Can Saliva Kill Beneficial Compounds in Berries?

BerriesBerries, rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients have been shown through research to promote better health and even prevent diseases, including oral health issues. Gum disease and tooth decay have been especially looked at in regard to these possible medicinal properties of darkly colored fruits. However, a concern remains regarding the ability of these healthy substances to survive the saliva in our mouths that carry them deeper into our bodies. Your Farmington dentist, Dr. Aziza Askari, will highlight a recent study that tackles this concern.

Berry Good for Dental Health?

It’s too early to name the best berry for health promotion based on this initial work, but the researchers have discovered that two families of pigments that provide berries with their colors, called anthocyanins, are more susceptible to degradation in the mouth than are the other four classes of these pigments. 

Research from Ohio State University was recently published in the journal Food Chemistry. Scientists exposed the extracts of a variety of berries to the saliva collected from 14 study participants. Mark Failla, professor of human nutrition at the university, and interim chair of the Department of Human Sciences said, “Increased intake of fruits and vegetables is associated with decreased risk of some chronic diseases. An understanding of the metabolism of these compounds, and the relative activities of the compounds in the consumed fruit and their metabolic products, is needed to make scientifically sound dietary recommendations and to develop effective delivery vehicles for the mouth.”

Details of the Study

The 14 individuals studied were between the ages of 21 and 55-years-old, and generally healthy. They were instructed to collect saliva in the morning, prior to breakfast or brushing teeth. Later, additional saliva samples were collected before and after the participants rinsed their mouths out with an antibacterial mouthwash. Purified anthocyanin extracts from various berries were added to the saliva samples.  Two families of anthocyanins showed marked degradation of potency when exposed to saliva, while four families were much more stable, even when exposed to the salivary emanations.

Says Failla, “If anthocyanins are the actual health-promoting compound, you would want to design food products, confectionaries and gels containing mixtures of anthocyanins that are stable in the mouth. If, on the other hand, the metabolites produced by the metabolism of anthocyanins are the actual health-promoting compounds, there will be greater interest in fruits that contain anthocyanins that are less stable in the oral cavity,” Failla said. “We lack such insights at this time.”

Visit Your Farmington Hills Dentist

More research is needed, and it may be many years before we have a true idea of which dietary choices might most help improve our dental health. For now, rely on the information we have, which includes preventive dental checkups and cleanings twice-a-year. You can arrange an appointment with Comfort Dental Spa by calling our Farmington Hills dentist office at (248) 474-6434. We are happy to serve patients in Farmington Hills, MI, the 48335 zip code, and surrounding neighborhoods.