Do you run out the door in the morning with just coffee in your stomach -- or maybe nothing at all? What's your excuse? Expert Dawn Jackson Blatner makes toast out of every reason to avoid starting the day off right.
Salmon is one of my favorite foods; I eat it a couple of times a week. As a doctor, I know that fish is good for my heart -- lots of studies have shown that it can reduce your chance of dying from a sudden heart attack, lower your bad cholesterol levels and improve your blood pressure. But it wasn't until about a year ago that I learned it might have an unexpected bonus: Healthy teeth and a better smile.
While in medical school, I wanted to explore the connection between nutrition and chronic diseases. I was thinking about writing a paper on heart disease, but many of my ideas had already been covered in other studies. Then my advisor suggested I look into periodontitis, a fancy name for gum disease. That turned out to be a great idea!
In my study, I compared the diet records of more than 9,000 adults to their history of gum disease. I was surprised to find that, after making adjustments for age and other factors, the participants who consumed the most DHA (a kind of omega-3 fatty acid) in their diet had a 22-percent less chance of developing gum disease than those who consumed the least DHA. Taking omega-3 supplements didn't seem to make a difference either way, but that may be because of how my study was designed. I'm now starting more rigorous research on patients with gum disease to see whether taking omega-3 supplements will help improve their oral health.
In the meantime, I can you tell this: I found that the same amount of fish that's great for gums is about what the American Heart Association recommends -- 3 1/2 ounces worth of fatty fish like salmon, trout, sardines or albacore tuna twice a week. So if you're consuming omega-3s in order to improve your heart health (and I highly recommend you do), you could come away with a little something extra for your smile.
Dr. Asghar Naqviis a researcher at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Brookline, Mass. He is funded by Beth Israel and Harvard Medical School.
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