Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, making up one to two percent of a healthy adult’s body weight. 99 percent of the calcium in our body is stored in teeth and bones, and the body maintains a consistent concentration of calcium. If you are not consuming sufficient calcium through diet, your body will extract the calcium it needs from bone tissue, thereby accelerating bone loss. No one wants that!
Calcium requirements are dependent upon age. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for adults age 19-50 is 1000 mg. That number increases to 1200 mg for women beginning at age 51 and for men beginning at age 71. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need dairy milk to obtain calcium. Check out these dairy-free foods that are packed with calcium.
1. Chia Seeds
Two tablespoons of chia seeds contain 177 mg of calcium. Chia seeds are also the richest plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids, ounce for ounce containing more than salmon. They also contain magnesium and boron, trace minerals that aid in the body’s absorption of calcium. They’re easy to use for breakfast, dessert or a quick snack. For a calcium-rich breakfast, try this Sunrise Nourish Bowl, Breakfast Parfait With Oats and Blueberry Pudding, or this Raspberry Macadamia Coconut Chia Pudding. For something you can take on the go, try these Superpower Protein Balls or these Vanilla Chia Protein Bars.
Greens, particularly cooked collard greens, turnip greens, and kale are a great source of calcium. A one-cup serving of cooked kale provides almost 10 percent of the RDA of calcium. It’s so easy to add greens to our diet. For breakfast try this Chickpea Flour Omelet With Spinach and Kale, or this Green Superfood Detox Smoothie. For lunch, go for this Sweet Potato Soup With Kale and Crunchy Pine Nuts or this Kale Salad With Lentil Meatballs. You can’t get much better than this Tuscan Kale and Mushroom Stuffed Spaghetti Squash Bake or this Comforting Kale Pesto Pasta.
3. Hemp Milk
Hemp milk is a great alternative to dairy milk, particularly for those who may also be allergic to nuts or soy. A one cup serving of fortified hemp milk provides 428 mg of calcium, the same as dairy milk. It contains all 10 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source. Hemp milk also contains Omega-3’s, iron, and potassium, as well as Vitamins A, D, E, and B-12. It is eco-friendly because it requires little water and no pesticides to grow. Hemp milk’s nutty flavor is great when enjoyed on its own, in smoothies or added to your morning coffee. Or, try your hand at making this Cinnamon and Clove Mixed Nut and Seed Milk, packed with hemp seeds, walnuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds.
4. Blackstrap Molasses
Blackstrap molasses is a highly nutritious sweetener that is created as a byproduct of refining raw sugar cane into fine table sugar. It is also a great source of copper, manganese, potassium, and magnesium. Magnesium is particularly important, as it balances calcium and helps to regulate nerves and muscles. Enjoy blackstrap molasses in desserts like this Pumpkin Molasses Freezer Tart, this Hazelnut Cacao Torte, or this Pomegranate Molasses Upside Down Cake or try it this savory Blackstrap Tofu.
5. Sesame Seeds/Tahini
A quarter-cup of sesame seeds contains 351 mg, or 35.1 percent of the RDA of calcium. They are also a fantastic source of manganese and copper, as well as several other vitamins and minerals. Sprinkle the seeds on top of salads, add them to baked goods or use in stir fries. Sesame seed paste, or tahini, can be used in hummus,, salad dressings and this Cheesy Uncheese Sauce. Learn to make Homemade Tahini and then use it to make this Mesabacha Hummus, and the dressings in this Tahini Kale Protein Bowl, these Roasted Spiced Carrots, and this Cauliflower and Lentils With Dill Tahini. Tahini can be used in dessert, too! Try this soft Tahini Coconut Fudge and these Tahini Dark Chocolate Chunk Blondies With Caramelized Ginger and Figs. You get an even bigger dose of calcium from the blondies because figs are another source of plant-based calcium!
