The tomato sauce in your pasta could stain your teeth for a while; however, behind the scenes, it’s actually adding years to your life.
Lowdown on Lycopene
Tomatoes are associated with a life-saving compound called lycopene. In fact, any red fruit or vegetable contains a specific amount of lycopene, given its nature as a bright red carotenoid or pigment. Nonetheless, tomatoes are the primary source of lycopene, with one medium raw tomato providing 3.7 grams.
Strangely, tomato juice provides eight times as much lycopene than raw tomatoes, with a 250 mL serving (about 1 glass) containing 25 grams. Spaghetti sauce is even higher with 28.1 grams for just half as much. According to a 2008 study by Ohio State University, lycopene combined with fat during cooking reforms its molecular structure to make it easier for the body to absorb it.
Lycopene and Oral Health
As an antioxidant, lycopene eliminates free radicals, which damage cells to the point of cancer. While often noted for fighting lung and prostate cancer, lycopene can deal with just about any type of cancer, including oral cancer—but, studies show they’re more effective when cancer has yet to fully manifest itself.
The best thing about lycopene is that you’re getting it without knowing it. Pizza, for instance, has tomato sauce as its base, which contains 8.9 grams of lycopene for every quarter cup. Burgers have tomato ketchup in them, providing 2.7 grams per tablespoon. America’s iconic foods have some lycopene one way or another.
Teeth and Tomatoes
Regardless, it pays to make sure tomatoes end up absorbed in your stomach, not on your teeth. This is because bacteria in your mouth can still turn tomato bits and traces of sauce into acidic compounds that could damage a tooth’s enamel (outer surface). Remember to wash it down with water and brush your teeth after meals. More importantly, drop by the office of your Denver dentist regularly for your dental and oral checkup.
You can have all the tomato-rich foods you want (in moderation, of course), provided that you follow through with proper oral hygiene. With lycopene taking care of free radicals and proper brushing and flossing dealing with bacteria, the health of your oral cavity can be preserved. Having your teeth checked by a dentist for hidden cavities and the like ensures all-around protection.
A reputable dentist in Denver, CO promotes a balanced diet as much as a physician does. It’s a good way of prolonging the life of your teeth and, ultimately, your body. Practitioners from dental offices such as the Cody Dental Group will help maintain your teeth to the best of their abilities, but remember to do your part.
(Source: Lycopene, the Powerful Nutrient That May Help Prevent Cancer, Care2, March 28, 2015)