Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, making up 1-2% of a healthy adult’s body weight. Ninety-nine percent of that calcium is stored in teeth and bones. 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. 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.
1. Chia Seeds
Just 2 ounces of chia seeds contain 358 mg of calcium, more calcium by weight than whole milk. 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. Try Breakfast Parfait with Oats and Blueberry Pudding, Chia Caramel Pecan Pie or Seeds and Goji Berry Granola.
Greens, particularly cooked collard greens, turnip greens and kale are a great source of calcium. They contain 268 mg, 76mg and 94mg per cup, respectively. For a healthy summer treat, try Green Juice Sorbet with kale.
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 provides 30% of your Recommended Daily Value (RDA), 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.
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. A 2 tsp. serving contains nearly 12% of the RDA of calcium. 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 Hazelnut Cacao Torte or Spicy Gingerbread Cake.
5. Sesame Seeds/Tahini
A quarter-cup of sesame seeds contains 351 mg, or 35.1% 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, dips, salad dressings and Cheesy Uncheese Sauce.
6. Almond Butter
Two Tbsp. of almond butter contains 111 mg of calcium. It’s also a great source of magnesium, copper, zinc and iron. Try Raw Apple Sandwiches with Date Caramel Almond Butter or Raw Almond Chunky Monkey Ice Cream.
Soybeans, white beans, navy beans and pinto beans, in particular, are stellar sources of calcium. They contain 261, 161, 126 and 79 mg of calcium, respectively. White beans lend themselves really well to soups and veggie burgers. Try Escarole and White Bean Soup and White Bean and Sweet Potato Burgers. Navy beans derive their name from the that fact they were a staple of the U.S. Navy in the early 20th century. They are perfect for making baked beans. Also try Petite Navy Beans with Rosemary and Diced Tomato.
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 fennel bulb contains 115 mg of calcium. Fennel is a fantastic way to liven up a boring salad. Try Arugula Fennel Salad with Creamy Lemon Dressing, or for a unique and super easy snack, try 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 Baked Broccoli Burgers. Last is my personal favorite, artichokes. One medium artichoke has 25 mg of calcium. Get creative! Try an Artichoke and Olive Pizza, Walnut-Crusted Artichoke Hearts, or Artichoke Paella.
9. Fruit – Blackberries, Blackcurrants, Oranges, 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 Gluten-free Vegan Fig Newton Clones or Fig Cardamon Walnut Scones with Cashew Cream. Oranges are next in line with 50 – 60 mg of calcium per orange. They are also great sources of vitamin C and potassium. Try Raw Spiced Chocolate Layered with Kiwi, Figs and Orange. Last but not least are blackberries. One cup of berries contains 40 mg of calcium. The possibilities are endless with blackberries! For a cold treat on a hot summer day, try Fruity Frozen Yogurt Marble 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 4 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 or Banana Gluten-Free Scones made with amaranth flour.
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