Rory Mycek is a guest contributor from www.TopDentists.com, the dental resource site of Everyday Health.
Many of us aren’t getting the recommended amount of calcium in our diets (The Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health recommends 1,000 to 1,300 mg per day). What we may not notice is that there are SO many different ways to sneak even just a little bit of calcium into each of our meals and snacks. Especially those who are vegans, it’s very important to make sure you reach the recommended amount of calcium per day and part of that is being aware of what foods have calcium in them.
Why Do We Need Calcium?
Calcium helps adults maintain strong bones and teeth and it helps build a child’s bone strength. It’s necessary to maintain hardness. Your muscles require calcium to move, for your nerves to carry messages throughout your body, and to help blood vessels transport blood around your body.
Foods That Contain Calcium
• Milk, cheese and yogurt
• Almonds, sunflower seeds
• Broccoli, kale, turnip greens, arugula, spinach and collard greens
• Sardines, anchovies and salmon
• Soy beans, fortified soy milk and tofu
• Sesame seeds
• Beans (white beans, chickpeas)
• Figs and apricots
• Whole grains
How to Use These Foods to Incorporate More Calcium Into Your Diet
You can make incorporating more calcium into your diet super easy and efficient by sticking with the foods that you normally eat instead of making a complete change. This way you are eating things that you know you already enjoy, and you’re not compromising the flavor of foods.
First you need to realize that you don’t have to drink milk and consume dairy to get calcium. This was one personal misconception I had when I chose to adopt a vegan lifestyle. There are plenty of ways to get calcium if you’re in a vegan diet! For instance some ways I choose to incorporate it into my diet are adding spinach and kale into my tomato sauce and using whole grain pasta. For smoothies it’s great to use almond milk and add in some oatmeal for thickness along with any fruits you wish along with some spinach or kale (it won’t do much to the taste I promise). Chickpeas, soy beans, broccoli and sunflower seeds are great additions to salads, and you can even use arugula, kale and spinach in place of lettuce for a healthier and calcium-rich substitute to lettuce.
If you’re just trying to be healthier and skimping on dairy in your diets, a great substitute for creams in creamy sauces and also for sour cream is Greek yogurt. Choose plain Greek yogurt to use in your vodka sauce, creamy tomato sauces and even use it as a topping on your taco! For baking try using steel cut oatmeal in place of flour and even try mixing it into your pancake batter. And while you’re on a health kick ditching the flour in your baked goods, swap out your regular bread and rice for whole wheat or whole grain products.
For your picky children, this can be a bit more difficult. Try introducing them to smoothies where you can easily add in some extra calcium like I had mentioned above. If you aren’t getting past them with a smoothie, try sneaking some spinach and broccoli into their coveted macaroni and cheese, pizza, and pasta sauce. Try out cottage cheese with jelly instead of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every once in a while too. You may end up being pleasantly surprised at how much extra calcium you can sneak passed them!