Is cheese healthy for you? Maybe you avoid cheese if you’re on a low-fat diet, but the benefits of a good piece of cheese can actually go a long way. In fact, a new study says that cheese is responsible for protecting your teeth from acid erosion that breaks down your teeth’s enamel when you drink coffee and sodas.
The study, published in General Dentistry, wanted to know if dairy products, like cheese, could affect the plaque pH in our mouths and help prevent cavities. Since our mouths naturally have a low pH (acidic), when we drink or eat acidic things, like caffeine and sodas, that lowers the pH even further, making it easier for cavities to develop, since our teeth’s enamel can be eroded by all the acidity.
In this study, researchers tested out their theory on 68 children; half of them who had no cavities or filled teeth, and the other half had at least one cavity. The children were told not to brush their teeth for 48 hours prior to starting the study (something I’m sure the children liked!) and were divided into four groups, with each group consuming either milk, yogurt, cheddar cheese, or a control. The participants were asked to swish around the food in their mouth for three minutes, after which the researchers checked their pH levels. Compared to the other groups, cheese elevated pH for 30 minutes, compared to only 10 minutes after eating milk or yogurt.
Is cheese healthy?
So if you’ve been wondering if cheese is healthy, then here’s your answer: you don’t need to avoid this food altogether. After all, by elevating plaque pH, cheese can help protect your teeth and prevent cavities.
Cheese acts as a sialogogue, which is a compound that promotes salivation. Increasing saliva in your mouth also helps restore the pH levels in your mouth by neutralizing the acid inside. All this helps protect your teeth and ensures your healthy teeth stay cavity free!
Cheese is also known to contain casein phosphate, which can strengthen your teeth by binding to your teeth’s enamel to prevent them from decaying.
Enjoy your next piece of cheese and know that you’re getting a lot of health benefits. The best-part is that low-fat cheese carries just as many benefits as regular cheese, so you don’t need to forsake your diet, either.
Telgi, R., et al., “In vivo dental plaque pH after consumption of dairy products,” General Dentistry. May-June 2013: 56-59.
Lincoff, N., “Cheese: the next big thing in dental health?” Men’s Fitness web site; http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/what-to-eat/cheese-the-next-big-thing-in-dental-health, last accessed June 14, 2013.