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Monday 24 April 2017

Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium-Rich Foods

Michael Joseph is a nutrition educator with a strong focus on health optimization through real food and a healthy lifestyle. He holds a Master’s degree in Nutrition Education, but gained most of his knowledge in the real world; seeing how dietary intervention impacts people in their everyday life.

He writes:
"Dairy foods such as whole milk and cheese are the most significant sources of calcium. However, some people cannot consume dairy due to either allergies, sensitivities, or personal choice.

This article will provide a list of nineteen calcium-rich foods that come from non-dairy sources.

What is Calcium?
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in our entire body, and it plays a huge role in our health.
While every cell in our body makes use of calcium, the vast majority (99%) is found in our bones and teeth.
From cardiovascular health to our skeletal system, an adequate supply of calcium is essential for our overall health.
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adults is 1,000mg, rising to 1,200mg for males at age 71 and females at the age of 51.

Top 19 Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium:

Where can we get calcium except for cheese and milk?
Perhaps surprisingly, there are many sources of calcium out there, and they come from a wide range of food groups.

1. Sardines
Sardines are small fish that often come in their whole form.
As a result, they are one of the most calcium-rich foods due to the many bones they contain.
Other notable nutrients include selenium, vitamin B12, vitamin D, phosphorus and vitamin B3.
Key Point: Sardines offer a substantial amount of calcium – 38% RDA per 100g.

2. Kale
Kale is one of the best sources of calcium and provides 135mg calcium per 100g
contains a wealth of different vitamins and minerals which include vitamin K, manganese, and vitamin A.
The science behind the health properties of kale is also impressive.
Key Point: Kale is a great provider of calcium – 14% RDA per 100g.

3. Bok Choy
Otherwise known as ‘Chinese cabbage,’ bok choy is a nutritious vegetable that is high in calcium.
Aside from calcium, bok choy is also full of vitamins, minerals, and health-supportive phytonutrients.
The vegetable is particularly high in vitamins A, C, and K.
Key Point: As one of the best non-dairy sources of calcium, bok choy offers 11% of the RDA per 100g.

4. Almonds
Nuts are one of the highest non-dairy sources of calcium and almonds offer the most.
When we consider
how nutritious almonds are, it’s not surprising that they have documented health benefits.
Randomized, controlled trials show that;
* Swapping a daily carbohydrate snack for almonds leads to weight loss and improved cardiovascular markers over two weeks.
* Almonds improve cholesterol profiles, vascular function, and decrease systemic inflammation.
* Even a low dose of 10g almonds per day significantly increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and reduces triglycerides.
Key Point: 100g of almonds contains 26% of the calcium RDA.

5. Kelp Seaweed
Kelp is a unique sea vegetable that offers some important health benefits.
Not only is kelp a good source of calcium, but it also contains high amounts of magnesium, iron, and folic acid.
Key Point: 100g of kelp gives you 17% of the RDA for calcium.

6. Okra

Okra is a lesser known vegetable, and it has 81mg calcium in every 100g—8% of the RDA.
It also contains significant amounts of manganese, vitamins A and K, and folate.
Studies show that this vegetable also has high antioxidant potential, as well as diabetes and liver-protective properties
It may be used as part of a stew, made into chips, or cooked in the context of a dish.
If you need some ideas, then here is a great recipe for crispy garlic-parmesan okra.

Key Point: Okra is a decent source of calcium and it is also has some impressive health benefits.

7. Canned Pink Salmon

Similar to sardines, canned pink salmon is also one of the best ways to get calcium.
The reason for this is that it typically comes with the soft bones inside the can.
Providing you do eat these bones, then canned pink salmon provides a significant 277mg of calcium (28% RDA).
Calcium certainly isn’t the only reason to eat pink salmon, and it’s also rich in a wide variety of micronutrients.
Key Point: Canned pink salmon contains 8% of the RDA per 100g and a vast range of health-supportive nutrients.

8. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds have been exploding in popularity over recent years; they are a source of omega-3 and one of the most calcium-rich foods.
Key Point: Chia seeds contain 63% of the RDA for calcium per 100g.

9. Collard Greens

Like other dark green vegetables, collard greens also contain a decent supply of calcium.
Collards are a member of the brassica family of vegetables and taste similar to cabbage.
They are also very high in vitamin A, C and K, folate, and manganese.
Key Point: Collards are one of the best non-dairy sources of calcium; 100g provides 14% of the RDA.

