20 Unconventional Non-Dairy Foods With High Calcium Content
Calcium is one of the most important nutrients required by our body. It helps in the development and strengthening of bones, teeth, muscles and nerve signals. No wonder then that our mothers made sure that we forced down a couple of glasses of milk each day.
However, contrary to common perception there are many other sources that are equally rich in calcium, as milk and other dairy products. Perfect for those who cannot take milk due to various reasons (remember the Lactose intolerant Leonard from Big Bang!), these non-dairy calcium-rich foods are easy to incorporate in one’s diet. Besides, these are the ultimate blessings for children who get nightmares seeing the tall tumblers of the white liquid poised authoritatively over the breakfast table.
How much calcium does your body needs?
Adults require an average intake of 1000mg of calcium per day. For women over 50 years as well as elderly people over 70 years the recommended daily intake or RDI increases to 1200mg per day. For children between the age of 4 -18 years the RDI is 1300mg per day.
Since calcium is the most important mineral directly related to bone and muscle development, it goes without saying that the intake of sufficient calcium is required for a healthy life.
Why is calcium more important for children and women?
Bones grow fastest during childhood and puberty. Between the ages of 18-25 the ‘peak bone mass’ is reached and as one gets older it gets more difficult to replace old bones.
Women need different levels of calcium depending on their age. The body of a woman goes through a number of physical changes, such as menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. Menopause is the time when women need more calcium than usual because the amount of estrogen, which protects the bones drops alarmingly in their body. In fact, the bone density can fall up to 20 percent within 7 years after menopause if women start ignoring their calcium levels or it can also lead to osteoporosis.
(Read How Calcium helps you in having a Healthy Pregnancy?)
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition where the bone density decreases and body is unable to produce new bones as it did before. It can affect everyone, including children, though women after menopause are more susceptible to it. With the bones becoming weaker there are high chances of a fracture even during minor falls.
Non-Dairy Calcium-Rich Foods
We all know that dairy products such as milk and cheese are rich in calcium. Yet there are a number of non-dairy calcium-containing foods that can be added to the daily diet. Here is taking a look at the top 20 non-dairy calcium-rich foods that include fruits, vegetables, legumes and more.
We know that oranges have a high concentration of Vitamin C, but not many know that oranges are also a great source of calcium. Eating the fruit ensures a higher calcium intake than drinking its juice. You can also add orange to your salads or use it as an ingredient with grilled chicken or other dishes.
This dry fruit is another favorite of our mothers! Considered to have multiple benefits, 100g of almonds contain about 264mg of calcium. Diligently munching on a few almonds each day is a great way to power your mental and physical health.
This oily fish is packed with protein, omega fats, and calcium. If you want your bones to be fitter do not fuss! Munch the sardine’s edible bones which are the main source of calcium. Canned salmon also is considered high in calcium. Both the sardine and salmon are small fish that have low levels of mercury and are good for the heart, brain, and skin. In fact, other seafood, such as clams and lobsters are also high in calcium content.
This super vegetable is a favorite amongst the new age health freaks. Adored and deeply respected by fitness gurus, broccoli has the essential traits of healthy nourishment. It may not be always liked by hardcore food lovers, yet it has held its own in recent times, with some studies even advocating broccoli for subsiding genetic cancer genes. High in calcium as well as other nutrients such as Vitamin A, C, and K, broccoli is a must add ingredient to your daily diet for its multiple advantages.
#5. Sweet Potatoes
The humble sweet potato has been around for quite some time, though its nutrients have never received much limelight. High in calcium as well as Vitamin A, C and potassium the sweet potato is easily available during the winter season. Bake it or fry it or sauté it, sweet potatoes are always a delicious side dish with most main courses.
Both fresh and dried figs are rich in calcium content. And of course, both are irresistible and mouthwatering. A 100gm of figs can contain about 25mg or more of calcium. The fruit is also rich in fiber and many other minerals such as Vitamin A, E, K, potassium and natural sugars.
#7. Sesame Seeds
Who would have thought that these tiny seeds are actually a wonderfully good source of calcium? In every 100gm of sesame is a whopping estimated 975mg of calcium. Sesame seeds are often used to sprinkle our food, are added while cooking gravies and are also a huge part in sweet dishes. This makes it easier to add sesame seeds to your diet and ensure a good intake of calcium.
Olive is a common add-on in our salads and burgers. But not many know that olives contain a good amount of calcium. Known for providing good fat to our body, olives can be a delicious and healthy addition to your diet.
