Thursday, August 29, 2013

Labor Day Food Choices for Healthy Teeth and Body

                Like most Americans, you're probably looking forward to the upcoming Labor Day weekend. Labor Day became a national holiday in 1894 to honor working people and labor unions and memorialize the struggles of the past. Today, Labor Day marks the true end of summer (although, here in Miami, “summer” is more of a year round event). Labor Day is now seen as a weekend to relax and enjoy life’s little pleasures and our loved ones.  

                In America, relaxing is almost synonymous with grilling. Did you know that Labor Day is the second most popular grilling holiday behind July 4th with 57 percent of Americans hitting the grill? Chances are you are either having a barbecue this weekend or being invited to one. Here are some tips for making food choices that are good for your teeth and your overall health.

1.       Watch the Condiments. Condiments like ketchup and barbecue sauce are high in sugar which means they contribute to tooth decay and hold empty calories that can grow your waistline and negatively impact your overall health. Use more herbs and spices to marinate your meat (rosemary, basil, cilantro, parsley, etc.) and use sugary sauces and marinades sparingly.

2.       Avoid Soda. Soda is not only sugary, it’s also acidic. It increases your chances for tooth decay, erodes your tooth enamel and stains your teeth. Soda is also detrimental to your overall health. The sugar in soda can lead to diabetes and consuming as little as one can of soda per day has been linked with a 48 percent higher chance of having a heart attack. Water is the best drink of choice. Make flavorful and refreshing infused water by putting chopped fruit in pitchers of water and refrigerating. Kiwi, cucumber, strawberries and mango make delicious choices!

3.       Limit Red Wine and Coffee. Although both have proven health benefits in small quantities, they are known to stain teeth over time. Drink red wine and coffee sparingly and, to avoid staining, either brush shortly after consuming or at least swish some water in your mouth to minimize staining.

4.       Load Up on Lean Protein. Your teeth and your body will benefit by you choosing lean protein over high fat foods. Fish is an especially good choice when grilling this weekend. In fact, researchers at Harvard Medical School have found that eating a diet rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (the kind of fat that is found in salmon, mackerel and other fatty fish) may help prevent and treat periodontitis, a common gum condition that can lead to bone and tooth loss. To give you a head start, here’s a delicious recipe for grilled king salmon with a tomato-peach salsa courtesy of Cooking Light:

Hope everyone has a happy and safe Labor Day that is both relaxing and fun! 

~ Dr. Addison