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Best Non-Dairy Calcium Sources

Most Americans are brought up to believe that milk and other dairy products are essential foods, due in part to the calcium they contain. Yet many other cultures consume little or no dairy, and often live longer, healthier lives than Americans on average.

There’s no doubt that calcium is essential. According to the National Institutes of Health, the body must maintain a constant level of calcium to support numerous functions─including muscle and blood vessel contraction and expansion, the secretion of hormones and enzymes, and messaging through the nervous system.

Experts agree that we need 800mg to 1200mg per day. Does avoiding dairy mean falling short on calcium? By no means! In fact, many non-dairy foods are chock full of calcium and the other minerals that work along with it to promote healthy bones.

For example:
Fortified soy and almond milks: 1 cup = 300-400 mg
Collard greens: 1 cup, cooked = 357 mg
Tofu: ½ cup = 350 mg
Sardines: 3 oz = 325 mg
Chia seeds: 1.5 ounces = 300 mg per
Canned salmon: 3.5 oz = 277 mg.
Kale: ½ cup = 205 mg
Bok Choy: ½ cup = 190 mg
Blackstrap molasses: 1 Tbsp = 172 mg
Figs: 5 = 135 mg
Almonds: ¼ cup = 95 mg.

You can easily incorporate these nutritious foods into your diet with these tips:
• Boost your tofu intake with scrumptious recipes like Mexican Tofu Scramble, Korean Tofu Stew, Tofu Ranchero, Curried Tofu, Tofu Burgers, and more:
• Mince collards and kale in salads along with lighter greens, or incorporate as you would spinach in lasagna, stuffed shells, soups and stews, dips, etc.
• Use almond or soy milk for cereal, pancakes, mashed potatoes, and oatmeal.
• Use almond butter instead of peanut butter, or blend the two. Stuff figs with almond butter for an elegant dessert.
• Make gingerbread with calcium-dense blackstrap molasses.
• Add black-eyed peas to soups, salads, pasta sauces, and burritos.
• Try baked beans on toast─tasty, calcium-rich, complete protein.
• Use canned salmon rather than tuna for salads, sandwiches, and melts.

Rest assured, you can indeed protect your bones with these healthy, natural foods. In addition, women of all ages would be well advised to supplement a calcium formula that includes vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin K, selenium, and other bone-health minerals. Eat well, stay strong!

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