When it comes to your teeth, are peanuts healthy or hazardous? The answer, it seems, may be somewhere in between. You can find peanuts in everything from Chinese food to your favorite sandwich. Here’s a quick look at the benefits and drawbacks of snacking on peanuts and peanut butter.
Health benefits of peanuts
- Essential nutrients. Protein, an important building block for a healthy mouth and body, helps form and repair cells. Peanuts are also rich in fiber, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, and some B vitamins.
- Monounsaturated fats. The “good fats” in peanut butter aren’t just beneficial to your heart. They may also decrease your chances of gum disease, according to one study. Just make sure to buy foods with only natural peanut oils — not added fats.
Dental dangers of peanuts
- The shell. Never use your teeth to break the shell of a peanut. You’ll risk chipping or even cracking a tooth, which can be painful and warrant a trip to the dentist. Instead, use your hands to open the shell, or choose peanuts that have already been shelled.
- Sugar. Even though peanut butter boasts some great nutritional benefits, it may come with a load of unnecessary sugar. There’s no reason for your diet to cause tooth decay. Always check the ingredients and pick brands free of added sugars and syrups.
- Sticky. Save peanut butter for when you’ve got a toothbrush handy. The sticky snack can stay on your teeth, promoting plaque-causing bacteria.
Use good judgment
As with most foods, using good judgment and moderation is key when eating peanuts. You don’t want to eat a whole jar of peanut butter in one sitting, but having a few handfuls of peanuts as a snack won’t affect your waistline and may even be good for you.