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Raisin Compounds Promote Dental Health

Here’s news that should make you smile: eating raisins might help fight cavities and gum disease – not cause them.

“Our laboratory analyses showed that phytochemicals in this popular snack food suppressed the growth of oral bacteria associated with cavities and gum disease,” says Christine Wu, professor and associate dean for research at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Dentistry. One of those phytochemicals – oleanolic acid – also has anti-adhesive effects, essentially making it harder for cavity-causing bacteria to latch on to surfaces, where they release acids that can lead to tooth decay.

Earlier UIC research found that adding your own raisins to bran cereal did not increase the acidity of dental plaque. However, boxed raisin bran cereal with added sugar did raise acidity levels. The findings suggest that sucrose (table sugar) – not the fructose and glucose that constitute the majority of raisins’ sugar content – may be the main culprit in oral disease.

Bonus: USDA researchers found that gram for gram, raisins have the second highest polyphenol ranking out of 20 common fruits or vegetables – besting blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. So next time you’re craving for something sweet, choose “nature’s candy” for better dental health and a nutrition boost.

Published September 12, 2005

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