10. Nopales

For anyone who doesn’t know what Nopales are, then they are a kind of vegetable native to Mexico.
As a type of prickly cacti, they certainly look unique, and they inspire dozens of Mexican dishes.
Regarding their nutritional profile, they contain 164mg of calcium per 100g — 16% of the RDA
Additionally, Nopales are high in manganese, magnesium, and vitamin C.
A range of studies also suggests that they have anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory effects
Key Point: Nopales are one of the highest calcium foods, providing 16% RDA per 100g, and they are packed with nutrition.

11. Rhubarb
Rhubarb is an incredibly sour fruit that also packs a fair amount of nutrients.
A 100g serving of rhubarb contains around 9% of the RDA for calcium — 86mg
The fruit contains reasonable amounts of vitamins C and K too.
It is a seasonal fruit which is typically available in spring.
Not sure on how to prepare it?
Then here is a low carb rhubarb crumble; a delicious way to get more calcium!

Key Point: Rhubarb is a seasonal, sour fruit that provides a decent amount of calcium at 9% RDA per 100g.

12. Turnip Greens
Turnip greens are a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, along with others such as cabbage and Brussels sprouts.
Key Point: Turnip greens are full of calcium and they contain 19% of the RDA per 100g.

13. Spinach
Spinach has a case for being the most nutrient-dense vegetable out there, and it is high in a range of micronutrients.
Spinach supplies a massive amount of vitamins A and K. Furthermore, it provides high doses of folate, vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, and potassium.
Spinach is a big source of dietary nitrate, which studies show can have impressive effects on vascular health and help ease arterial stiffness
Key Point: Spinach is one of the healthiest vegetables out there and it’s a good source of calcium too, providing 10% of the RDA per 100g.

14. Sesame Seeds
Earlier, we saw that chia seeds are a great source of calcium.
Similarly, so are another member of the seed family — sesame seeds. These seeds contain an even larger amount of calcium than chia seeds do.
However, don’t eat too many — the one problem they have is an extremely
high omega 6 to 3 ratio of approximately 58 to 1.
Key Point: Sesame seeds are absolutely packed with calcium and contain 98% RDA per 100g.

15. Dried Herbs
While dried herbs won’t add a lot of calcium to your diet due to the small serving sizes, they are a significant source of the mineral.
For example, thyme and basil provide 1890mg and 2113mg of calcium respectively per 100g, representing about 200% of the RDA
With these dried herbs, less is more, and just a pinch adds a great flavour.
Moreover, herbs have some of the
very highest antioxidant properties out of all foods.
Studies show that many dried herbs have medicinal benefits and they can be anti-diabetic, anti-carcinogenic, and heart-protective
Key Point: Herbs have substantial health benefits. They are also extremely calcium-rich, containing over 200% RDA per 100g.

16. Beet Greens
Beet greens are another calcium-rich vegetable, providing 112mg of the mineral per 100g – 12% of the RDA
Like other dark green veggies, they contain a vast amount of vitamins and minerals and they are particularly high in vitamin A, C, K, magnesium, and potassium.
As some of these vitamins are fat-soluble, you should eat them with a source of fat if you want to absorb them correctly.
Leafy greens make a great combination with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Key Point: Beet greens provide a reasonable supply of calcium at 12% RDA per 100g.

17. Amaranth Leaves
If you haven’t heard of amaranth leaves, then they are highly nutritious and resemble spinach, and you should be able to pick it up at vegetable markets or in Asian grocery stores.
Key Point: Amaranth leaves are packed with nutrients and provide 22% of the calcium RDA per 100g.

18. Mustard Greens
Mustard greens are a species of mustard plant that is loaded with nutrients and have a somewhat spicy taste. The leaves contain 103mg calcium per 100g — 10% of the RDA. As with other dark leafy greens, they provide substantial amounts of vitamin A, C, K, and folate.
Key Point: Mustard greens contain about 10% of the RDA per 100g, but they also offer a range of wider benefits.

