I’m often asked the question “where do you get calcium from if you’re not eating dairy?” as most people associate calcium with the “traditional” cheese and milk products. I’ve therefore decided to compile a list of non dairy food sources to show where else you can find calcium.
Let’s also ask ourselves…where do cows get their calcium from? And elephants and moose? Calcium is not something our body can make, we obtain it from food. That’s right – cows get their calcium from plants. You can see where this is heading right?
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and it builds healthy bones and teeth and ensures your muscles, cells and nerves work properly. It is said that adults need about 1,000 milligrams a day. So what do you do if you’re lactose intolerant, vegan or avoiding dairy products due to its high acidity as in our alkaline diet?
You may be surprised to find some of these calcium rich foods on the list…
1. COLLARD GREENS – serving Size (1 cup cooked), 268 milligrams of calcium (27% DV)
In addition to serving up more than a quarter of your daily calcium needs, this green is also loaded with nearly three days worth of vitamin A, a nutrient that helps keep your eyes sharp as you age. Though collard greens are traditionally cooked with butter and fattening meats like bacon, they taste great sautéed with olive oil and garlic.
2. ALMONDS – serving Size (1/2 cup), 183 milligrams of calcium (18% DV)
Nuts and seeds aren’t the first thing most people think of when they’re looking to increase their calcium intake but should. A half-cup serving of tasty almonds contains 183 milligrams of calcium or 18% of the recommended value for the day. In addition to helping strengthen your bones, almonds promote weight loss, colon health and heart health. (see page on Nuts we love and why here)
3. SARDINES – serving Size (3 oz. canned in oil), 325 milligrams of calcium (33% DV)
Although fish are moderately acid, we know we can eat it from time to time on the alkaline diet. These little guys are definitely worth mentioning as they are packed with all various types of vitamins and nutrients. Sardines have been demonstrated to prevent certain cancers, reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and promote bone health. They have a high calcium content, so if you’re going to use up your 20-30% acid allowance on fish, this is a great alternative.
4. SOYBEANS – serving Size (1/2 cup), 131 milligrams of calcium (13% DV)
Soybeans often rate at the top of the list when it comes to health foods. They’re a great source of many vitamins and minerals that are essential to good health, including protein, iron, and fibre. They have a high concentration of calcium and isoflavones, which are crucial to bone health and can increase bone density.
5. ROCKET/ARGULA – serving Size (1 cup), 125 milligrams of calcium (13% DV)
When enjoying your next salad, toss in a handful or two of tasty arugula. You know it’s healthy because of its rich, dark green color. Just one cup of arugula packs about 125 milligrams of calcium. Make a large salad with lots of arugula, or add raw spinach into the mix for a super salad that’s jam-packed with nutrients.
6. WHITE BEANS – serving Size (1/2 cup), 100 milligrams of calcium (10% DV)
White beans are known by many for their high fibre, but they bring several other health benefits to the table with folic acid and other essential vitamins. Just a half cup of these subtly flavourful legumes provides about 100 milligrams of calcium, enough to fulfil 10% of your recommended intake for the day. Beans are versatile and delicious, so it’s easy to incorporate them into any meal. (See Rosemary and White Bean Soup recipe here)
7. DRIED FIGS – serving Size (4 dried figs), 110 milligrams of calcium (11% DV)
Bite into a dried fig, and you’ll think you’re indulging in a super-sweet and sticky dessert, when in fact you’re chowing down on a fiber- and potassium-packed fruit. Figs also supply you with magnesium, a nutrient the body uses in more than 300 biomechanical reactions, such as maintaining muscle function, keeping your heart rhythm steady, and strengthening your bones. (See Broccoli and Fig salad recipe here)
8. EDAMAME – serving Size (1 cup), 98 milligrams of calcium (10% DV)
Edamame has been eaten in China and Japan for thousands of years, and it’s no wonder: it’s a nutritional powerhouse. Edamame—which are immature soybeans in the pod—is among the few non-animal foods that is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. You also get 8 grams of fibre per serving.
