It has long been recognized that the polyunsaturated fatty acids found in foods such as salmon and nuts are beneficial for the heart and vascular system. However, new studies are showing that they may also help prevent periodontitis, a common type of gum disease. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston recently found that people with diets rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids were 30% less likely to have periodontitis than those who did not.
“We found that n-3 fatty acid intake, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are inversely associated with periodontitis in the U.S. population,” says researcher Asghar Z. Naqvi, MPH, MNS.
So what is the link between heart and gums? Polyunsaturated fatty acids were originally shown to decrease inflammation in heart disease. Researchers believe the same mechanism is in effect with reduction of inflammation that causes gum disease. They found positive results with only 40 milligrams of DHA and 10 milligrams of EPA. Researchers claim that this sort of dietary therapy may be more effective than the current treatment of periodontitis, which mostly involves cleaning and antibiotic application.
Researchers will continue to explore this link between foods with healthy fats, such as salmon and nuts, and the reduction in the risk of gum disease. In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt to add a little more salmon in your diet. It may help reduce inflammation in many areas as well as helping to prevent heart disease and stroke.