19. Tempeh
Another food high in calcium is tempeh.
Tempeh is a soy product that is a traditional food in Indonesia, but it is now famous around the world.
If you are unsure on the idea of eating soy, then there is a world of difference between processed soy products and a traditional, fermented food.
Tempeh contains 111mg calcium per 100g which is around 11% of the RDA
It also contains probiotics, and a wide range of nutrients in decent amounts, such as manganese, copper, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and potassium.
Recent research suggests that it has a higher nutrient value and larger preventive effect against oxidative stress than non-fermented soy
Key Point: Tempeh is another non-dairy option for calcium; it provides 11% of the RDA per 100g.

Final Thoughts
Calcium is an essential mineral which dairy provides in significant proportions.
However, if you have any reason to avoid dairy products, then this list might be useful.
All these calcium-rich, non-dairy foods provide a decent amount of the mineral and bring separate health benefits too."

The above is only a snippet of Michael's article.
You can read it in full, with related links, here 

A variety of articles, studies and recipe ideas are in this blog, and not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues please take these into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan


Sue (this n that) said...

Thank you so very much Jan, it's always a daily battle to get enough calcium without resorting to too many supplements. I'm really glad for lactose-free milk. Having this list in the one spot is so convenient, I shall keep it bookmarked and pass it on as well.
Cheerio for now and hope your week is lovely :D)

eileeninmd said...

Hello, I see a few things on the list that I like and enjoy. Calcium and Vitamin D are two things I need to keep up with. Thanks for sharing. Happy Monday, enjoy your new week!

roughterrain crane said...

I often eat okra raw sliced with light seasoning. I think it has the origin in Africa. It is sticky after cut, but I love it.
Thanks for visiting my post.

only slightly confused said...

As my dairy intolerance returns, this list looks hopeful.

JFM said...

Very informative Jan! I have printed this post for future reference...I do hope this is alright with you~

Debbie said...

this is a great resource jan, i always try to enrich my diet naturally instead of taking vitamins. unfortunately, i do not eat most of these food but i love and eat a lot of cheese, almonds, spinach and hopefully i have things covered!!

Lowcarb team member said...

Many thanks to all for your comments so far on this post ... and I am pleased that it is so helpful to you.
It is nice to keep advice like this close to hand for future reference.

Of course you may also wish to have a look at Michaels full article (with related links) here

All the best Jan

Snowbird said...

How fascinating Jan, I had no idea so many of these were so calcium rich. Good to know

Bob Bushell said...

I love all of them, yum.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this info. Okra is the biggest surprise to me and I actually like it!

Nina said...

Hi Jan,
Thanks so much for this article! I was not aware of that almonds and chia seeds are so rich in calcium.
Neither that :Swapping a daily carbohydrate snack for almonds leads to weight loss and improved cardiovascular markers over two weeks!" I have not had almonds in the house since Christmas, since I've tried to cut down the calories ... in order to loose the few extra pounds - but it almonds are better snacks than carbohydrates (fx 10 almonds in stead of an apple) - I'll reconsider and would take the almonds instead! :)

Lisa said...

That reminds me I need to get some more nuts from Lidl when I'm next n there. A good reminder to keep putting more kale or spinach into those smoothies too.
Lisa x

Mary Kirkland said...

I already eat a lot of those things and Tempeh has been on my list of things to try for a while.

happyone said...

Thanks for all these other sources of calcium.
I've always drunk lots of milk.

Linda said...

This is great to know, Jan! I do love milk and yogourt and have them daily, and sometimes cheese as well, but it is nice to know other sources. Thank you so m uch for sharing.

Sandra Cox said...

Good info here, Jan. Most of us are always on the lookout for calcium products.

riitta k said...

Interesting post Jan. My calcium levels are regularly monitored and I have to take extra calcium because my thyroid was operated away a while ago. So far all good. Happy week!

Martha said...

This is great information. I see a lot of things on the list that I really enjoy!

Prunella Pepperpot said...

An extremely enlightening article Jan. I never knew that rhubard contained calcium. I like to add some to my apple crumbles.
Have a wonderful Wednesday :)

Lisabella Russo said...

Wow, I had no idea there were so many alternate calcium options! Thanks for expanding my knowledge.

Magic Love Crow said...

Thanks so much Jan! Excellent list!

The Happy Whisk said...

We have number ten at one of our markets but I've not tried them yet. As for dairy, I do not agree that dairy is the most significant way to get calcium.