Calcium is the largest mineral in the body used to maintain strong bones and execute a variety of necessary functions. And from a young age, we’ve been told one of the best ways to get calcium is through dairy. However, based on scientific evidence, there is a growing concern that we should eliminate dairy from our diets altogether. From lactose intolerance, which can cause a variety of unwanted symptoms to putting people at risk for developing other chronic diseases and ailments, dairy has been linked to other serious health issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and vitamin D toxicity.
So what do you do if you know you need calcium to be healthy and strong, yet fear the consequences of consuming dairy? From leafy greens to legumes, fish and seeds, there are plenty of other calcium-rich foods out there. Read on to find out some of your best options.
This leafy green has a plentiful amount of calcium and antioxidants to boot. Steam it with some garlic as a side dish, use it as the base for your salad or toss it in the blender for your daily smoothie. Two cups of raw, chopped kale provides you with 188 mg of calcium, which is 19 percent of your daily value.
Related: 5 Delicious Dairy-Free Ice Creams
- Sesame seeds
Despite their small structure, these little guys pack a healthful punch. Not only can they aid in digestive health thanks to their high fiber content, but they can also lower blood pressure, fight inflammation and can ward off certain types of cancers, too. A great addition to salads or sautéed veggies for an extra crunch, one tablespoon of sesame seeds provides you with 88 mg of calcium, which is 9 percent of your daily value.
This refreshing citrus fruit is chock-full of vitamin C and calcium too! In one medium fruit, you’ll get 65 mg of calcium, which is 6 percent of your daily value. A perfect anytime snack or a colorful additive to your yogurt bowl, salad or various other dishes, they’re a versatile option for your calcium intake.
- Dried Figs
Have a sweet tooth? Full of fiber and antioxidants, dried figs are a great way to get your sugar fix naturally. Perfect all by themselves or used in a dessert recipe to add a depth of richness, you’ll get 107 mg of calcium in eight whole dried figs, which is 10 percent of your daily value.
- Canned Salmon
The Mayo Clinic recommends consuming at least two servings of omega-3-rich fish a week to protect your heart. Salmon is a great option and canned salmon is the answer if you want to boost your calcium intake. The bones in salmon are the source of calcium, but they’re too tough on the digestive system when consumed from fresh fish. The canning process permits the bones to soften and become digestible. Not liking the idea of eating bones for lunch? No worries. All you have to do is mash them with a fork, and they’ll disappear into the mix. In half a can with bones, you’ll get 232 mg of calcium, which is 23 percent of your daily value.
- White Beans
White beans provide an excellent source of iron as well as calcium. Use them in your next bean salad, make a hearty soup with them or even a creamy dip. You’ll get 191 mg in 1 canned cup of white beans, which is 19 percent of your daily value.
- Bok Choy
This Chinese cabbage is rich in vitamins A and C, and provides plenty of calcium and fiber, too. You can keep it simple by stir-frying bok choy for a side dish with ginger and garlic, or step up your culinary game and make this udon soup recipe. In one cup of bok choy, you’ll get 74 mg, which is 7 percent of your daily value.
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