When you think about hops, your mind probably wanders to your favorite beer and not to the potential disease fighting properties it can provide you. However, new research has indicated that hops - a major ingredient in beer-making - can actually have some dental health benefits.
According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a journal put out by the American Chemical Society, part of the plant could actually help to ward off cavities and gum disease.
The hop leaves contain an antioxidant compound that can prevent bacteria from adhering to the surface of the teeth. Unfortunately for beer drinkers, this part is unused in the beer making process, so you can't use this as an excuse to indulge in your favorite brew.
The Hops Study According to the ACS, about 30,000 tons of hops are harvested each year in the U.S. alone. The bracts, or hop leaves, are discarded, but scientists believe that these leaves could be repurposed for use in dental applications.
Researchers actually found three new compounds in hops that had not been previously reported, and they also found high amounts of healthy antioxidants. However, more research will be needed to sort out exactly which of these compounds provides benefits the teeth in order to target and utilize them for dental purposes.
While this study doesn't give you an excuse to head down to your favorite bar this evening, this research is still very important, even if it is only in the beginning stages. People often focus on the foods and beverages that damage teeth instead of those that can strengthen them.
In the meantime, until research about hops has been completed, if you want to enjoy some of the same benefits you can enjoy other foods and beverages that contain these healthy compounds, including green tea and cranberries.