Raisins May Not be Harmful to Your Teeth

Raisins make the ideal chewy sweet treat, and Trudy and I enjoy eating them regularly as a snack.

Raisins are also a good source of fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. However, raisins are quite high in calories, so you have to watch you don’t eat too many. I also used to be under the impression that raisins, because of their sugar content, aren’t very good for your teeth. Well, the jury’s now out on that question because a new study has found that, although raisins contain natural fruit sugars, they also contain a number of phytochemicals that can help prevent tooth decay.

“Our laboratory analyses showed that phytochemicals in this popular snack food suppress the growth of several species of oral bacteria associated with caries and gum disease,” said Dr. Christine D. Wu, lead author of the study, which was conducted at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry.

In particular, one of the phytochemicals in raisins called oleanolic acid was found to inhibit the growth of two species of oral bacteria: Streptococcus mutans, which causes cavities, and Porphyromonas gingivalis, which causes periodontal disease. In addition, oleanolic acid can prevent bacteria from adhering to the surfaces of the teeth.

So perhaps raisins may not be bad for your teeth after all. “Raisins are perceived as sweet and sticky, and any food that contains sugar and is sticky is assumed to cause cavities,” Said Dr. Wu. “But our study suggests the contrary. Phytochemicals in raisins may benefit oral health by fighting bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease.”