High Calcium Foods List – Top 11 Plant Based Sources

Calcium is a mineral that is necessary for life – it builds strong bones, helps blood clotting, and is vital for transmitting messages through the nerves and also in the release of certain hormones. If we don’t get enough of this mineral through our diet then our body will leach it from our bones, leaving them weak and vulnerable. In this high calcium foods list you will find the top 11 plant food sources of this essential mineral.

PLANT BASED EATING

assorted fresh fruit heart shape

If you’re striving towards a more plant based way of living then you may be wondering just how your’e going to meet your calcium needs. Most 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 simply not true. In fact, it’s so far from the truth that you probably won’t believe there are many plant foods that are actually HIGHER in calcium than dairy products. Yep – that’s one super cool fact huh?

Not only are these foods high in calcium, but they are also healthier in other respects in terms of protein, fiber, antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. This can make the plant based diet, when done properly through correct combinations of food groups, a very healthy way of life indeed.

The Vegan Diet is not Necessarily Healthy!

When you decide to give up all animal products you’ll find that attention to what you’re eating the most important part of your transition, and your health could actually be worse off if you become a junk food vegan. The difference with a plant based diet, compared to a vegan diet, is the fact that it is based around ‘whole plant foods’, and is also low in refined sugars and trans fats. But sugar and trans fats could potentially be a big part of a vegan diet, so you see where I’m going here.

That is why it is crucial before embarking on any restrictive eating plan that you have an understanding of what your body needs, and exactly which foods you need to be eating to obtain it. If you don’t take the time to understand macronutrients and nutrition then you could end up with health problems down the line.

Getting the Calcium you need on a Plant Based Diet

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 into your diet. It is always best to get this from a food source, which is more natural, rather than take supplements that won’t be absorbed so readily AND could potentially throw your other minerals out of whack..

Calcium and Strong Bones

Xray of hand

Calcium is SO important to health because when you don’t get enough your bones get weaker, leaving you 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 make no bones about it (excuse the pun), getting enough calcium is a major player in preventing these problems.

The risks of these diseases can be negated by making sure that you eat a healthy diet that meets all your calcium needs. You should also stay within a healthy weight range, and be sure to keep your bones strong through weight bearing exercise. It’s important that you do both of these things to see and feel the real benefits; one without the other just may not be enough!

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

Best Plant Based Calcium Sources:-

Eating at least a couple of portions of the foods on this list will help you to cover your calcium needs. Try to keep your foods as varied as possible to be sure you are reaping all the other fantastic benefits of them. They are ALL highly nutritious, and should become the cornerstone of any healthy plant based diet.

 1. TOFU

tofu with sesame seeds

Tofu can be one of the best sources of calcium on a plant based diet, which is due to the fact that most supermarket tofu is already fortified with it. You will need to check different brands to find which contain the highest amounts but some can 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 to be in the safe side. Soy is also well known for being GMO, so always buy organic where possible.

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. You can buy them canned for ease of use, but you may prefer the taste and texture of home soaked and cooked pulses if you have the time to do so.

3. KALE AND SWISS CHARD

kale and swiss chard

CALCIUM CONTENT – 1 cup (cooked) 197MG 19.7% of your daily intake.

Kale and Swiss chard have the highest calcium content of all the vegetables, and also contain fiber, phytonutrients, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins C, E and A.

These greens, along with these other known superfoods, have a 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), fresh garlic, chili and lemon juice (my favorite go-to livener for all veggies is those 3 things). TIP:- Be sure to add your fresh lemon juice only at the very end of the cooking process as it tends to go bitter if cooked in from the beginning.

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 pretty good), and 1 tablespoon contains the same amount of calcium as half a cup of milk. You can easily eat these nutritious little seeds into your diet in the form of tahini, which is a paste that can be added to many dishes; or use the seeds as a topping sprinkle for cereal, yogurt or stir-fries. 

Sesame seeds are best eaten either ground up into a powder or paste; or otherwise chewed really well as your stomach won’t be able to break them down very easily.

5. BUTTERNUT SQUASH

halved 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 carotenoids which are great for the prevention of heart disease, arthritis and asthma.

It is also a magnificent source of nerve soothing vitamin B6, potassium, folate, panothenic acid, and manganese, making it a vegetable you should be consuming regularly on your plant based diet.

