Calcium is a mineral that is necessary for life – it builds strong bones, helps blood clotting, is vital for transmitting messages through the nerves, and also in the release of certain hormones. If we don’t get enough through our diet then our body will leach it from our bones leaving them weak and vulnerable. Find out the top 9 plant sources of this essential mineral on this high calcium foods list.
PLANT BASED EATING
If you’re striving towards a more plant based way of living, then you may very well be wondering where your’e going to get your calcium. Many of us have been conditioned to believe that we can only get calcium from dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt – but this is far from the truth.
In fact it is so far from the truth that you probably won’t believe what I’m about to tell you – that there are many plant foods that are actually HIGHER in calcium than dairy products.
Not only are these foods high in calcium but they are also super healthy in other respects because they are higher in protein, fiber, antioxidants, plus other phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals than most animal based foods. This makes the plant based diet when done correctly with attention to what you are eating, a very healthy way of life.
Plant based and vegan diets aren’t necessarily healthy:
Attention to what you are eating is the important part here as your health could actually be worse off if you become a junk food vegan. It is crucial before embarking on any restrictive eating plan that you have an understanding of what your body needs, and which foods you need to be eating to obtain it.
GETTING THE NUTRIENTS YOU NEED
You will need to make sure you get enough protein (which is actually way easier than you think), calcium, low GI carbohydrates, and a whole array of nutrients from fruits and vegetables.
Sounds hard and like too much effort right? Well believe me, I thought the same thing when I started out on the plant based lifestyle, but the benefits have been so immense that I can’t even begin to describe in this post – clear skin, clear mind, vitality and increased energy are the most prominent side effects I have noticed since cutting animal products from my diet.
Just learn the basics to begin with-
You don’t need to know everything right away; just the basics and the rest you will learn as you go along. It is so easy nowadays to live the plant based lifestyle what with the internet being awash with vegan recipes, and our supermarkets have also followed suit by stocking plant milks, cheeses, frozen meals, coconut ice creams (yummy by the way) and loads of other goodies.
Even fast food joints and restaurants are adding vegan menus, allowing you to eat out without being looked upon like an alien from outer space when you order your tantiaising plate of vegetables. It’s literally never been easier to convert to this lifestyle than it is right now, and it’s only set to become an even bigger trend this year.
WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL WITH CALCIUM?
When you start eating plant based, or even if you have decided to cut out dairy for whatever reason (maybe you are dairy intolerant), then you will need to be mindful of getting enough calcium, and it really is best to get this from food rather than take supplements which just aren’t absorbed as well.
We MUST have calcium for strong bones!
Calcium is so important to health because when we don’t get enough our bones get weaker and leave us more susceptible not only to breakages, but the dreaded osteoporosis that affects 1 in 2 females and 1 in 4 males at some point in their lives. These odds do often have other factors involved such as genetics, ethnicity, bone structure, body weight, certain diseases, and some medications BUT getting enough calcium is a major player here.
Of course, these risks can be negated by making sure that you eat a healthy diet that meets your calcium needs; stay within a healthy weight range; and keep bones strong through weight bearing exercise. Get these down and you should be OK.
HOW MUCH CALCIUM DO I NEED?
CHILDREN – 1300MG PER DAY
WOMEN UNDER 50 – 1000MG PER DAY
WOMEN OVER 50 – 1,200MG PER DAY
MEN UNDER 70 – 1000MG PER DAY
MEN OVER 70 – 1,200 MG PER DAY
HIGH CALCIUM FOODS LIST – 9 PLANT BASED SOURCES
Tofu can be one of the best sources of calcium on the plant based diet due to the fact that most tofu is already fortified with it. You will need to check different brands to find one that contains good amounts, but some offer up to 33% of your daily intake in just one cup.
Tofu is also extremely high in plant protein and contains all 8 amino acids, plus iron, copper, zinc, B1 and the minerals manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium.
Soy products are estrogenic and can lead to hormone disruptions in both men and women if eaten in large quantities, so you should stick with just a couple of servings a week
2. BLACK EYED PEAS
CALCIUM CONTENT – 1 cup (canned) 370MG 38% of your daily intake.
