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Article updated: 7/8/2013 6:53 AM

Your health: Eating for your teeth

By

Tooth health

Some old dental advice that still may be helpful is to chew parsley as a "natural" way to brush teeth when you're in a pinch.

In fact, there are a number of foods that can benefit tooth health, especially in children, according to the American Dental Association, as reported in The Washington Post.

Ÿ Saliva neutralizes acids, helping to prevent tooth decay. High-fiber vegetables such as celery and parsley take longer to chew, so they stimulate saliva production.

Ÿ Some foods neutralize acids, such as pears, apples, yogurt and other dairy.

Ÿ Foods that provide calcium and phosphates such as raw nuts and yogurt can strengthen the tooth's surface.

Ÿ Crunchy fruits and vegetables such as apples, celery and cucumbers have high water content, which helps dilute sugar and wash away particles.

Ÿ Drinking water throughout the day will wash teeth and flush bacteria.

Ÿ You can minimize acid in foods such as citrus and tomatoes by eating them with other foods.

Ÿ Sip sugary drinks through a straw to limit the amount of contact the sugar has with the teeth.

Berry good

Eating more blueberries and strawberries may be a delicious way to protect your heart.

The finding comes from a new study led by Dr. Eric Rimm, associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School. "The sooner people start the type of diet that includes a higher intake of blueberries and strawberries, the better," Rimm says.

Data was taken from 93,600 women, who, at ages 25 to 42, signed up for the Nurses' Health Study. Over the course of 18 years, they reported how often they ate various kinds of food.

The study looked at relatively young women because they usually have a lower risk of heart attack. Factors that increase the risk would be easier to tease out in this population than among older people with many heart attack risk factors. In addition, risk factors seen in young women likely apply to older women and men.

A risk factor did turn up: women who ate the fewest blueberries and strawberries were at increased risk of heart attack. Those who ate the most were 34 percent less likely to have suffered a heart attack than were women who ate the least of these fruits, according to the study.

How much does a person need to eat? "The people with heart benefits had three or more servings of a half a cup of blueberries or strawberries each week," Rimm says.

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