We’re taught from a young age just how important calcium is for us. Milk bottles and cartons are handed out in some schools, and grocery store aisles are lined with dairy products which promise a high level of calcium for children and adults alike.
Your bones rely on calcium for their strength, especially during childhood and the growing years of your life. It’s an essential mineral which helps your heart beat at the right pace and your nerves communicate with one another. If you have a calcium deficiency, the body will resort to taking calcium from the existing bones to ensure your cells are functioning correctly. It’s this extraction of calcium which causes bones to become weak and frail.
The word ‘calcium’ is automatically linked with dairy and milk. While cow’s milk is an excellent source of calcium, what about people who are vegan, lactose intolerant, don’t or can’t drink it? There’s an abundance of foods which are high in calcium that doesn't get much press. Here are four common foods which you can purchase at a reasonable price from any grocery store.
Often associated with Vitamin E, almonds are also an excellent source of calcium. They’re also a great snack which can be found at almost any food store. You can usually buy small to-go pouches if you want to add them to a lunch bag or eat them as you’re running out the door. They’ll give you 26% of your daily calcium intake per 100g serving. That’s over one-quarter of your recommended amount taken care of.
Nut milks are becoming far more common, with many coffee shops beginning to stock it alongside traditional non-dairy milk such as soy. Almond milk is a perfect replacement for dairy, as you can still enjoy a dairy-free latte and you won’t be missing out on the calcium.
Browse your local market or produce section at your favorite store, and you should be met with an array of attractive dark leafy greens. Kale, collards, spinach, swiss chard, broccoli, and cabbage are just a few green vegetables which will give you an impressive amount of calcium towards your daily intake.
If you were to make a simple stir fry full of these powerful plants, you could see a real bump in your calcium percentage. Combining a cup of kale, two cups of spinach and a cup of broccoli will make up 18% of your daily intake. Stir through 100 g of soybeans and your total calcium intake will be 45% for that meal alone.
Tempeh is a modest ingredient which packs an enormous nutritional punch. Many non-meat eaters use tempeh as a way to fill up on their protein. It’s a little-known fact that it’s also an excellent source of calcium. Just one cup of tempeh contains 184 mg of calcium, which works out to 18% daily intake, similar to the same volume of milk.
Tempeh can be used in many dishes and is versatile in taste. It usually absorbs the flavour of the food it’s being cooked with, and brings a crunchy texture to any dish.
Figs are a beautifully sweet fruit with a chewy texture and edible seeds. They’re an excellent ingredient for cooking with and have taken on various roles in the past. They can be enjoyed throughout the year as they're a favorite dried fruit. Figs are also a natural sweetener alternative, especially if you’re trying to cut down on refined sugars.
The humble fig has many nutritious benefits, from improving gut bacteria to helping digestion. They’re also a great source of calcium and due to their versatility can be used in both savoury or sweet dishes, as well as being eaten as a whole food. A cup of figs will help towards 6% of your daily intake.
Other foods high in calcium are salmon, oranges, white beans and beans. It just goes to show that you don’t need to be sipping on cow’s milk to get your daily intake of this essential mineral and in some cases, the alternative can be more beneficial.