Plenty of foods are rich in calcium, and many do not contain dairy. This may be good news, particularly for vegans and people who are lactose intolerant so cannot fully digest dairy products.
Why do we need calcium
Calcium is one of the minerals your body needs to function. You probably already know that it’s important for strong bones and teeth, but did you know that calcium is also needed to ensure your blood clots properly and that your heart beats as it should?
What does calcium do?
It’s no secret that calcium is vital for the health of your bones, including the vertebrae in your spine and teeth, but that’s just the beginning. This mineral also helps your body maintain healthy blood vessels and regulate blood pressure. Plus, it might play a role in preventing colon cancer.
Adults should consume about 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day (which translates to about one glass of skim milk, one thick slice of cheddar cheese, and 1 cup of plain yoghurt).
Symptoms Of Calcium Deficiency
A calcium deficiency often has no obvious symptoms. When symptoms do show up, they might include
• Numbness and tingling in your fingers
• muscle cramps
• poor appetite
• abnormal heart rhythm
• Neurological muscle & skin changes, such as confusion, memory loss, anxiety, seizures, and psoriasis
10 Calcium-Rich Foods That Aren’t a Glass of Milk
Beans are rich in calcium content. Other than this, beans are also packed with protein.
A half-cup of canned baked beans provides more than 40 mg of calcium. And a half cup of white beans provides 81 mg of calcium. White beans are a low-fat food and are also rich in iron. Add them to a favourite soup or salad, eat them in a side dish, or add them to a low-sodium soup.
Almonds are a go-to snack for a reason. Just one serving (roughly ¼ cup or the amount you could hold in your hand) packs tons of heart-healthy unsaturated fats, some protein and fibre to tame your hunger, and you guessed it—nearly 100 mg of calcium!
A half-cup of unroasted almonds contains over 130 mg of calcium. You can consume almonds as it is or even have homemade almond milk to complete your calcium requirement. One glass every day is tremendously nutritious for you.
Just be sure you control your portions here: one serving already stacks up at about 200 calories.
Believe it or not, even your breakfast oatmeal cooked in water has calcium in it. Even though the quantity is not high, you can keep oatmeal as an option to fulfil your calcium dose. One packet of unsweetened instant oatmeal makes for a convenient breakfast and contains over 100 mg of calcium.
Try it: blend 1 cup of homemade Oat milk with 1 cup of your favourite fresh chopped fruits for a healthy smoothie.
Oranges are a superb source of vitamin C and calcium at the same time. One orange (150 g) has about 60 mg of calcium. Another option could be to drink a small glass of orange juice that has been fortified with calcium and vitamin D (but no added sugars).
Just one cup of the stuff will deliver roughly 350 mg of calcium, along with vitamin D (as long as it is fortified), vitamin C, vitamin A, and even potassium. However, juicing an orange will deplete a major amount of it. Therefore, stick to having whole oranges either as a snack or in your fruit bowl.
5. SOY MILK
A great choice for those with lactose intolerance. Soy milk consists of more protein and calcium than a regular glass of milk.
Calcium-fortified soy milk contains just as much of the mineral as good old cow’s milk. On top of that, soy milk packs the most protein of all dairy-free milk options at roughly 8 grams per serving (the same as cow’s milk!).
Try it: You can either include it in your morning cereal, have it in your coffee or make dairy-free latte alternatives.
6. GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES
Green leafy vegetables provide over 100 mg of calcium per serving, making them a great source of the same. Eating leafy greens can help you meet the recommended daily intake of calcium. Some leafy greens with higher calcium contents include:
Calcium per 1 cup:53 milligram (5% DV)
This nutrient-packed green is filled with calcium and antioxidants. Shred-it into thin strips for a perfect base for any salad. Kale belongs to the cruciferous family of vegetables, is loaded with antioxidants, which can prevent or delay cell damage.
Kale is also low in calories, with every 100 grams containing only 35 calories. Add chopped kale to a salad or sauté or steam the vegetable as a side dish.
• Bok choy
Known as Chinese cabbage, bok choy is another major source of calcium for our milk-haters and lactose-intolerant friends. Because of the green pigment present in bok choy, it makes it a loaded source of calcium, vitamin A and C. You can blanch bok choy and have it in the form of a salad.
One cup of the raw plant contains 74 mg of calcium, while one cooked cups offers 158 mg.
• Turnip greens
Calcium per 1 cup: 80 milligram(8% DV)
This leafy green comes from turnip bulbs and is filled with calcium, vitamin A, and folate. Not too familiar with turnip greens? Try sauteing them as a side dish.
To bring in the crunch factor to your foods include sesame seeds. They have 88 mg of calcium in one tablespoon.
These unassuming seeds are more than just a hamburger bun decoration. Since they’re high in magnesium, sesame seeds may help lower blood pressure, improve symptoms of insomnia, and boost mood.
Plus, their antioxidant content has been shown to reduce inflammation in people with osteoarthritis. Use their nutty crunch in a salad or subzis and even rotis.
A half cup of firm tofu has 861 mg of calcium (86% DV). So… what exactly is tofu, again? This hearty vegetarian meat substitute is made of dried soybeans that have been ground up and boiled. It’s a great way to add lots of protein, a little fat, and (of course) calcium to any meal.
Just remember to check the food label first as tofu calcium levels can vary greatly. Calcium-set tofu is a bone-friendly choice, especially if you avoid animal products. Look for varieties made with calcium sulfate, suggests the NIH.
It’s no secret that dairy products are a great source of calcium, but you don’t have to drink milk to get your fix. Take plain, low-fat yogurt for example. The average serving size of 8 ounces (or 1 cup) has a whopping 448 mg of calcium. On top of that, you’ll get more than 10 grams of protein and roughly 4 grams of good-for-you fats, which will help keep you full until your next meal. Throw some berries on top for added sweetness, antioxidants, and fiber.
Check out these based recipes that turn plain yoghurt into a better for you snack in just 5 minutes.
Here’s another green plant you can add to your list: just one cup of chopped raw broccoli packs 43 mg of calcium. If you can’t stand the raw flavor, you’ll get roughly double the calcium in a cooked cup of this crunchy veggie. Bonus: you’ll also get a nice dose of fiber (for your digestion) potassium (for your heart), vitamin C (for your skin) and vitamin A (for healthy immune function and eyes).
Try it: There are endless ways to enjoy broccoli, but here is the Best Way to Cook Broccoli for the Highest Health Benefits
CALCIUM ALONE IS NOT ENOUGH
When it comes to actually absorbing calcium into your body, it’s not just about a food’s calcium content – it’s about the availability of that calcium to your body, which is why even though spinach contains a lot of calcium, it’s not as bioavailable which makes it unlikely to be a great source of calcium in your diet.
You also need vitamin D, either from your diet or from exposure to sunlight, so that your body can absorb the calcium. Pair high-vitamin D choices like salmon, tuna, eggs, and mushrooms with any of the foods listed here.
What are your favourite calcium-rich foods? Let us know below!