6 Plant-based Sources of Calcium

Largely due to the advertising efforts of the dairy industry, milk has been long been touted as a necessary source of calcium. We need that daily glass of milk to keep our bones and teeth strong, right? …Not exactly. Cows’ milk is only “nature’s perfect food” if you’re a baby cow. Aside from the fact that dairy milk just isn’t a nutritional necessity for human beings, its calcium is not absorbed as effectively as plant-based calcium in the body. If you’re thinking of ditching dairy and you’re curious about where your calcium will come from, check out these six veg foods that’ll keep your bones stronger than cows’ milk ever could.

  1. Collard greens. Dark leafy greens like kale, spinach and chard are all plentiful in calcium, but collards take the cake (or the salad?) with 357 mg in a mere cup! Collards are a yummy staple in traditional Southern cuisine. They are perfect for stir fries and Autumnal soups, or you can simply sauteé them with some spices for a nutritious side dish. Also packed with vitamin A, vitamin K and folate, collard greens are your new best friend if you want to load up on calcium along with a variety of other essential nutrients your body will thank you for.

2. Broccoli. It’s no secret that broccoli is a nutritious powerhouse, but few know it boasts 124 mg of calcium in two cups. If the thought of eating broccoli triggers memories of begrudgingly nibbling the stuff at your parents’ demand, don’t worry — the brilliant vegan chefs of the world have gifted us with countless recipes that make broccoli absolutely delicious! Curling up with a bowl of Vegan Broccoli and Cheese soup is a perfect way to enjoy this calcium-rich veggie during the chilly winter months.

3. Tahini. A Middle Eastern condiment that you can either make at home or grab from the store, Tahini is a thick paste made from ground sesame seeds. Mix it into a homemade vegan salad dressing to drizzle over those leafy greens and you’re in for an additional calcium boost of 64 mg in every delicious tablespoon! It also contains as much plant-based protein as peanut butter, and can help you reach your daily dose of iron, too.

4. Almonds. If you want a non-dairy replacement for the milk in your healthy cereal, look no further than almond milk! Many plant milks are fortified with extra calcium and vitamin D; 16 ounces of almond milk provide approximately two thirds of your daily calcium requirement. Plain almonds can be a convenient source of calcium on their own with 61 mg in a quarter cup — chop them up and sprinkle them over your favorite salad to add a nutty crunch!

5. Chia seeds. Ch-ch-ch-chia! If you ever had a Chia Pet as a kid, you’re already familiar with these tiny-but-awesome black seeds. While Chia seeds are often hailed for their Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which are also important, they’re rich in calcium too. 3 ounces of chia contain 537 mg of calcium. You can easily add some chia to your diet by tossing a tablespoon or two into your morning smoothie — or, if you’ve got a sweet tooth and you’re feeling fancy, whip up some chia pudding.

6. Blackstrap molasses. Holy molasses, Batman! Blackstrap molasses is the syrupy liquid produced when the sucrose is extracted from sugarcane. Who knew something so good for you could come from the very plant that produces the sugar wreaking havoc on your health? This ooey-gooey goodness gets a claim to fame for its 3.5 mg of iron per tablespoon, but it’s also loaded with 200 mg of calcium. I‘ve seen it incorporated into barbecue sauce, pumpkin pie and even cookies.

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