The Unexpected Perks of Chocolate Cupcake Day

1364674_34314759Everyone loves a tasty cupcake. Lucky for chocoholics, this Friday, Oct. 18, is National Chocolate Cupcake Day. You might think that National Chocolate Cupcake Day would be a pain for dentists; however, dark cocoa can actually be good for your teeth. Yes, you read correctly. In small doses, this drool-worthy food can be healthy.

Chocolate’s good for your smile
Dark chocolate is loaded with disease-fighting flavonoids, which are antioxidants found in many fruits, vegetables and red wine. In fact, it appears chocolate contains more of them than any other food. Meanwhile, in your mouth, there’s a bacterium called oral streptococci that erodes your tooth enamel. The antioxidants in dark cocoa prevent the bacteria from turning into damaging acids by acting as an antibacterial compound.

These antioxidants also reduce inflammation in the body and help lower the risk of gingivitis, or the swelling of the gums.

It gets even better. Cocoa butter, a pure vegetable oil found within the plant, layers your teeth to fight off dental plaque and other bacteria. So, keep on showering your loved one with those cocoa butter kisses.

What are the overall health benefits of chocolate?
Since oral health is intertwined with your overall health, it’s important to look at the big picture. Eating a few squares of dark cocoa daily may reduce your risk of heart attack, according to a study led by Diane Becker MPH, ScD, a researcher with the John Hopkins University School of Medicine. Becker discovered that blood platelets clotted more slowly in patients who ate dark chocolate compared to those who didn’t. In essence, flavanols lower cell damage involved in heart disease.

“The flavanols in cocoa beans have a biochemical effect of reducing platelet clumping, similar to but much less than aspirin,” Becker said.

Moreover, the antioxidant effects of cocoa may increase insulin sensitivity, and in turn, diminish the risk for diabetes. This is a big plus for a healthy mouth, as periodontal disease and diabetes are linked together. The reason? High blood sugar levels found in diabetic patients wear away the gums and teeth. Although cupcakes are far from the best form of dark chocolate intake, some benefits still remain.

A 2012 study published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine found that chocolate has potential slimming effects as well. The results showed that people who ate chocolate five times per week had a lower body mass index than those who ate chocolate less frequently.

With that being said, chocolate’s reputation is on the rise, but more research still needs to be done.

Different kinds of chocolate
It is important to understand that not all chocolate is created equal. On Friday, when you’re celebrating the joyous holiday, make sure you’re eating cupcakes that are made from dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 65 percent or higher.

If you can’t help but keep the choco-train rolling past the 18th, limit yourself to about three ounces, or 85 grams, a day, which is the quantity certain studies have indicated as helpful. The darker the chocolate, the better for your health. Keep in mind, however, that this may pack up to 450 calories per serving, so you may want to cut out other snacks or exercise a little more during the day.

Moderation, moderation, moderation
As McIff Dental Care highlights, eating chocolate is not like eating a plateful of veggies. While it certainly has nutritional benefits, it’s not considered a healthy food. When making your cupcakes, it’s wisest to purchase premium cocoa powder and dark chocolate.

So, grab one dark cocoa cupcake and celebrate National Chocolate Cupcake Day on Oct. 18! The dark chocolate can help kick dental plaque and prevent gingivitis. But, remember, like everything else in life, moderation is key.

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