Fight Tooth Decay With Chocolate!

Believe it or not, recent scientific studies have proven that you can fight tooth decay with chocolate, in more ways than one.

As chocolate extremos, we're well aware that our favorite food can do many things -- but would you believe that you can fight tooth decay with chocolate?

I'm not channeling Maxwell Smart here. According to real, live scientists, moderate chocolate consumption not only thwarts the bacteria that cause tooth decay, a certain famous chemical in cocoa makes a dandy addition to toothpaste. Let's take a closer look!

The Osaka Study

A recent study undertaken in Osaka, Japan found that, in addition to the above, a part of the cocoa bean husk (which admittedly doesn't usually find its way into finished chocolate) has an antibacterial effect. In other words, it fights against the bacteria and plaque that cause decay in the first place. Great news!

Plus, it seems, the idea that chocolate causes tooth decay is dead wrong. While chocolate does contain fermentable carbohydrates (the causes of tooth decay), it also contains cocoa butter, which coats teeth, protecting them from bacteria. If you brush regularly, you're safer with chocolate than with any other sweets.

The Tulane Study

At Tulane University in New Orleans (surely the American capital of great food), a scientist has discovered that a substance ubiquitous to all chocolate is actually great at fighting tooth decay.

You may remember theobromine, the alkaloid that gives chocolate its kick. Well, according to Dr. Arman Sadeghpour, when theobromine is reduced to its pure form, a crystalline bitter powder, it protects teeth and hardens enamel better than fluoride does.

By all accounts, his prototype theobromine toothpaste works quite well. In fact, he's formed a company, Theodent, and is working for regulatory approval for his creation. Admittedly, it's not chocolate-flavored (he went with peppermint), but it's exciting to learn that an extract of ambrosia can help protect your chompers!

Just a Minute, There

Please don't assume that chocolate alone will have the same enamel hardening effect as the doc's new toothpaste.

That would be nice to believe, but even the darkest chocolate contains less than 3% theobromine by weight... so the positive effects would be overwhelmed by the negative aspects of the sugar added to offset the bitterness of, well, the theobromine.

The Bottom Line

Let's make one thing clear: chocolate is not a health food. Yet. It has its negative effects when over-consumed. But in study after study, scientists have discovered that it's not nearly as bad for you as all those naysayers have been telling us all these years.

In fact, as we've reported here, chocolate can be good for your heart and your blood pressure, particularly in its darker, less sugar-laden varieties. Add the fact that you genuinely can fight tooth decay with chocolate, and things are looking brighter than ever!