend using high-quality Ceylon cinnamon instead of the common kind in your grocer’s spice aisle.  It’s the perfect way to get a bit of after-dinner sweetness without loading on the sugar.  You can add some to a smoothie or baked apples for a more nutritious dessert.  Or, if you like some sweet in your savory, add it to meat marinades or homemade barbeque sauces. It can be a challenge to eat healthy when so much of the best tasting stuff is not so great for us.  But, it’s a lot easier when you can find ingredients you love that also offer great health benefits. The next time you’re planning a grill-out menu, try to incorporate some of these teeth-friendly herbs and spices for a kick to both flavor and health.

Dr Kimberly DyocoDr. Kimberly Dyoco is a cosmetic and general dentist in Chicago as well as the owner of One Mag Smile Dental Practice.  She’s not only passionate about providing her patients with top-notch care, but she also loves helping to educate people about maintaining good oral health through easy tweaks to their daily habits.  To find out more, connect with her on Google+ and check out http://1MagSmile.com today!

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