(WellnessNova.com) - Calcium does so much good for our bodies, keeping our bones and teeth strong while helping nerves, cells and muscles work properly. It also helps keep blood pressure stable. It is widely believed that calcium only comes from dairy products. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Countless individuals are convinced that their necessary calcium intake (1000 to 1200 milligrams for adults depending on age) must come from several glasses of milk, yogurt or cheese products daily. However, there are many foods that offer this necessary mineral to build and maintain strong bones and teeth and help prevent osteoporosis.
If consuming dairy, one cup of milk provides 300 milligrams of calcium. But if you are lactose intolerant, have dairy allergies, are vegan or have personal or other health preferences, there are many other foods and beverages that provide the daily calcium levels your body requires.
Here are some sources of calcium you can make a part of your daily eating habits instead of dairy:
1. Canned Salmon
(232 milligrams in half a can including the bones) Don’t throw away those bones when you eat salmon out of a can! The soft bones contain calcium and are easily mashed up with the salmon and digested.
One can of salmon, including the bones, meets almost half the necessary daily intake of calcium. Also look into adding mackerel to your list of calcium options.
2. Canned Sardines
(569 milligrams in one cup, drained, including bones) Whether you want to add sardines to your meal or eat them individually as a snack, they offer a calcium punch. Try them on toast, on a cracker or a salad. It’s easy to get these in a can or fresh in most grocery stores.
(378 milligrams in one cup) Almonds make a great snack or an excellent addition sprinkled on a salad. If a cup is too much for a snack, a handful of almonds – 23 to be exact – will help out you out with a calcium intake of 74 milligrams. Almonds are also great in baking and make an excellent flour when finely ground.
4. Bok Choy
(74 milligrams in one cup, shredded) Add bok choy to your favourite stir-fry and get your necessary calcium at the same time. Also healthy in the calcium department for you are similar foods like pak choi and green and red leaf cabbage.
5. Fortified Milk Alternatives
(250 to 400 milligrams per serving) There are many alternatives to dairy milk and many of them are fortified with vitamins and minerals including calcium. Read the nutritional information on beverages such as cashew, almond, coconut and rice milk as the levels will vary with the majority containing 250 miligrams or more of calcium. This is one of the easiest ways to meet your daily calcium needs.
(65 milligrams in one orange) And you thought oranges were only good for their vitamin C content! It’s the perfect snack of sunshine – and calcium – in your day.
7. Fortified Orange Juice
(500 milligrams in one cup) Your best bet is to eat an actual orange and if you are going to have juice, fresh squeezed is always the best if available. But the majority of store-bought orange juice will have the benefit of being fortified with vitamins and minerals so take advantage of it when you can.
A glass of juice is a nice treat for a weekend brunch or in a tasty Mimosa! Make sure to read the nutritional information listed on individual orange juice products for the levels of calcium added to determine which brand works best for you.
(245 milligrams in one cup) Spinach is one of the most versatile vegetables and thus an easy way to incorporate into your daily meals. Whether in a salad or as part of a soup, stir-fry or side dish, this vegetable packs a calcium punch. It’s really tasty simply sautéed with some oil and salt.
(123 milligrams in one cup) This high-fiber vegetable is filled with necessary vitamins and minerals, including calcium. It is excellent grilled, and is often found in delicious stews. This is one versatile vegetable that once you experiment with ways to cook, will become a favourite in your cooking repertoire.
10. Collard Greens
(266 milligrams in one cup, cooked) Collard greens are one of the most powerful vegetables in the cruciferous family with an excellent level of vitamin K. Retain the most health benefits by steaming, but collard greens are also delicious sautéed with a little oil and sea salt or simply with bacon for a super easy side dish.
(188 milligrams in one cup, raw, chopped) Kale has become an extremely popular superfood over the last few years due to its versatility and its nutritional makeup. Along with its calcium properties, it can be added to smoothies or made into snack chips and makes an excellent salad.
12. Dried Figs
(300 milligrams in one cup) Dried figs make the perfect, sweet snack that is also healthy! This versatile, potassium-rich food is a sweet alternative to rich desserts but also makes a beautiful addition to a summer salad. It’s the perfect snack for kids who feel they are getting a treat while also getting their calcium. They do have a high amount of sugar, so as with all sweet foods, eat dried figs in moderation.
(43 milligrams in one cup, chopped) Broccoli is an easy-to-steam, no-fuss side dish for any meal. It’s also tasty raw with party dips like hummus and makes a perfect addition to a salad. Add it to a stir-fry with several of the foods listed here for a calcium-rich meal. One more surprising reason to eat broccoli? It contains nearly twice the amount of vitamin C of an orange!
14. Blackstrap Molasses
(172 milligrams per tablespoon) Darker in colour than molasses, blackstrap molasses makes a great sweet swap for syrup on pancakes or as a substitution in baking. Rich in flavour, it also delivers the benefits of iron and other vitamins.
15. Sesame Seeds
(88 milligrams per tablespoon) You’ll most likely think about a sesame seed hamburger bun. But, the seeds can be cooked into your favourite stir-fry, sprinkled on any meal giving them a nutty taste and slight crunch. They add texture to baked goods and when ground, make healthy and delicious spreads like tahini and sesame butter. Think about this – a quarter cup of sesame seeds provides more calcium than a cup of whole milk.
If you are eating healthy balanced meals featuring several of the above-mentioned foods and beverages, chances are good that you are getting enough calcium everyday. There are many more excellent non-dairy sources of calcium especially in leafy greens so be sure to do some more reading and eating!
Keep in mind calcium consumption is just one aspect of bone health – exercise is another. So make sure to move your body to keep your bones and system healthy!