9. BROCCOLI – serving Size (1 cup raw), 74 milligrams of calcium (7% DV)
For a healthy, balanced diet, you should be eating plenty of cruciferous vegetables. Broccoli, in particular, is great for bone health, as it contains high levels of calcium and vitamin K. These are both essential for bone health, bone strength, and the prevention of osteoporosis. Adding broccoli to your diet can also improve your blood pressure, immune system, and heart health. (See Broccoli and Fig salad recipe here)
10. TOFU – serving Size (1 oz.), 100 milligrams of calcium (10% DV)
When buying tofu, be sure to check the label and make sure you’re picking up a brand that’s made with calcium sulfate. Just a single ounce of fried tofu provides about 100 milligrams of calcium, contributing 10% to the daily recommended amount. Many people need time to get used to the taste, but this super food is worth it. Tofu tends to take on the flavor of whatever you’re cooking it with, so don’t be afraid to experiment with your favorite meals.
11. SESAME SEEDS – serving Size (1 tablespoon), 88 milligrams of calcium (9% DV)
Sesame seeds are known for the delightful taste and subtle texture they bring to many meals. A tablespoon of these tiny seeds can provide you with an impressive 88 milligrams of calcium. Sesame seeds are also a viable source of several other nutrients and minerals including copper, manganese, iron, and fiber (see page on Seeds we love and why here)
12. ORANGES – serving Size (1 whole orange), 74 milligrams of calcium (7% DV) and 27 milligrams in a cup of fresh orange juice
The vitamin C in oranges is good for your immune system but oranges are also an incredible source of bone-strengthening calcium. Fresh-squeezed orange juice is a great way to start your day. One orange accounts for about 6% of the calcium the average person needs for the day. (see Orange and Fennel Salad recipe here)
13. QUINOA – serving Size (1 cup), 80 milligrams of calcium (8% DV)
Quinoa is widely considered to be a grain but it’s actually a type of seed. One cup provides your body with 80 milligrams of essential calcium, or about 8% of what the average person needs per day. In addition to strengthening your bones and preventing osteoporosis, quinoa has been shown to increase stamina, promote healing and reduce the frequency of migraines. (see Sweet potato & Quinoa recipe here)
14. KALE – serving Size (1 cup), 90 milligrams of calcium (9% DV)
We’ve discussed the benefits of kale in the Kale Chips recipe (here). Just a cup of healthy raw kale contains 90 milligrams of calcium, adding up to about 9% of the daily recommended value. Besides chips, it’s best to serve these delicious dark greens fresh by tossing a handful into your salad or add it to soups and sauté vegetables.
15. CHIA SEEDS – serving Size (1 tablespoon), 80 milligrams of calcium (8% DV)
The ancient Chia seed is a super food that’s also on our list of Seeds we love (here). They provide numerous health benefits, including reducing blood pressure, reducing arthritis pain, promoting weight loss, and more. The big surprise might be that Chia seeds are also a great source of calcium. A mere tablespoon provides 8% of the recommended daily value of bone-strengthening calcium. Even the word “Chia” is from the ancient Mayan word for strength. (see Strawberry Chia Seed pot recipe here)
16. RAW SPINACH – serving Size (1 cup), 90 milligrams of calcium (9% DV)
When enjoying a healthy salad or sandwich, opt for dark, leafy greens such as spinach instead of the lighter iceberg lettuce. Raw spinach is high in vitamin A, vitamin K, fiber, potassium and calcium, making it a super food that benefits nearly every aspect of your health.
17. SOY MILK – serving Size (1 cup), 60 milligrams of calcium (6% DV)
Many people switch from regular milk to soy milk because of the incredible health benefits of soy. Soy milk has as much calcium as skim, 2%, and whole milk, but its soy content brings several other health benefits to the table, including prevention of certain cancers, promoting weight loss, and lowering cholesterol. Also, soy can help accelerate your body’s absorption of calcium, making soy milk an ideal addition to a high calcium diet.
And let’s not forget the all important supplements. I take one tablet that combines 500gm calcium, 250gm magnesium and 12.5 mg zinc from a reliable supplier.