Beans all contain calcium, but the highest by far are black eyed peas which can easily be added to stews, soups, and salads. They also contain good amounts of B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and vitamins A, D and C, and you can buy them canned for ease of use.
3. KALE AND SWISS CHARD
CALCIUM CONTENT – 1 cup (cooked) 197MG 19.7% of your daily intake.
Kale and Swiss chard are the highest calcium of all the vegetables, and also contain fiber, phytonutrients, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins C, E and A.
These greens are known super foods due to their superior nutritional profile, and should be eaten only lightly cooked or steamed to retain their nutrients. I like to saute mine quickly with some coconut oil (fat helps the absorption of many of kale’s nutrients) and also some garlic, chili and lemon juice.
4. SESAME SEEDS
CALCIUM CONTENT – 1 tablespoon 140MG 14% of your daily intake.
Sesame seeds hold the highest calcium content of all the seeds ( but the others are also good) and1 tablespoon contains the same amount of calcium as half a cup of milk. You can easily eat these seeds in the form of tahini, which you can then add to meals, or use as a topping sprinkle for cereal.
Sesame seeds are best eaten ground up into a powder OR chewed really well otherwise it just goes in and comes out whole again!
5. BUTTERNUT SQUASH
CALCIUM CONTENT – 1 cup 84MG 8.4% of your daily intake.
Not only is butternut squash high in calcium but it also contains carotonoids, which are great for the prevention of heart disease, arthritis and asthma.
It is also a magnificant source of nerve soothing vitamin B6, potassium, folate, panothenic acid, and manganese – making it a vegetable you should consume regularly on your plant based diet.
CALCIUM CONTENT- 23 nuts (large handful) 76MG – 7.6% of your daily intake.
Almonds are delicious, and full of protein and nutrients – calcium being one of them. Plus they are an easy and transportable snack that can be popped into your handbag and taken anywhere. Perfect for those times when you are tempted to snack on unhealthy fast foods!
They are also choc full of fiber, and their skins are said to contain over 20 different antioxidant flavenoids, all of which are good for anti aging. They also contain vitamin E, magnesium, riboflavin, and potassium to boot.
CALCIUM CONTENT – 1 large orange 75MG – 7% of your daily intake.
Well who knew it? This was even a new one on me! Oranges contain a really high amount of calcium – plus they are delicious and like almonds, easily transportable. They also contain what they are most famous for – vitamin C, along with potassium, B-vitamins, vitamin A, and magnesium.
Oranges are also great for re hydrating and refueling sugars after a workout.
8. SWEET POTATO
CALCIUM CONTENT – 1 large potato 68MG – 7% of your daily intake.
I just love sweet potato wedges, baked in the oven with coconut oil and some spices like garlic, paprika, and chili flakes. In fact, they are just so versatile and can be incorporated into any meal, and they are healthier and lower GI than your average white spud. Low glycemic foods keep blood sugars stable and weight under control.
As with all orange coloured fruits and vegetables, sweet potato is high in beta-carotene which is converted into vitamin A in the body. Sweet potatoes are another super food because of their superior nutrient content, and they are also high in vitamin C, B6, and magnesium.
CALCIUM CONTENT – 1 cup 62MG – 6% of your daily intake.
Another one of natures super foods, broccoli is not only high in vitamin A but also contains a compound that has the ability to work on a genetic level to ‘switch off’ cancer genes, AND to hinder the progression of cancer. Now if that’s not a super food then I don’t know what is!
It is one of the highest protein vegetables that also contains lots of vitamin C, B6 and vitamin A.
CALCIUM CONTENT – per 3 figs – 52MG – 5% of your daily intake.
Figs both raw and dried also contain magnesium, manganese, copper, potassium, B6,and vitamin K, so they really are a fantastic addition to any healthy diet plan. They are delicious fresh when in season, but equally as good when dried when they go all sweet and chewy.
Add them chopped to salads, or bake fresh figs with a little honey for the ultimate sweet treat. Great with coconut yogurt for breakfast or dessert.
Check out this YouTube video for a yummy way to get your calcium in a homemade chocolate treat.