Calcium intake is one of the top concerns for anyone who decides to go plant-based, and rightfully so considering it’s an important mineral needed for bone, dental, and nervous system health. Calcium is also necessary to maintain good hair, skin and nails. It even helps ease nervous tension so you can relax and get a good night’s rest.
Milk Doesn’t Have Anything on These Plant-Based Foods
Contrary to belief, cow’s milk is not the best source of calcium. Most people already know that by now, but searching for other sources may pose a challenge, especially to those unsure of what foods contain calcium. Some of the best sources of calcium include: leafy greens, vegetables like broccoli and boy choy, almonds, and of course, fortified non-dairy milk. Other good sources include white (cannellini) beans, dried figs, and black eyed peas. To find more recipes using these ingredients, we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App, a Food app available for both Android and iPhone where you can search over 8,000 recipes (with 12 recipes added daily) ingredient. But beyond these foods lies another group just bursting with calcium in every single bite: seeds.
Seeds Are Packed With Calcium
Common seeds you already know of are magnificent sources of calcium, along with a couple that may be new to you. They’re also a great source of iron and magnesium, two other important minerals for overall good health. Add these seeds to your meals and sprinkle them here and there when you can. Their healthy fats will not only provide your body with omega 3 fats and heart health benefits, but also stabilize your nervous system even further, in conjunction with the calcium they contain.
Sesame seeds are one of the best sources of non-dairy calcium plant-based eaters can choose. Whether you choose whole sesame seeds or sesame seed butter (known as tahini), both are great options. Sesame seeds contain 88 milligrams of calcium in just one tablespoon! While you probably don’t want to eat too much of them everyday, they can be added to some of the foods above such as leafy greens or bok choy, to give you a variety of sources of this important mineral. Comparatively, you’d have to eat a whole cup of quinoa to get even close to the same amount as just a tablespoon of sesame seeds or tahini. Tahini can be used in salad dressings and sauces since it has a mild, nutty, and super creamy flavor. Or you can sprinkle some raw sesame seeds wherever you fancy. To get a double dose, have this Super Healthy Kale Salad With Creamy Ginger Tahini Dressing or these Sesame Encrusted Falafel.
Amaranth is a true superfood when it comes to calcium, iron, magnesium, and protein. It’s one of the tiniest seeds that exists and packs an abundance of calcium in just a few bites. One cup of cooked amaranth contains 307 milligrams of calcium. This is close to what you’d get in a cup of cow’s milk, but without all the negative side effects of dairy. Amaranth was a staple seed used in the diet of the Aztecs for its prized nutritional properties. You can cook the seed just like you would a grain, such as in porridge or as a pilaf at dinner. You can also bake with amaranth flour, and it’s one of the best flours that offer a source of plant-based protein. Or, try this Vegetable and Amaranth Coconut Pilaf!
Though lower than amaranth, teff is a superfood that’s busting with calcium, protein, iron, B vitamins, and magnesium. It’s the perfect seed to consume when you’re looking for something new or perhaps if you don’t like quinoa (which is okay!) Teff contains 123 milligrams of calcium per cooked cup. It’s the richest seed-like grain in terms of protein content with 7 grams in just 1/4 cup cooked teff. Teff is another top grain-free, high protein flour to choose in your plant-based baking.
We can’t leave chia out of the mix when showcasing plant-based sources of calcium. Chia seeds are a prized source of calcium that are sure to improve the look of your hair, skin, nails, teeth, and benefit your nervous system function. Chia seeds contain 177 milligrams of calcium in just 1 ounce, which is far more than any of the above sources in terms of calcium per ounce. Consuming three tablespoons a day would lend you more calcium than one glass of cow’s milk. Since chia is low in harmful fats, rich in omega 3 fats, iron, potassium, and magnesium, there’s just no reason to leave this stellar food out of your diet. We love chia seeds in oatmeal, smoothies, raw desserts, and as a substitute for eggs in baked goods. Try this recipe for Raspberry Macadamia Coconut Chia Pudding or check out more recipes with chia to get a little more delicious calcium into your diet!
How to Make These Foods Work For You
If you ate three servings of leafy greens, one serving of two of these foods daily, and one serving of non-dairy milk (which usually has 50 percent more calcium than dairy milk), you’d get right at 100 percent of your daily needs of calcium, sans milk required! Add some oatmeal to your day, which contains 109 milligrams in just a half cup, and call yourself a calcium expert! If you don’t like some of these seeds or want a variety of sources, just add some other calcium-packed plant-based foods to your diet instead. With all this variety, there’s no way you’ll come up short in this critical nutrient!
Calcium Rich Meal Ideas:
- 1/2 cup cooked cup oatmeal with 1 tablespoon each of: tahini, chia seeds, sliced almonds, and 3 chopped, dried figs cooked in non-dairy milk or your choice
- 1/4 cup of teff cooked with kale, broccoli (another great source), white beans, and seasonings of choice
- 1/4 cup amaranth cooked as a porridge, topped with some berries, chia seeds, sliced or whole raw almonds, sunflower seeds (another good source), cooked in non-dairy milk
- 1/4 cup chia seeds made into a porridge with non-dairy milk, some oats, shredded coconut, cinnamon, cranberries, and almond butter as a topping
- 1/4 cup cooked amaranth with collards, garlic, onion, sunflower seeds, and a tablespoon tahini and maple syrup for some sweetness
- 1/2 cup cooked quinoa in non-dairy milk topped with 3-4 dried figs, almond butter, sesame seeds, and cinnamon
See how delicious and easy that was? Skip the dairy, save some cows, and chow down on these better sources of one of nature’s most prized minerals!
If you enjoy articles like this and want more, we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App. For those that don’t have it, it’s a brilliant Food app available for both Android and iPhone. It’s a great resource for anyone looking to cut out or reduce allergens like meat, dairy, soy, gluten, eggs, grains, and more find awesome recipes, cooking tips, articles, product recommendations and how-tos. The app shows you how having diet/health/food preferences can be full of delicious abundance rather than restrictions.
The Food Monster app has over 8000+ recipes and 500 are free. To access the rest, you have to pay a subscription fee but it’s totally worth it because not only do you get instant access to 8000+ recipes, you get 10 NEW recipes every day! You can also make meal plans, add bookmarks, read feature stories, and browse recipes across hundreds of categories like diet, cuisine, meal type, occasion, ingredient, popular, seasonal, and so much more!
Image Source: Raw Hemp Chia Seed Bars
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