6. ALMONDS

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’re tempted to snack on unhealthy fast foods.

They are 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, making them a powerful little nut that deserve a regular place in your diet.

7. ORANGES

bowl of oranges

CALCIUM CONTENT – 1 large orange 75MG – 7% of your daily intake.

This was even a new one on me! Oranges contain a really significant amount of calcium, are delicious, and like almonds are easily transportable. They also contain what they are of course most famous for – vitamin C; along with other nutrients such as potassium, B-vitamins, vitamin A and magnesium.

Oranges are also great for re-hydrating and refueling your blood sugar’s after a hard workout, making them a perfect post workout food that you can just throw in your gym bag and off you go!

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 spices like garlic, paprika and chili flakes. They are just so versatile and can be incorporated into any meal – they’re also way healthier and lower GI than your average white spud. Low GI foods like the sweet potato help to keep blood sugar stable and weight under control, both of which bring with them many other health benefits.

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 superfood because of their superior nutrient content, and  are also high in vitamin C, B6 and magnesium.

9. BROCCOLI

floret of broccoli

CALCIUM CONTENT 1 cup 62MG – 6% of your daily intake.

Another one of mother nature’s super foods, broccoli contains lots of health benefits. It is high in fiber and can be eaten raw in salads, juiced, steamed, or flash stir-fried. The way you cook your broccoli is very important: if you boil or over cook it you can lose up to 90% of its awesome nutritional powers.

This is another veggie that tastes great stir fried with chilli, garlic and lemon, and a dash of tamari or soy sauce (tamari is healthier; and gluten and sugar free).

It is also one of the highest protein vegetables that also contains vitamin C, B6, K and vitamin A.

TIP:- For nutrition’s sake always eat the raw stalk of your broccoli. After you have prepared the florets for cooking, just slice down and take the outer edges off the stalk off (I give those to my dog who loves them) and eat the inner tube you have left – it tastes very mild; and is crisp, juicy and full of nutrition.

10. FIGS

CALCIUM CONTENT – per 3 figs – 52MG – 5% of your daily intake.

Figs, both raw and dried, 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 dried when they go all sweet and chewy.

Add them chopped to salads, or bake your fresh figs with a little honey for the ultimate sweet treat. Also great with coconut yogurt, and flakesd roasted almonds for breakfast or dessert.

11. GREEN SUPERFOOD POWDER

spirulina and chlorophyl

There are many different types of green superfood powder, such as wheat grass, barley grass, spirulina, Chlorella and moringa to name just a few. This thing they all have in common is that along with a super high antioxidant and phytonutrient content, they all contain high levels of calcium as most green leafy foods do, except this is way more concentrated, and freeze or tumble dried at its peak of nutrition.

A shot of green superfood powder is a good step to take on the plant based diet; especially if you want to take your health to the next level and to be doubly sure you’re meeting all your nutrient needs. These amazing, specially formulated powders give you energy, vitality, clarity, immune support, better sleep, anti aging benefits on the inside and out.

Try it for yourself if you don’t believe me – you will feel them working within about half an hour in terms of increased energy and sparkly eyes. Just be sure to use only high quality powders or you will not be guaranteed the best results.

Check out this YouTube video for a delicious way to get your calcium in a homemade chocolate treat that looks oh so delicious!

Thank you for reading post’s from zestforever and supporting the plant based eating cause. If you have any questions about plant based calcium or the plant based diet, then please feel free to post below as I would be happy to help if I can. Thanks again!

Stefanie Taylor
Plant based eating is set to EXPLODE in 2019; not just for health reasons, but also to help keep our beautiful planet thriving. I have lived this healthful lifestyle for over 2 years, which is the reason why zestforever was born to share my experiences, trials and errors, how I overcame them, and how to turn to this lifestyle in such a way that you will thrive too.

I have studied, tried and tested healthy foods, superfoods and diets for over 25 years, but nothing has come close to giving me the buzz of wellness that plant based eating has. To expand my knowledge further I have also studied and worked as a Sports Nutritional Advisor, Nutritional Therapist, and Clinical Weight Loss Advisor - all of which can tie in with the plant based diet.

This website is not intended to treat or diagnose any medical diseases or illnesses. It's merely meant as a way of showing you how to boost your health through the eating of more nutritious plant foods in place of junk foods.

