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Archive for Wednesday, December 10, 1997

CARBOHYDRATES ROOT CAUSE OF DECAY

December 10, 1997

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I was told that a snack of crackers can be just as harmful in promoting tooth decay as a fruit drink. Is this true?

Crackers eaten as a between-meal snack can be just as harmful to the teeth as a sugary drink if the teeth are not brushed after eating.

Eating lots of sugary foods does promote tooth decay, but tooth decay is more than just a matter of sugars and how much of them we eat.

Both sugars and starches -- which break down into sugars -- can contribute to tooth decay. Many nutritious foods naturally contain sugar and starches. These foods include milk, fruits, vegetables, breads, cereals, rice and pastas. They may also contain added sugar as ingredients. Other foods such as candies and sweets are high in added sugars.

The more these foods -- even a small amount -- are eaten, and the longer they are in the mouth before teeth are brushed, the greater the risk of tooth decay. Eating such foods as frequent between-meal snacks may be more harmful to teeth than eating them at meals when beverages and additional saliva help rinse the teeth.

Fluoridated water, toothpaste and careful dental hygiene are also important for maintaining healthy teeth.

Can I substitute dark brown sugar for light brown sugar in a recipe?

Yes. For 1 cup of light brown sugar, substitute 1/2 cup dark brown sugar plus 1/2 cup granulated white sugar.

-- Susan Krumm is an Extension agent in home economics and consumer science with K-State Research & Extension-Douglas County, 2110 Harper. She can be reached at 843-7058.

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