10 Calcium-Rich Foods
When you think about improving your diet, calcium might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Did you know that most cells in your body use calcium in some form? Your nervous system, muscles, heart, bones, teeth, and more all need calcium. Lack of calcium can lead to physical and emotional problems. Food is the best way to increase your calcium intake!
There are many calcium-rich vegetables that you can include in your daily diet. Turnip greens, kale, bok choy, mustard greens, beet greens, or cabbage are very nutritious leafy greens. These kinds of greens are versatile and can be added to hot meals like soup, casserole, or stir-fry.
Darker leafy greens can act as a base for great salads. Romaine hearts, arugula, butter lettuce, mesclun, watercress, and red leaf lettuce are common, tasty greens that will give you a boost of calcium. Note that iceberg lettuce is a leafy green but does not offer much nutritional value!
In addition to leafy greens, other calcium-rich foods you can find in the produce aisle include broccoli, acorn squash, chicory, and corn. If you make a meal without much produce in it, add a side of fresh or cooked vegetables. If you’re looking for a healthy snack, make a small veggie platter with a yogurt-based dip.>
A few fruits offer significant calcium content. The list is short but tasty. Dried figs, oranges, papaya, and kiwi will all help you increase your calcium intake. Consider making a smoothie with milk or yogurt, or juicing some of these fruits for a healthy breakfast or snack. If you have leftovers, you can freeze them to make popsicles.
Canned fish might not be a part of your current diet, but seafood like sardines, salmon, mackerel, and shrimp can all give you a calcium boost, especially if the bones are included. The bones are soft and tasty—not the sharp, hard-to-digest bones you might be thinking of.
Try adding canned fish, with the bones if possible, to your next salad or sandwich.
Dairy products are a common source of calcium. They typically offer high levels in an easily absorbable form, like milk. To increase your calcium intake with dairy, eat more cheese (ricotta, cheddar, American, feta, parmesan, or cottage) milk, yogurt, greek yogurt, vanilla frozen yogurt, or vanilla ice cream.
For more dairy in your diet, try adding milk or other dairy products to foods or recipes that call for other liquids. For example, you can put milk instead of water in your oatmeal. You can make dressings and dips with a yogurt base. You can add milk or yogurt to a whole-wheat pancake or waffle recipe.
Food that’s been strengthened by extra nutrients or by nutrients that aren’t naturally present is called fortified food. Common fortified food that has extra calcium includes almond, rice, or soy milk; fruit juices; tofu; frozen waffles; oatmeal; English muffins; and cereal. Always check the label to make sure your food has been fortified with the calcium you’re looking for.
A lot of breakfast options are made with fortified food. Starting your day with toast, cereal with almond milk, or waffles with a side of juice puts you on the right track to increase your calcium intake.
Many whole grains are high in calcium. Wheat bread, brown rice, corn tortillas, and quinoa can all provide a filling base for meals. A quesadilla with cheddar cheese, rice and vegetable stir fry, or canned salmon sandwich are all made up of calcium-rich foods.
Common legumes that offer plenty of calcium include soybeans, baked beans, black-eyed peas, black beans, dried beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, navy beans, and white beans.
Legumes are important in vegan or vegetarian diets because they offer a lot of protein in addition to calcium. Beans can be added to stews, chilis, soups, or even as the main protein in a meal. You can even eat a side of edamame next time you’re looking for a nutritious snack.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts are also a great source of protein and calcium. To add more calcium to your diet, eat more almonds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds. Nuts and seeds make great snacks, and they can be added to many meals. Try adding them to your next bowl of oatmeal or plate of salad.
Frozen Foods, Pudding, and Molasses
Many of the foods already listed can be combined to make great calcium-rich meals. Frozen mac and cheese and frozen cheese pizza both offer a lot of calcium, although these kinds of calcium sources often have high amounts of calories, fat, and cholesterol. Look for ways that increase calcium intake without adding unhealthy amounts of fat, too.
Ask for Help
If you need more calcium in your diet, these 10 calcium-rich foods are a great starting point. Get in touch with your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about your body’s calcium supply.