Raisins Can Fight Against Cavities And Gum Disease

Raisins are dried grapes. They are produced in many regions of the world. Raisins may be eaten raw or used in cooking, baking and brewing. In the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada the word “raisin” is reserved for the dried large dark grape, with “sultana” being a dried large white grape, and “currant” being a dried small Black Corinth grape.

Raisin varieties depend on the type of grape used, and are made in a variety of sizes and colors including green, black, blue, purple, and yellow. Seedless varieties include the sultana (also known as Thompson Seedless in the USA) and Flame grapes. Raisins are typically sun-dried, but may also be water-dipped, or dehydrated. “Golden raisins” are made from sultanas, treated with sulfur dioxide (SO2), and flame-dried to give them their characteristic color. A particular variety of seedless grape, the Black Corinth, is also sun-dried to produce Zante currants, miniature raisins that are much darker in color and have a tart, tangy flavor. Several varieties of raisins are produced in Asia and, in the West, are only available at ethnic specialty grocers. Green raisins are produced in Iran.

Raisins range from about 67% to 72% sugars by weight, most of which is fructose and glucose. They also contain about 3% protein and 3.5% dietary fiber. Raisins, like prunes and apricots, are also high in certain antioxidants. As with all dried fruits, raisins have a very low vitamin C content. Raisins are low in sodium and contain no cholesterol. New research has shown, despite having a high concentration of sugars, raisins fight bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities and gum disease. Raisins can cause renal failure in dogs. The cause of this is not known.

Compounds found in raisins fight bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities and gum disease, according to researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“Our laboratory analyses showed that phytochemicals in this popular snack food suppressed the growth of oral bacteria associated with caries and gum disease,” said Christine Wu, professor and associate dean for research at the UIC College of Dentistry and lead author of the study. Phytochemicals are compounds found in higher plants.

The data were presented today at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Atlanta.

Wu and her co-workers performed routine chemical analyses to identify five phytochemicals in Thompson seedless raisins: oleanolic acid, oleanolic aldehyde, betulin, betulinic acid and 5-(hydroxymethyl)-2-furfural.

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