You might not get great, big muscles like Popeye when you start including more spinach in your diet, but you probably will notice that your oral health improves. Spinach is high in a number of nutrients that are essential for healthy teeth and gums. Here's a closer look at the mouth-friendly nutrients spinach provides and some suggestions for including more of this leafy green in your diet.
What mouth-friendly nutrients does spinach provide?
Calcium: Without enough calcium in your diet, your tooth enamel will weaken, increasing your risk of cavities and tooth sensitivity. Those who don't like dairy products can rely on spinach for the calcium they need for healthy teeth. A cup of cooked spinach provides 24% of the daily value of calcium.
Magnesium: Another essential mineral for healthy teeth, magnesium helps deposit the calcium in your tooth enamel. Many people don't get enough magnesium in their diet and suffer from an increased risk of tooth decay as a result, but if you include more spinach in your diet, you stand a better chance of satisfying your magnesium needs. One cup of cooked spinach provides 39% of the daily value of magnesium.
Vitamin C: You can't have healthy teeth without healthy gums, and vitamin C is important for good gum health. It is involved in the production of collagen, which gives your gums their strength, and it's also key to the process by which gum tissues heal and repair themselves. A cup of cooked spinach contains 24% of the daily value of vitamin C.
Iron: A lack of iron in the diet can lead to tongue inflammation and the formation of sores in the mouth. Luckily, spinach helps you meet your iron needs, as one cup of cooked spinach contains 36% of the daily value of iron.
What are some ways to include more spinach in your diet?
Spinach is delicious when served both raw and cooked. Try adding a handful of raw spinach leaves to your morning smoothie. Its flavor is so mild that you won't even taste it. You can make an entire salad out of spinach leaves, too. Top the salad with some sliced apple, walnuts, and an oil-vinegar dressing, and you'll forget you're eating vegetables.
To sauté spinach, heat a small amount of oil in a skillet. Add handfuls of spinach, and then place the lid on the pan. In just a minute or two, the spinach will be wilted. You can add this cooked spinach to pasta dishes, pizzas, stir fries, or soups. It's even delicious on its own when topped with a little salt and pepper.
The next time you're in the grocery store, buy a few bags of spinach. Your teeth – and your dentist – will thank you.
For more information on calcium and teeth, talk to a dentist like David Jackson, DDS.