Do you remember how disappointed you were as a kid when some concerned adult dared put raisins in your Halloween bucket? Your mother was probably relieved, convinced they would be far better for you and your pearly whites than the rest of the junk food you’d strung out across the kitchen table. Ask a pediatric dentist, however, and you might get a different story.
It’s true that there are a number of benefits to eating raisins. They’re low in fat and cholesterol, but boast plenty of fiber, calcium and potassium. Unfortunately, they’re also both sticky and high in sugar, putting them high on the list of foods that can cause cavities. Some health professionals lump them in with all the other typical junk foods kids eat. Don’t worry, raisins aren’t the only foods once thought healthy that can contribute to tooth decay and poor oral health. Go ahead and add other dried fruit, sweetened cereals and even fruit juices to the list.
Don’t chuck raisins out just yet, however. According to Vincent Iannelli, M.D., raisins were recently found to contain phytochemicals, which have been found to inhibit the growth of bacteria that are commonly linked to cavities. Note that this study was conducted in a lab, and no study has even been done to show that cavities are either more or less likely to find kids who eat raisins.
So, where does this leave you? A good general rule when it comes to eating for good health is to stick with whole fruits and vegetables whenever possible. If you must eat something that you aren’t sure is good for you, do it in moderation. For good dental hygiene, be sure to drink lots of water, and always either brush your teeth and rinse your mouth out with warm water after eating sugary or acidic foods to prevent tooth decay!