Milk equals strong bones, or at least that’s the false myth that I grew up believing. Now that I know that dairy is actually a hindrance to maintaining healthy bones and overall health, I’m turning to plants to get my calcium intake. The good news is by changing my diet to a 100 percent plant-based diet, I haven’t become weak and fragile without a glass of cow’s milk or cup of Greek yogurt a day. This is a huge surprise to people that know me, considering I live in the Bible Belt of the Southeast.
Calcium is a nutrient derived from the soil and is an important nutrient you need to maintain a healthy nervous system, healthy blood pressure levels, strong bones and teeth, and to prevent osteoporosis. I figure, why not just get it straight from the source (plants) instead of making the poor cow suffer in the meantime (and paying for it with my own dollars)?
Calcium is found abundantly in so many plant-based foods, many of which might surprise you. You don’t need to worry about getting enough on a plant-based diet since most all plant food sources of calcium are easy to absorb. They contain other nutrients that provide your body with bone and heart support, and best of all, they aren’t acidic like dairy. Highly acidic dairy foods and other animal foods actually break down your bones and contribute to a large number of health problems.
Eat more of these plant-based sources of calcium and ditch the dairy for good!
By far one of the best sources of calcium is collard greens, which contain 268 milligrams in one cup of cooked greens. Collards are also fairly low in oxylates, which bind to calcium in the body and can lead to poor absorption. It’s a great alternative to spinach for this reason, which is high in oxylates (though also high in calcium.)
About eight to ten dried figs contain as much calcium as one glass of milk. Not too shabby for such a delicious little dried fruit, eh? Figs are also a great source of fiber, iron, and potassium. We love using them in kale salad, energy bars, smoothies, and porridge.
Almonds are another top source of calcium, along with magnesium and fiber. They even contain protein and heart-healthy fats to boot. You can make your own almond milk or almond butter if you don’t enjoy them raw.
Fortified Plant-Based Milks
Plant-based milks like soy, almond, and even coconut, hemp, cashew, and flax milk are all great sources of calcium.They’re fortified with soil-based calcium (not chemical alternatives) and can help up your intake in a delicious way. Most plant-based milks contain over 30 percent of your daily calcium, while some have almost 50 percent more than dairy milk. I find it’s easy to get enough of these delicious milks by using them in smoothies and oatmeal. Rotate them weekly so you get a variety of nutrients.
Many people are surprised to learn that broccoli is a fantastic source of calcium, containing 180 milligrams in just one cup of cooked broccoli and 115 mg in one raw stalk. Eating a cup a day can easily help you increase your calcium intake to ensure you get enough. Not a fan of steamed broccoli? Sneak a couple florets into your next smoothie recipe or even your next batch of veggie burgers. Also, try this Broccoli ‘Cheese’ Pasta Bake.
Butternut squash is a true superfood in every way. It’s packed with fiber, Vitamin A, and contains 84 milligrams of calcium, which is almost 10 percent of your daily needs. Try these Butternut Squash Muffins.
One cup of kale contains 94 milligrams of plant-based calcium, along with magnesium, fiber, chlorophyll, vitamin A, iron, and vitamin C. Not that we need another reason to eat kale, but it never hurts to have yet another to adore this leafy green, right? Try these kale recipes.
This comes as no surprise: chia seeds contain yet another nutrient that makes them a true superfood. Chia seeds are loaded with calcium and yield many benefits as a result. I’ve specifically noticed how much stronger my nails, hair, and my muscles are since adding chia to my diet. Chia contains roughly 177 milligrams per ounce (about two tablespoons), which is 18 percent of your daily needs. That’s incredible for such a tiny seed! Adding a tablespoon twice a day to your smoothies, oatmeal, salads, baked goods, and entrees is a great way to ensure that you get enough.
Other great sources of calcium include: oatmeal with 105 milligrams, and soy beans with 261 milligrams. You’ll need 1000 milligrams of calcium to reach your daily quota without a supplement, so eat as many plant-based sources of calcium to get this important nutrient into your diet without an ounce of dairy needed.
Image Source: Raw Massaged Kale Salad with Fresh Figs and Oranges