While you may think that good dental health starts at home with proper brushing and flossing habits, where it really starts is with a healthy diet. With superfoods and gluten sensitivities, people seem to be more aware of what’s in their food lately.
But the biggest threat when it comes to tooth decay and toothaches is a familiar one: sugar. However, food manufacturers have gotten better at concealing and misleading about the presence of sugar in their products, offering seemingly “healthy” options that might not be. Here are a few foods with hidden sugars that you should be aware of if you want to keep your smile (and your body!) healthy.
Many people think they’re choosing the healthy option when they opt for iced tea instead of a soft drink, and while it’s true that pre-made iced teas have less sugar than soda pop, that doesn’t make them healthy. Many iced teas contain around 30-60 grams of sugar (7-14 teaspoons) per serving, which is too much sugar. The American Heart Association recommends just 6 teaspoons of sugar per day for women and 9 teaspoons for men. A truly healthier option is unsweetened iced tea, which is just as refreshing. Just keep in mind that if you make a habit of drinking black tea, you may end up wanting a teeth whitening eventually!
These scrumptious toasted oats have long been touted as a healthy meal option, especially for breakfast. And it’s true that granola has lots of good fibre and iron, but it is often paired with lots of sugar. Not all granola varieties are created equal, and some have more sugar than others. The key is to read the ingredients carefully. The sugar may be hidden with unfamiliar terms like “evaporated cane juice” or “brown rice syrup”.
The benefits of yogurt are its high protein content and active cultures which can balance the digestive tract. However, you have to be careful that the benefits aren’t outweighed by the sugar content. Yogurt naturally has a tart flavour, so many food manufacturers counteract this sourness by adding vanilla, fruit, and other flavours. The trouble is these flavours also tend to come with heaping teaspoons of sugar. Compare the calorie and sugar content on the nutrition labels, or when in doubt, choose plain unsweetened yogurt and add sweetness with fresh chopped fruit.
If any of these foods are your favourites, please know that we’re not forbidding you from eating them. We just want you to have the information you need to make educated choices to reduce or moderate your sugar intake. When you do decide to have a sugary treat or beverage, follow it by brushing your teeth to keep tooth decay-causing sugars from hanging out in your mouth for hours afterward. Don’t have a toothbrush handy? Chewing gum or drinking plain water can also help flush away sugars until you can brush.
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