Fall is just around the corner, meaning that pumpkins are about to flood the stores and our home decor. This year, we recommend including them in your diet as well, as consuming pumpkin is a great way to boost oral health. However, some pumpkin foods are better for you than others, so be sure to do your research before going pumpkin crazy this season.
Benefits of Eating Pumpkin
Pumpkin’s oral health benefits come from its many vitamins and minerals, including:
- Iron: Iron helps replenish the gums’ lining, particularly in the pockets along the teeth, and prevent anemia, which increases your risk of developing gum disease. Pumpkin’s iron comes from pumpkin seeds, so these can be a great snack for anyone deficient in this mineral.
- Fiber: Consuming fiber can help you lose weight. Maintaining a healthy weight is important to prevent heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, all of which can increase your likelihood of developing gum disease and poor oral health.
- Zinc: Zinc helps keep bones and teeth strong and improves gum health, making pumpkin an ideal choice for those dealing with bleeding gums.
- Magnesium: Magnesium and calcium work in conjunction to strengthen enamel, which is necessary to protect your teeth from decay. Without magnesium, your teeth will become weaker, softer, and more vulnerable.
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A prevents dry mouth, promotes the health of mucous membranes, and helps damaged gums heal.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C promotes a healthy immune system, helping to protect against oral infections such as gingivitis (a mild form of gum disease). It can also strengthen your mouth’s soft tissues and gums and keep your teeth from becoming loose.
Disclaimer: Sugar and Spice Aren’t So Nice
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If you’re thinking that this will justify your pumpkin spice latte addiction, you’ll have to find justifications elsewhere. Pumpkin-flavored foods and beverages don’t contain the vitamins and minerals that real pumpkin does; and even the snacks that do contain real pumpkin tend to be high in sugar, which will do much more harm to your teeth than good. Practice moderation when indulging in these seasonal treats, and be sure to brush your teeth afterward.
Healthy Pumpkin Alternatives
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Fortunately, pumpkin comes in more forms than just pie, bread, and cookies. For foods that are low in sugar, rich in the oral health benefits of pumpkin, and just generally delicious, try a few of the following snacks and meals:
- Roasted pumpkin seeds: Roasting pumpkin seeds is fun and easy, and gives you something to do with some of your pumpkin’s insides after carving it.
- Pumpkin pie smoothie: Take your pumpkin on the go with this breakfast pumpkin pie smoothie. It has all the flavor of pumpkin pie, without all the sugar or the hassle of baking.
- Pumpkin quinoa muffins: Replace your typical pumpkin baked goods with these pumpkin quinoa muffins, which use agave syrup as a sweetener instead of sugar.
- Pumpkin curry hummus: Pumpkin curry hummus is the perfect fall appetizer and only takes 10 minutes to prepare.
- Roasted pumpkin apple soup: This rich soup will add a burst of flavor and coziness to chilly autumn evenings.
- Creamy pumpkin spaghetti: Pumpkin and pasta make for a tasty adaptation of a classic dish. Make this with either real noodles or spaghetti squash for extra health consciousness.
- Pumpkin turkey chili: The only thing better suited for fall than chili is pumpkin chili. Combine the ingredients in your crockpot in the morning and your chili will be ready in time for lunch!
You won’t regret trying these healthy pumpkin options, and neither will your teeth. For more information on maintaining good oral health this fall, check out our dentist-approved guide to enjoying Halloween treats.