I am grateful for your support, and I hope that the tips and guides you find here will help to guide you on your own plant based journey.

19 thoughts on “High Calcium Foods List – Top 11 Plant Based Sources”

  1. Hello there! My mom just went to the doctor and I was with her. The doctor said that she should take high calcium food to help her with with her bones because she’s getting older now. My mom doesn’t drink milk anymore and now I want to help her to provide the needed calcium she needs to intake. Luckily, I found and read your article which is very informative and helpful. MY mom will love this information of foods that are high in calcium. I will surely share this to her. Thank you for sharing this information.

    • Hi John, well that’s just great that you came across this article then! Yes, calcium is especially important as people get older to help stop osteoporosis and fractures etc. And getting calcium from food sources rather than tablets is way more effective. If she does decide to go for supplements then you have to be really careful what you buy as some of it isn’t absorbable and can even actually be bad for you. It’s best to find out from a trained medical herbalist what would be the best to take.

      I know this because I work with a herbalist and I often hear her saying to people the certain calcium supplements they are taking are bad (usually these are the ones prescribed by doctors or cheaper brands).

      Also, another crucial ting for strong bones is weight bearing/resistance exercise such as gym work, weights, power walking and swimming among others. Hope this helps and good luck to your mum.

  2. Hi Stefanie,

    Great article!

    Thank you for this useful food list! I knew there were very healthy but what I didn’t know is that they contain a high amount of calcium. That’s exactly what I needed!
    I’ve heard somewhere that tofu is healthy, but when eating it in large quantity, it can become dangerous. Have you already heard about this?
    I am 40 plus now, and you know that the more we get older, the more we need calcium:). So my question is, will my body receive all the calcium required by eating these foods or should I take some supplements too?

    Thank you very much for this excellent post!

    • Hi Danielle, yes tofu is healthy, and full of calcium if you buy the fortified versions which most of them are, but you need to check labels to be sure. And Yes, soya can be bad if you have hormonal problems as it’s estrogenic and so can mimic estrogen in the body causing distruptions. I am in your age group and notice if I have to much soy it messes with my periods…I can however have a little, say a couple of portions a week and it doesn’t affect me. 

      As for calcium supplements, I much prefer to try and get my calcium from food sources where possible because it is much more readily absorbed by the body. Also, I have read that calcium supplements aren’t actually that good for you long term. 

  3. Hello and thanks for sharing your post that is well detailed and has a ton of great information. Calcium is so important because this is one of the building blocks that the body needs in order to function well.
    it is good to know that we can get this vitamin in natural ways from the foods that we eat.

    • Hi Norman, yes getting enough calcium is crucial, and something I am very aware of now I have turned to a plant based lifestyle. I want my bones to live into old age that’s for sure!

  4. Hi Stefanie,

    Great post. I have been on a plant based diet for a couple of years now (Still trying to wean myself off fish though! haha) and eat most of the above. I love my almonds, kale, pumpkin, sweet potatoes. I often get asked how do I get calcium if I don’t eat dairy.

    I am going to bookmark your site and share this post with as many people as I can. It answers the calcium debate beautifully! Thanks for a brilliant post.

    Kev

    • Hi Kevin, thank you so much, I really appreciate you saying those things and you have made my day. Yes, I too have problems with people asking me where I get my calcium if I don’t eat dairy, and it always amuses me as I’m always so much healthier than them as I never get sick! Ha ha. Next time somebody asks you that you should point out all the many countries and cultures who don’t eat dairy at all and are in fact all lactose intolerant, but are healthier and have way less disease than our society. There’s obviously a link there.

      It’s great you eat so well, I don’t think you should beat yourself up about the fish as it does offer health benefits. In fact, I watched a television programme not long ago about one of the longest living cultures in the world from some island near Japan and they just lived on fish, fruit, and vegetables. Their average age was 120 years or something like that.

      It just shows how much of out lifespan the average Western diet is taking away from us. Still…we are starting to learn.

  5. Great article, when we talk about high calcium, only dairy products came into our minds but that is not true and you have mentioned it so so nicely. Even citrus juices can help us building good calcium stores for stronger bones. Great article, very informative and useful.

