Calcium is one of the most essential minerals that we need for general health, strong bones and healthy teeth. In addition, we also need a matrix of other minerals such as vitamin D (from the sun), magnesium, phosphorous and vitamin K (green leafy vegetables).
While diet is important, we also can’t forget the importance of weight bearing exercises such as walking or weights/resistance exercise, for strong, dense bones.
In the Wholesomeness kitchen we love being able to create nutritious food for people who may have certain dietary needs or preferences, and this is the reason why many of our healthy prepared meals are 100% dairy free.
We know that calcium is important and so that’s why we use a range of other nutritious (dairy free) sources of calcium in our cooking.
That’s why, in this article we wanted to shed light on some other foods that have a decent whack of the bone-building mineral too. Some of these we absolutely love to use in our dishes, so you may have seen them already in a few of your Wholesomeness meals!
Tofu, or soy bean curd is traditionally associated with Asian cuisine but has become more popular here as a meat substitute for vegetarian cooking.
We love to use tofu in our vegan cooking, like in our Tofu & Pineapple Massaman Curry and our Butter Tofu with Brown Rice & Peas.
A nice 100g of firm tofu contains about 200mg of calcium (nearly as much as a glass of milk). However, the calcium can vary greatly depending on firmness and brand so it’s important to check the label to make sure it contains calcium sulphate, which is used as a setting agent. If it does not, the calcium content will be much lower (about half).
A great calcium-containing low-oxalate vegetable that is perfect for Asian stir-fries. However, you need to eat much more of it to get adequate calcium (about 3.5 cups to be compared to a glass of milk), so it’s best to think of bok choy as more of a calcium top-up, or a calcium ‘side.’
FORTIFIED PLANT MILKS
Fortified plant milks such as soy, oat and almond milks usually contain the same, if not more, calcium content than regular cow’s milk. For tips on reading the nutrition label, about 120mg of calcium per 100g is around the equivalent to cow’s milk.
A large handful of almonds (about 50g) comes close to 80mg of calcium, not to mention the protein, vitamin E, phosphorous and healthy fat benefits they deliver, making them a great afternoon snack and calcium pick-me-up.
SALMON & SARDINES
When eaten with their soft, edible bones salmon and sardines are a great source of calcium, plus vitamin D, protein and omega 3 fats for a healthy brain and healthy joints. Have you tried our salmon fish cakes?
Tahini is basically ground and blended sesame seeds (like a sesame seed version of peanut butter). Tahini is so versatile, you can blend it with sauces, use it in a dressing with lemon and garlic, or simply eat it on toast!
If you’re craving something sweet and need a calcium hit at the same time, snack on some dried figs. Half a cup of dried figs contains around 120mg of calcium.
Tempeh is similar to tofu, but is made from fermented soy beans and therefore has a much stronger taste. 100mg of tempeh contains around 110mg of calcium. Tempeh can be used in much of the same dishes that tofu can, and is a great ingredient to have as part of your vegetarian cooking staples.
Edamame are young soybeans that are harvested before they have ripened or hardened. They are super nutrient rich and are served a lot in Japanese cooking, simply boiled or steamed with a sprinkling of salt on top. One cup of edamame contains about 100mg of calcium.
Broccoli, one of our favourite cruciferous vegetables! Broccoli is so yummy and packed full of not only calcium, but heaps of other good-for-you nutrients. 100g of broccoli gives you about 50mg of calcium, so it’s an excellent calcium top-up to go with the other calcium rich foods you eat that day.
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B.Sc Nutrition with Psychology (Dual Degree)
Consulting Clinical Nutritionist to The Banyans Wellness Retreat
Owner and Managing Director of Wholesomeness and Wholesomeness-on-Roma