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Health Monster

Health Benefits of Calcium Besides Building Strong Bones

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You’ve probably heard that calcium is important for strong bones, and you’d be right in the fact that this mineral is crucial to maintaining healthy bones. There are many bone-strengthening foods that are rich in calcium, even those that don’t include milk and dairy. Many plant-based options can give you all the calcium you need, and your body may possibly absorb more from plant-based sources than dairy, since some of the acidic properties of dairy may cause an issue with absorption in the body.

Inflammation weakens the entire body, so eating an anti-inflammatory diet is a great place to start to build a healthy foundation. This will also ensure you’re taking care of your body for the long-term, but you shouldn’t avoid other benefits of calcium in case bone health doesn’t concern you at this point. For instance, many young women who aren’t at the age for menopause, or men who may feel their bones are strong enough, may not give much thought to their bone healthy either. However, calcium loss can affect many aspects of your health, and you could be suffering health problems if you’re not getting enough. 

Here are some of the biggest things calcium can do for your health, along with some healthy anti-inflammatory sources to help you get enough calcium into your diet.

Healthy Blood Pressure

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Jennifer/Flickr
 

Calcium is incredibly important for healthy blood pressure, along with minerals such as magnesium and potassium. You know that feeling of anxiety that almost feels like you have something in your throat and you become out of breath quickly for no reason? It can be caused by raised blood pressure from an insufficient mineral intake, specifically from calcium and magnesium. Both support the nervous system function, along with your blood pressure. They help slow down your blood pressure and can help steady your nerves as a result. This is one reason dairy is recommended for people with high blood pressure, as it contains calcium, magnesium, and potassium (three blood pressure superstar nutrients). But dairy can cause some health problems along the way, making it not such a healthy choice.

The plant-based options that’s much better for your overall health includes: dried figs, almonds, broccoli, kale and other leafy greens, oranges, fortified non-dairy milk, the superfood baobab, teff, tahini, and natural soy foods. Foods that also help lower your blood pressure that are rich in potassium and magnesium, (though aren’t a source of as much calcium), include: bananas, dates, cacao, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax and chia, cashews, walnuts, wild rice, oats, and coconut.

 

Strong Hair and Nails

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To keep your hair and nails to stay healthy, calcium intake is important. Think of calcium as a structural mineral. For all parts of your body that need support, calcium plays a part. Calcium levels can easily be depleted in the body for multiple reasons, some of which are related to age and hormones, while others may be related to stress or improper nutrients, or even an imbalance in nutrient intake. This makes it important to include a variety of plant-based options into your diet. No one certain amount may work for everyone, so taking in some calcium through your foods at each meal is a smart choice. Calcium is not the only important nutrient needed for healthy skin, hair, and nails, but because of the way this mineral supports stress levels, it can help prevent hair loss and weak nails that can be depleted due to mineral loss associated with stress hormones. 

Some good foods for your hair, nails (and even skin) include: broccoli, almonds, figs, hazelnuts, cashews, chia, flax, winter squash, peanuts, brown rice, raisins, hemp, beans, legumes, oats, whole wheat, barley, rye, quinoa, millet, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, kale, collards, and superfoods like cacao and spirulina.

 

Your Weight

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You might have heard that three servings of calcium-rich dairy can help you lose weight. Sound familiar? Well the only scientific truth to this is the calcium involved, not the dairy in which it comes from. Calcium is incredibly important for a healthy weight, mostly because of the way it affects your blood pressure, lowers your stress hormones (namely cortisol), reduces stress, and can help keep your bones strong, which preserves your muscle mass burning more calories at rest. Calcium is associated with a smaller waistline specifically because of the way the stress hormone cortisol causes weight gain in the abdominal area. Sufficient calcium intake from plant-based options will help you keep your weight in check, and most of these are fantastic sources of fiber that also help assist with weight, not to mention they’re free of cholesterol and saturated fats too. Of course, remember when it comes to your weight, an overall clean diet is important for the best results and is the healthiest way to take care of your body for the long-haul.

Here are some healthy choices that will keep your weight in check: fortified non-dairy almond milk (unsweetened),  chia seeds, kale, dried figs, raw almonds, collards, oranges, and broccoli. Healthy whole grains that assist with keeping your weight in check that have calcium include teff and amaranth.

 

Healthy Sleep Cycle

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Calcium and magnesium can both help you drift off into dreamland quickly. This is one reason the old saying goes that if you can’t sleep, “just have a glass of milk,” and you’ll be sound asleep quickly. Though milk contains calcium, it also contains casein and lactose, no thanks! Casein has been linked to cancer and lactose causes digestive problems.

So let’s opt for some plant-based options instead that also aid in sleep such as: leafy greens, broccoli, almond milk, soy milk, almond or soy yogurt, chia seeds, tahini or sesame seeds, and magnesium rich-foods like bananas, almond butter, leafy greens, beans, seeds, oats, quinoa, sweet potatoes, winter squash, pumpkin  black or wild rice, brown rice, and legumes.

For healthy bones (and a healthy body overall), be sure you get enough calcium, magnesium, Vitamin D, Vitamin K, and other minerals such as boron and iron. Eating a wide variety of plant-based foods can help get you there, while a whole foods-based, vegan vitamin may also offer additional support.

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Eat your way to healthy bones, hair, skin, blood pressure, hormones, and a healthy weight with plant-based foods. They’ve got our backs, every single time.

Lead Image Source: hotforfoodblog/Flickr

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