Yes! Bhindi is also a great source of calcium, along with providing fiber, folic acid, and various vitamins. There are many okra recipes, tried, tested and enjoyed over years. Next time you look at okra with disdain, remember that it contains almost 80% calcium in its total nutrient content.
The sweet and sour lip smacking tamarind is synonymous with almost all ‘chaat’ items. Who can resist a generous spoonful of the tamarind paste on the bhel puri or the mitha pani in our pani puris? Well, tamarind is rich in calcium and potassium and is extremely easily available in our markets.
Dates have many health benefits, one being their calcium content. Along with other dry fruits such as dried apricots, figs, raisins and almonds, dates form a formidable calcium intake.
#12. Soya Beans
Soya beans is a popular legume that is often used to make gravies and eaten with rice and chapattis. Soya bean uses include the creation of soya milk and tofu.
#13. Soya milk
Soya milk is an ideal alternative to milk. Containing large amounts of calcium, it is also rich in protein, magnesium, and selenium.
Also known as bean curd, tofu is prepared from soya milk. Low on calories and high on protein different types of tofu contain high amounts of calcium and magnesium. Make sure to look over the packing to check out its calcium content.
#15. Green Beans
Pretty much a part of our noodles, fried rice and soups, green beans are rich in calcium content. It is also high on fiber and considered a good addition in your diet if you are looking to lose weight.
#16. White beans/ Black eyed beans
Beans generally are rich in calcium. The white and black-eyed beans are legumes that can be added in your diet in the form of gravies or salads. Black-eyed beans are also known to reduce the chances of osteoporosis and heart diseases.
Popeye’s favorite food, spinach could be your favorite too if you knew that 100g of spinach contain 99mg of calcium. In fact, many green leafy vegetables, such as kale, amaranth, and watercress are high on calcium content.
This succulent fruit not only looks heavenly but is also rich in calcium, Vitamin C and potassium.
Who can argue when it comes to eggs! Definitely one of the healthiest food, eggs is fraught with various benefits and nutrients, including a high amount of calcium. Boil them or enjoy an omelet, breakfasts cannot really be complete without eggs.
Last but not the least, berries can be the colorful and bright additions in your calcium-rich diet. Blackberry, raspberry, and strawberries contain high amounts of calcium and are usual favorites of children too.
Just as there are foods that are good for calcium intake, there are also those that should be avoided if you are suffering from osteoporosis or calcium deficiency.
(Check out How these above Non-Dairy Food Items might help you boost your Calcium levels for a healthier breastfeeding!)
Foods to Avoid in Osteoporosis
Salt may seem rather inconsequential but is a very important part of our meals and diet. An increased salt-induced diet is detrimental for bone strength and should be vigorously avoided in case of osteoporosis. If you have a salty tooth then try to increase the intake of potassium foods, such as, tomatoes and oranges, which help to reduce the loss of calcium.
#2. Carbonated drinks
Almost all soft drinks do not contain calcium and are high on phosphoric acid. Phosphorous increases calcium loss and thus carbonated drinks are best to be avoided in case of calcium deficiency. Instead, opt for citrus fruit juices to quench your thirst on hot summer days.
Who doesn’t crave for a hot cup of dark coffee? Just be aware that drinking too much caffeine leads to calcium loss. Black coffee is more of a threat since it is devoid of milk, a calcium supplement. For women who already have less calcium, a high consumption of caffeine is not recommended.
(Did you know the Green Tea leads to bone deterioration by flushing out Calcium from your body?)
#4. Fast foods
It is a well-known fact that fast foods are best not to be eaten on a regular basis for multiple reasons. They usually contain unhealthy fats that are bad for the overall health of the body, including osteoporosis.
#5. High protein intake
Though eating meat moderately works, too much consumption of protein foods like red meat is not recommended for those who have osteoporosis.
There are many foods rich in calcium but some of them should be eaten in moderation. Too much of beans or spinach can quite literally turn the tables around. Thus the key here is to ensure consistent and moderate intake of the different calcium-rich foods. Couple this with regular exercises, which help to keep your bones and muscles flexible and durable. Yes, dairy products contain large amounts of calcium; however, there are also many non-dairy foods that can be seamlessly and tastily added to the dietary plan. A harmonious balance between nutritious food, regular physical activity and fitness, and emotional and mental wellbeing is the key for a happy and healthy life.
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