    • Yes, you’re right about citrus juices being high in calcium. Even I was shocked about how much calcium is in an Orange! I am now going to make a special effort to eat one every day to boost my supply. I do prefer to eat the whole fruit rather than juices as you could easily way 10 oranges in one glass of juice and that is just an unnatural among of fructose to be putting in your body in one hit.

      They actually say that fruit juices are just as bad as soft drinks when it comes to the blood sugar spike they give you. It doesn’t matter if they are healthier in other ways they still give you a huge insulin response which in the long term can promote obesity, diabetes and all the other nasty things that come along with that. So my advice, stick to the whole fruit just like mother nature intended and you can’t go wrong.

  6. Hi Stephanie,

    Hold on, you telling me sweet potatoes contain more calcium than milk? I did not even know any of the foods you listed contained any calcium lol. I thought calcium was just contained in things like milk and cheese etc.

    Well, I eat those potatoes, kale and beans – but I will be hunting for a few more of those foods to incorporate into interesting and healthy meals. Thank you very much as I am trying to find an affordable and healthy shopping list for the week and seen your post.

    I will be back for more Stephanie and thanks again.

    Regards,

    Philip.

    • Hi Philip, yes so many people think they can only get calcium from dairy products but it’s just not true. In fact there are whole countries and cultures that don’t consume dairy and they are perfectly healthy if not healthier than our culture. Go figure hey lol.

      To be honest, I didn’t realise this about calcium myself until I started on a plant based diet and started studying it in depth. As for the sweet potatoes, I’m not sure if they are as high as milk, I would have to go back and check as I did say ‘some of these’ are higher than milk. But the first half of the list definitely are. And I’m sure the sweet potatoes would be close anyway.

      The thing is, I have read from quite a few different sources now that as dairy products are mostly acid forming, they actually leach more calcium out of our bones to process the calcium in the dairy but I don’t know how true this is. But it does actually makes sense when you think about how our high animal/dairy based culture is one of the unhealthiest in the world. And we get higher incidence of osteoporosis etc. Food for thought Hey, which is why I get mine from the plants now.

  7. I certainly would not have thought of Black Eyed Peas having the most calcium of any plant based food! And I’ve been teaching health and nutrition classes for over 25 years! That’s just so fantastic to know. I love this list, and that you mentioned the percentage of daily amount of calcium that each provide. Thank you so much for putting this together for us. It is truly a wonderful resource to have!

    • Hi Shelley, that’s great you teach nutrition, you are a woman after my own heart! I know, there are so many great calcium foods out there that are completely animal free. I have researched this field a lot more thoroughly now I have turned to the plant based way of eating because I wanted to make sure that I got all the right nutrition. I have seen a few people go vegan and make themselves sick because they had no idea what they were doing and did no research. I definitely didn’t want to make that mistake.

      Luckily, I have just felt fantastic the whole year that I’ve been doing this, and I haven’t been sick once, so I take this as evidence that all is well.
      Thanks for reading and I’m glad you learnt something new.

  8. Are there some more nutrition foods like this to help you with this calcium problem? What about fruits and meat and cerals? And one suggestion – remove this CAPTCHA thing!

    • Hi Marko, yes loads of other foods contain calcium but I was just doing the top 9 plant sources. Many of the other nuts and seeds not mentioned all have calcium and also many other vegetables, especially the green leafy kind. As far as I’m aware meat doesn’t as all the calcium in an animal would have been stored in its bones.

      As for this CAPTCHA thing I have no idea what you mean. I’m pretty new to this but I will definitely find out! Thanks.

  9. Mmmm sesame and sweet potatoes, two of my absolute favorite things.
    My grandmother had to take a calcium supplement, it was liquid and disgusting, a thick white liquid she had to take by the spoonful. I wonder if that’s still a thing…and I wonder if her needs could have been met simply with more kale and tofu!

    • Yes, I think they gave that liquid out to quite a few people, my mum was given these big white horse pill tablets to take. Thing is, calcium supplements don’t absorb too well so could of been a waste of time. Not that I’m telling anybody they should stop taking them, just be sure to get what you need from foods sources as at least you know it’s absorbed.

  10. Yes, not many people know that there are so many great plant sources of calcium, they mostly just presume it comes from animal products. I much prefer the plant sources now I am into plant based eating and it is also way more important to eat these foods if you don’t eat dairy products. Either way, most of the foods on that list are also super healthy and have lots of other great nutrients and benefits so you get the best of both worlds.

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