12 Foods That Naturally Whiten Your Teeth

Try these natural solutions for a brilliant beam.

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We've all been told to avoid red wine, dark berries, and black coffee in our quests for pearly whites, but what about foods that actually brighten your smile?

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Strawberries

They may be bright red, but malic acid, a chief component of this summery fruit, acts as a natural astringent to remove surface tooth discoloration, says Dr. Irwin Smigel, president of the American Society for Dental Aesthetics. Fresh, juicy strawberries taste great in any meal—salads, desserts, cereal—and are widely available at farmers markets this time of year, so getting your daily dose is both simple and delicious.

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<p>"Too many of my clients steer clear of nuts because they're high in fat, but dietitians eat them because we know that monounsaturated fat, in moderation, can help you maintain your weight or even lose. Almonds and walnuts are my favorites. They satisfy a crunchy craving, and the fat-fiber combo fills me up. Nuts are also loaded with protein, antioxidants, and a variety of vitamins and minerals."<em> &mdash;Keri Glassman</em></p>
Charles Masters
Seeds and nuts

Chewing these lightly abrasive, hard foods rubs plaque and stains off the surface of teeth, says Dr. Matthew Messina, a spokesperson for the American Dental Association. Pop a few almonds for a mid-afternoon snack—they're full of protein, healthy fats, and the crunch you need to get pearly whites.

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Although they may not be the ideal pre-date snack, the notoriously bad-for-breath alliums could be beneficial to teeth. Because they're colorless, they won't cause surface stains, says Dr. Messina, adding that after eating them, you're more likely to brush&#151;which is a surefire way to get whiter teeth.
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Onions

Although they may not be the ideal pre-date snack, the notoriously bad-for-breath alliums could be beneficial to teeth. Because they're colorless, they won't cause surface stains, says Messina, adding that after eating them you're more likely to brush—which is a surefire way to get whiter teeth.

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An apple a day may keep the doctor away &mdash; but only if you choose wisely. The most nutritious options include Braeburn, Cortland, Gala, Honeycrisp, McInthosh, and Red Delicious, with tart, green Granny Smiths taking the ultimate prize. Once you settle of a variety, look for those with the deepest coloring, and munch on the skin as well as the flesh. "Apples in full sun turn red, and when we eat them, we benefit," says Robinson. "The ones that are the reddest had to produce the most phytonutrients." Skip Elstar, Empire, Ginger Gold, Golden Delicious and Pink Ladies, which can have as little as eight percent of the phytonutrients of better-for-you apples.
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Apples

The loud crunch you hear when you bite into this hard fruit may be annoying, but it's also good for your choppers. Apples' crispiness strengthens gums, and their high water content increases saliva production, dispersing and neutralizing colonies of bacteria that lead to bad breath and plaque, says Smigel.

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Take a toothpaste break and try brushing with this common ingredient. Baking soda is a base, like bleach, notes Dr. Messina, and the "soda"&#151;which is actually a form of salt&#151;in this pantry staple is a mild abrasive that works to scrub off plaque and surface stains.
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Baking soda

Take a toothpaste break and try brushing with this common ingredient. Baking soda is a base, like bleach, notes Messina, and the "soda"—which is actually a form of salt—in this pantry staple is a mild abrasive that works to scrub off plaque and surface stains.

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<p>These fresh little carrots aren&rsquo;t like the &ldquo;baby-cut&rdquo; ones you&rsquo;ll find in most grocery stores &mdash; they&rsquo;re young, sweet and still have their tops attached. Roast them in olive oil and spices for a rustic yet elegant side dish. Get the recipe at <a href="http://familystylefood.com/2011/03/roasted-cumin-lime-carrots/%20" target="_blank">familystylefood.com</a>.</p>
Courtesy of Karen Tedesco
Celery and carrots

The same high water content that makes these veggies great for your waistline and your health also helps them whiten your teeth by stimulating saliva production, which aids in washing away food debris and strengthening gums, according to Smigel.

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Broccoli

Unlike beets and cranberries, this crunchy vegetable doesn't stay stuck to teeth, so it won't cause unsightly surface stains, says Messina. Throw some raw broccoli into your lunch—the florets will scrub the surface of teeth, giving them a brief and natural midday brush.

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Hard cheese, like the little blocks you get on those delicious appetizer trays, is full of calcium, which strengthens teeth and gums, explains Dr. Smigel. Plus, most cheeses are near colorless, meaning they won't stain your teeth. So go ahead, order that cheese plate.
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Cheese

Hard cheese, like the little blocks you get on those delicious appetizer trays, is full of calcium, which strengthens teeth and gums, explains Smigel. Plus, most cheeses are near colorless, meaning they won't stain your teeth. So go ahead, order that cheese plate.

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Oranges

This bright fruit contains citrus, an acid that can wear away tooth enamel if ingested in large doses, making teeth whiter—but at a cost, says Messina. So while we don't recommend gulping down bags of oranges in the spirit of a bright smile, a juicy helping once in a while is good for your pearly whites, and thanks to loads of vitamin C, your overall health too.

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<p>A new German study found that when you drink 17 ounces of water (about two glasses) within a certain time frame, your metabolic rate shoots up by about 30 percent. Using these results, they estimate that by increasing your current water intake by 1.5 liters a day, a person would burn an extra 17,400 calories a year, resulting in about a five-pound weight loss.</p>
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Water

Drink lots of water to keep your mouth hydrated and your smile bright, advises Smigel, who recommends sipping and swishing between glasses of wine and when eating dark, pigmented foods to prevent staining. However, while water reduces the acidity in your mouth and the resulting damage to your enamel, Dr. Smigel warns against imbibing too much sparkling water, which has greater potential to erode enamel and harm teeth.

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Get the term pear-shaped out of your mind: this fruit is a part of a winning diet plan. According to Glassman, pears have high levels of pectin, which is know to promote weight loss.  They also have 30 percent more potassium than apples and are a great energy booster and easy snack, dessert or salad topping.
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Pears

Smigel recommends munching on a pear to neutralize pesky odor-causing and staining bacteria colonies on teeth. Increased saliva production brought on by this sweet, delicious fruit also washes away food debris, leaving teeth clean and sparkling.

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Milk and yogurt

These dairy products are teeth superfoods. Their high calcium content strengthens teeth, making enamel healthier and whiter, says Messina. But be warned: Not all calcium-rich foods—like spinach with its dark, stain-causing pigmentation—have the same effect. Chow down on a high-protein Greek yogurt for a snack, or pair after-dinner cookies with a cold glass of milk to get that gleam.

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