Earlier this week, we shared the surprising link between your oral health and your immune system — especially as it pertains to your risks of infections and chronic disease. Did you know that there are specific foods that are specifically shown to help improve your oral health? The following delicious recipes aren’t just full of nutrients and antioxidants that boost your immune system, but they also are made with healthy ingredients that come recommended by the University of Chicago’s College of Dentistry as being the best for your oral health. Eat your way to a whiter, healthier smile — and a stronger immune system!
BREAKFAST: Very Berry Greek Yogurt Smoothie
Yogurt is beloved by dentists for a few key reasons: It’s high in calcium (which is good for maintaining bone and tooth density), high in casein (a type of protein that helps strengthen the enamel on your teeth), and rich in probiotics (which not only protects against bad bread, tooth decay, and gum disease, but also enhances your gut health and immune system). This shake is rich and creamy thanks to Greek yogurt, which is one of the most protein-rich types of yogurt and will keep you feeling full and happy all morning long.
While the yogurt contains no added sugar (your dentist will love it), you’ll get a hint of natural sweetness from the berries. Beyond sweetening your breakfast shake, they also are high in flavonoids and other plant compounds that strengthen your immune system and reduce your risks of numerous diseases. The secret to this delightful breakfast is the addition of oats — they’re rich in fiber, which supports your digestion and metabolism, but also gives this shake an exceptionally creamy, smooth texture.
1 cup whole frozen strawberries, ideally organic
1 frozen banana
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (no added sugar)
2 tbsp oats
1 tbsp peanut butter or a nut butter of your choice
1 cup of unsweetened dairy milk or plant-based milk
Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend until creamy. Enjoy!
LUNCH: Thai Shrimp and Carrot Salad
Transport your tastebuds to southeast Asia with this flavorful, satisfying salad that packs a flavorful punch. It takes just minutes to prepare, is delightful either at room temperature or cold, and is high in fiber and protein.
“In addition to packing lots of nutrients, carrots are also one of the great cavity-fighting vegetables,” reports the University of Chicago. “Carrots contain lots of vitamin C, calcium and keratins which all offer oral health benefits. Eating fresh carrots also helps to clean your teeth – like a natural toothbrush. When combined with your saliva, carrots help to wash away stain-causing bacteria and food particles.”
Carrots are also one of the best sources of carotenoids, a type of antioxidant that has been shown to reduce numerous forms of cancer (including stomach cancer and breast cancer), as well as improving your eye health and supporting healthier cholesterol levels.
8 oz. package of uncooked brown rice noodles
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp roasted sesame oil
1/8 tsp crushed red chile pepper
1/2 lb. cooked, peeled and deveined medium shrimp with tails removed (approximately 40-50 shrimp)
4 cups shredded carrots
1/3 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
1/2 cup sliced shallots
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
Cook the brown rice noodles as instructed on the package (every brand is a little different). You can also use soba noodles if you don’t have brown rice noodles. Once cooked al dente, drain and set aside to cool.
In a big salad bowl, whisk together the lime juice, vinegar, red pepper seasoning, and sesame oil. Add the cooled noodles and toss well, along with the rest of the ingredients. Enjoy chilled or at room temperature.
DINNER: Caramelized Apples and Salmon
The naturally sweet apples pair perfectly with delicate salmon. The former helps neutralize the acids in your mouth, which the University of Chicago says will help prevent tooth decay and boost your oral health. They’re also a great source of fiber, which helps to “brush” your teeth as you eat.
The main star is salmon. It’s packed with protein, and high in omega-3 fatty acids which most Americans don’t get enough of. A diet high in these healthy fats has been shown to boost everything from your immune system to your brain health. Best of all, this dish looks like it rolled out of a gourmet kitchen but it only takes a few minutes to prep — perfect for busy weekday nights or relaxed weekends where you don’t want to spend all afternoon doing dinner prep.
2 large apples, sliced (ideally local and organic)
1 white onion, minced
1 1/2-pound salmon fillet, skin on (ideally wild and not farmed)
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp honey (ideally local and organic)
1/2 salt garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheight. While your oven is heating up, add the minced onions and sliced apples to a 11×7-inch baking dish to cover the bottom of the dish. Add the salmon on top of the fruit and onions, skin side facing down.
In a bowl, whisk together the seasoning, honey and mustard. Drizzle onto the salmon, then bake for 20 minutes or until the salmon is pink and flakey. Enjoy on its own, or with a fiber-rich side dish like quinoa, whole grain brown rice, or a salad (greens like spinach and kale are also fibrous and help to boost your oral health).