If you’ve ever finished off a tub of popcorn only to spend the next hour picking corn kernels out of your teeth, you probably find it hard to believe that popcorn can promote dental health. But when you prepare it the right way (read: no fake movie theater “butter”), popcorn can not only reduce plaque buildup, it can also help your childrens’ jaw growth so they don’t need braces in the future.
When made traditionally—with GMO corn and industrial seed oils—popcorn is highly inflammatory. Inflammation is related to gum disease and a host of other widespread concerns. (1) And, let’s be honest, nobody needs an extra 1200 empty calories—which is what you’ll find in a standard, large-sized bucket of movie popcorn.
While preparing any food at home is generally better than eating it out, home-popped popcorn comes with its own risks. For starters, microwave popcorn bags are typically lined with PFOA, a potentially toxic chemical that’s released when heated (and is the same stuff found on your non-stick cookware). (2)
It is possible, however, to make good-for-you popcorn that promotes dental and overall health. And it starts with butter.
The star of this recipe is grass-fed butter that is chock full of vitamin K2. In conjunction with vitamins A and D3, vitamin K2 works to get calcium from your digestive system into your teeth (and bones), which helps to reverse smaller, existing cavities and prevent new ones from forming. (3, 4, 5)
All mammals (other than humans) carry an enzyme that allows them to convert naturally-occuring vitamin K1 into K2 in large amounts. The enzyme is then activated by chlorophyll, which is present in grass and other leafy veggies.
This explains why choosing dairy from grass-fed cows is so important. Cows fed grain aren’t efficiently converting K1 to K2, so the amount of vitamin K2 in conventional dairy products is often very low or negligible. (8)
In addition to grass-fed butter, this recipe contains other helpful ingredients like cinnamon, which may help to reduce symptoms of oral thrush (especially in people with compromised immune systems). (9)
Turmeric is one of the world’s most powerful anti-inflammatory agents that may also naturally whiten teeth and support a balanced oral microbiome. (10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15) And real sea salt is rich in trace minerals that many of us don’t get every day, even though they’re necessary for remineralizing teeth. (16)
Finally convinced that popcorn can be good for your teeth? Let’s take a look at the recipe.
- Melt the butter on low in a small pan.
- Once butter is melted, stir in the turmeric, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Set aside.
- Heat a 3-quart saucepan to medium-high heat, add coconut oil.
- When oil is hot, add a few popcorn kernels and cover.
- Once those have popped, add the rest of the kernels in an even layer.
- Remove from the heat for 30 seconds and return the pot back to the heat.
- When the popcorn starts to pop, slightly open the lid to let the steam escape and gently move the pan back and forth on the burner to prevent burning.
- Once the pops slow to a few seconds in between, remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl big enough to stir the butter on the popcorn.
- Season with spiced butter and salt.