In the month of February, billions of dollars are spent on a single food all around the world. The same thing happens in the United States during October. We eat this food by itself, offer it as a flavor choice, or use it as a garnish. We mix it with some foods, spread it over others, and a few are completely immersed in it. This confection is so popular that some refer to it as “the fifth food group,” if not the “Fifth Element.” If you haven’t guessed already, we’re talking about chocolate, and it’s not just for Supreme Beings, as in the days of the Aztecs. However, what we have to say about chocolate as dentists might surprise you!
A Not-So-Guilty Pleasure
You’d probably agree that a dental website criticizing chocolate as nothing more than an archenemy of teeth is a little cliché. In fact, it’s also inaccurate. Studies show that chocolate (especially dark chocolate) provides several health benefits and dietary requirements, including:
- Significant amounts of healthy minerals like iron, magnesium, manganese, and potassium;
- A strong source of antioxidants, like flavanols, catechins, and polyphenols;
- Possible assistance in reducing in blood pressure;
- Decrease in risk factors for high cholesterol and heart disease;
- Some protection against skin damage;
- Improved blood flow, benefitting the entire body, including the brain.
Also, chocolate dissolves faster than other candies, so it does not stick to your teeth as long as other sweets. It may even directly repel certain bacteria from the teeth.
Enjoy Chocolate Responsibly
As with all other aspects of our lives, moderation is key. Too much of anything can do more harm than good. When it comes to chocolate, holidays are the hardest time to stay moderate — especially when your loved one brings into your life a full (or mostly full) box of chocolate. Even worse, sometimes your favorite kind of chocolate candy is available only once a year — the kind you want to get! Keep in mind, however, that making the most of a special chocolate does not have to entail eating it all at once. Chocolate contains a lot of fat that can lead to weight gain when consumed excessively. And it generally includes a generous helping of sugar, which still can cause complications with both oral and bodily health.
So, the solution with chocolate is to pace yourself. Each time you have some, tell yourself to save most of it for later — no matter how much is left. It will last longer that way. Also, remember that milk chocolate and white chocolate have significantly less health benefits compared to their dark counterpart. After you enjoy your chocolate treat, swish around some water to rinse your mouth. Keep up with your brushing twice a day to make sure any lodged bits don’t linger and plaque doesn’t build up.
Whether it’s part of a “fifth food group,” the best part of that group, or none of these things, chocolate is an integral part of many lives. A responsible amount can bring health benefits, as well as enjoyment. If you have any questions about how much chocolate is okay, or would like to discuss your favorite chocolate treat, feel free to call the Placerville Dental Group or schedule an appointment online. Whether you bring in some chocolate to your appointment, that’s entirely up to you.