Raisins May Help Fight Cavities
Chemicals in Raisins May Combat Gum Disease
June 8, 2005 -- Raisins may be a healthy snack for your teeth as well as
Researchers have found that certain compounds contained in raisins appear to
fight the bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities and gum disease.
"Our laboratory analyses showed that phytochemicals in this popular
snack food suppress the growth of several species of oral bacteria associated
with [tooth decay] and gum disease," says researcher Christine D. Wu, a
professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry.
"Raisins are perceived as sweet and sticky, and any food that contains
sugar and is sticky is assumed to cause cavities," says Wu. "But our
study suggests the contrary. Phytochemicals in raisins may benefit oral health
by fighting bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease."
Wu presented the results at a meeting of the American Society for
Microbiology in Atlanta. Her study was funded by the California Raisin
Raisins: Nature's Cavity Fighters?
In the study, researchers analyzed the chemical composition of Thomas
seedless raisins, a common black raisin variety.
Those analysis identified five phytochemicals -- plant antioxidants --
including oleanolic acid.
Laboratory tests showed that this phytochemical slowed or stopped the growth
of two different types of bacteria commonly found in the mouth:
Streptococcus mutans, which causes cavities, and Porphyromonas
gingivalis, which causes gum disease.
Under scientific conditions in the lab, researchers found that oleanolic
acid inhibited bacteria growth.
The study also showed that the phytochemical prevented cavity-causing
bacteria from sticking to surfaces. This ability may help it prevent bacteria
from sticking to teeth and forming plaques that eventually lead to
It's not clear how many raisins a person would have to eat to benefit from
these cavity-fighting and gum disease-fighting benefits.