Eat good fats and floss for healthy gums

By Shayna Brouker • Published: March 10th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

The benefits of eating a Mediterranean diet full of healthy fats have long been heralded as the golden standard for maintaining a healthy heart. Olive oil, nuts and fatty fish contain “good” poly- and monounsaturated fats, which help smooth arteries and reduce inflammation… and lower risk for heart disease.

But a new study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that some heart-healthy almonds and salmon can go a long way toward protecting a less-loved part of your body: your gums. Researchers found eating these foods may lower your risk of gum disease by up to thirty percent.

But if your gums are the last thing you think about when it comes to your well-being, you’re in good company. The American Academy of Periodontology estimates that gum disease could be epidemic among Americans… fifty percent more suffer from the disease than previously thought.

Periodontitis may rank low on the list of “scary” diseases, but your dentist is right — there’s good reason to keep up with your flossing other than maintaining a sparkly smile. Gum disease is linked to chronic conditions like diabetes, arthritis, and as a matter of fact, heart disease.

Caused when plaque and food debris build up between teeth and under gums, signs of impending gum disease include red, inflamed gums, bleeding after brushing teeth and embarrassing bad breath.

But even if you spot that telltale blood in the sink after brushing, it’s not too late. Floss daily, use a toothbrush with softer bristles and go easy when brushing. Don’t swish with alcohol-based mouth washes, which may have the opposite effect intended and actually harm sensitive gums.

And for a healthy heart and a pretty smile, snack on some almonds for good measure.