Living away from home and becoming immersed in a new culture is an exciting experience that often puts a smile on our face. What if we told you that you can help keep that smile clean and white by following a Mediterranean diet? Fantastic news for expats living in Spain, right?
According to the NHS, the Mediterranean diet ranges from country to country but is mainly based on a high intake of fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish and unsaturated fats like olive oil. In some of these food categories, there are certain products with special properties that not only maintain but boost your oral hygiene, and the best about it, they’re right on your Spanish doorstep.
Mediterranean Diet Plan made in Spain
Spain is internationally renowned for its fresh produce and varied cuisine that makes our mouth water, but what is perhaps less well known is that the following foodstuffs, all typical from the country, offer even more benefits when oral hygiene and care are concerned.
Fruit in the Mediterranean Diet Plan
Let’s kick off the Mediterranean diet plan with the sweet oranges of Valencia. The lion’s share of oranges in Spain are grown in this region and not only do they make for a delicious glass of freshly-squeezed juice in the morning, they also work wonders for our oral hygiene. Oranges are loaded with vitamin C, which helps to keep our gums strong and healthy. That’s not all, their citrusy tangy flavour is a catalyst for greater saliva production, which is a natural teeth cleaner. Before you dive to the kitchen to eat a full bag of oranges for breakfast, you should know that whilst some of their properties are beneficial to our oral health, an overload of their acid can have damaging effects on the enamel. So, remember that moderation is key.
Next on the list of our Mediterranean diet are strawberries. Did you know that Spain is the number one exporter and second biggest producer of strawberries in the world? The province of Huelva is home to 90% of the strawberries grown in this lovely country we call home. This sweet fruit, although a hazard for any white clothing, contains high levels of malic acid, which is a natural bleaching agent that is found in a lot of commercial teeth-whitening products. It doesn’t stop there, though, the vitamin C present in strawberries is also efficient in removing plaque. Read more about strawberry production in Spain.
Staying on the fruit trail, we come to a classic: apples. The Reineta variety, native to El Bierzo in Leon, can be found in almost any medium-sized supermarket or farmer’s shop. The balance in flavour between acidic and sweet makes it a friend to our teeth and gums. Apples, like strawberries, are high in malic acid and its crunchy texture means that a bite and a chew in our mouths helps remove stains and bacteria. Why not give your boost your oral hygiene in the morning and kick off your daily Mediterranean diet with a fruit salad containing strawberries, orange slices and chunks of apple?!
Dairy products in the Mediterranean Diet Plan
Moving on to dairy products, including cheese and yoghurt. Spain is home to a range of world-class cheeses that are made throughout the whole country. Great news for our teeth! Cheese is a great source of calcium and phosphorous, which work together to strengthen our jaws, holding our teeth firmly in place. Dairy products also contain lactic acid, which performs similarly to malic acid in the sense that it breaks down stains and protects teeth from mild decay. Why not go for a Manchego cheese on a slice of seeded bread for a lunch time snack as part of your Mediterranean diet plan?! The harder the cheese, the more debris it removes, which translates to whiter and healthier teeth. Just remember, if you’re going to pair the creamy cheese with a glass of naturally staining red wine, perhaps a Rioja, your efforts to brighten your smile might not be so successful.
Vegetables in the Mediterranean Diet Plan
Two key staples in Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine are onions and garlic, used often in hearty stews or the classic tortilla, but what many people are unaware of are the beneficial properties they provide for our oral hygiene. Heads up though, a tasty fried onion and sautéed garlic clove won’t do the trick; these products need to be eaten raw for you to really reap the rewards. Garlic is known as a natural antibiotic that kills bacteria, which boosts our oral hygiene by keeping plaque at bay. Onions also contain the sulfur compounds that kill the bacteria that is harmful to our teeth.
Sometimes we become so wrapped up in our new lives abroad that we forget to visit a dental hygienist/dentist as often as we should. This, along with daily brushing and flossing, not to mention a comprehensive dental insurance to stay protected is crucial to maintain a healthy white smile. Check out the dental insurance offered at Caser.
On top of these crucial components, we can also take advantage of our expat lives in Spain by following our Mediterranean diet plan with typical Spanish produce with beneficial properties for our oral health and bright white smile.