6. Almond Butter
Almond butter is great on just about anything. It makes oatmeal more filling, it is a healthy snack when you spread it over banana slices or celery stalks, and you can use it in desserts and savory sauces. You can even make Almond Butter Caramel! Just two tablespoons of almond butter contains 111 mg of calcium. It is also a great source of magnesium, copper, zinc, and iron. If you have a high-speed blender or food processor at home, it is easy to learn How To Make Homemade Almond Butter. This Dreamy Almond Butter and Banana Chia Pudding or these Apple Almond Butter Pancakes are both fantastic choices for breakfast. The tofu in these Crispy Almond Butter Tofu Lettuce Boats is cooked in a creamy, umami sauce made from soy sauce and almond butter and it makes a great light lunch or dinner. Try these Raw Almond Butter and Jelly Sandwiches for a snack that is naturally sweet without the use of refined sugar. Finally, for dessert, these Coconut Flour Almond Butter Truffles, these Superfood Almond Butter Cups, or this Crunchy Almond Butter Soft Serve Ice Cream.
Soybeans, white beans, navy beans, and pinto beans, in particular, are all good sources of calcium. White beans, which have 191 mg of calcium per cup, lend themselves really well to soups and veggie burgers. Try this Escarole and White Bean Soup and this White Bean and Sweet Potato Burgers. You can even make them into a spread for appetizers, like this White Bean Spread or mash them and use them as a substitute for seafood, like these “Tuna” Stuffed Avocados. Navy beans derive their name from the fact that they were a staple of the U.S. Navy in the early 20th century. They are perfect for making these Canadian Maple Baked Beans. Also, try these Petite Navy Beans With Rosemary and Diced Tomato and this Smashed White Bean, Avocado, and Basil Sandwich.
8. Vegetables – Fennel, Broccoli, Artichoke
You may be surprised to find out that fennel, broccoli, and artichokes made the list of foods packed with calcium. One tablespoon of fennel seed contains 59 mg of calcium. Fennel is a fantastic way to liven up a boring salad. Try this Arugula Fennel Salad With Creamy Lemon Dressing, or for a unique and super easy snack, try these Grapefruit Coriander Fennel Bites. One broccoli stalk, raw, contains 71 mg of calcium. For dinner, try Sesame Tofu and Broccoli Salad, Raw Cream of Broccoli Soup, or these Baked Broccoli Burgers. Last is my personal favorite, artichokes. One cooked artichoke contains 54 mg of calcium. Get creative! Try this Artichoke “Lobster” Roll, these Walnut-Crusted Artichoke Hearts, or this Artichoke and Spinach Pesto Pizza.
9. Fruit — Blackberries, Blackcurrants, Oranges, and Figs
Blackcurrants are hard to find in the U.S., but are worth mentioning as 1 cup of the fruit contains 62 mg of calcium. They are also an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and iron. Figs contain the highest amount of calcium per cup at 120 mg per half cup. California figs are in season June through September. Nothing can beat the taste of fresh figs, but dried figs are also nutritious. Try these Creamy Fig Cheesecake Bites or these Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Fig and Oat Bars, or this Green Energy Smoothie Bowl With Fresh Figs. Oranges are next in line with 50-60 mg of calcium per orange. They are also great sources of vitamin C and potassium. Try these Raw Spiced Chocolate Layered With Kiwi, Figs and Orange and this Tropical Turmeric Smoothie,. Last but not least are blackberries – one cup of them contains 40 mg of calcium. The possibilities are endless with blackberries! Try this Fruity Frozen Yogurt Marble Cake, this Low-Sugar Blackberry Ice Cream, and this Raw Blackberry Chocolate Breakfast Cake.
Amaranth, like quinoa, is actually a seed rather than a grain, though they are cooked like them. It is rich in calcium, iron and magnesium. Amaranth contains nearly four times as much calcium as wheat, at 116 mg per cooked cup. It’s a great option for people who are gluten-free. Try these Protein Balls, this Popped Amaranth Cereal, or these Banana Gluten-Free Scones made with amaranth flour for breakfast. For dinner and lunch, try these Red Lentil and Amaranth Protein Patties With Spicy Avocado Mayo.
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