03 Jan How you can meet your calcium requirements if you don’t eat dairy
Three cheers for calcium! It’s the most important mineral for strong bones and healthy teeth. While the best sources of calcium are dairy foods, there are other foods with a decent whack of calcium too. So to preserve your skeleton be sure to include the following foods in your diet, especially if you steer clear of dairy foods:
- Calcium fortified soy milk: Soy milk doesn’t naturally contain much calcium. So, it’s important to choose a brand that’s been fortified. A cup of calcium-fortified soy milk has the same amount of calcium as a cup of cow’s milk. Now that’s something to moo about it.
- Firm tofu: Also known as bean curd, tofu is traditionally associated with Asian cuisine. Check out my recipe for Chipotle tofu with corn and mung bean salad (link) for some inspiration. 100g of tofu contains about 200mg of the bone-building stuff – so a 150g serve of tofu has the same amount of calcium as a glass of milk. Just check the label to make sure the brand you choose contains calcium.
- Tempeh: Tempeh is fermented soy beans and has a more intense flavour than tofu. Like tofu, tempeh is a good source of calcium. You can use tofu and tempeh interchangeably to help keep your tastebuds excited.
- Almonds: A handful of almonds contains close to 80mg of calcium, not as much as a piece of cheese, but it’s a good source nonetheless. And almonds are a great source of protein, fibre, vitamin E and phosphorous too. You’d be a bit nutty not to get onto them.
- Tahini or sesame seed paste: A tablespoon of tahini contains a decent hit of calcium. It’s certainly worth including in your diet if you have a low dairy intake. Add tahini to salad dressings and have it as a dip. Alternatively you could grind up some sesame seeds and spread the paste on sandwiches and the like. It has a delicious nutty flavour.
- Dark-green leafy vegetables: Regularly including vegetables like broccoli, bok choy, spinach and kale can help to boost your calcium intake. Add these vegetables to a tofu stir fry for a calcium-rich meal.
- Baked beans: Shane Warne was on the right track when he had baked beans shipped over to India all those years ago. They pack a nutritional punch containing not only calcium, but also a number of other nutrients. Include the “musical fruit” for breakfast with a slice of wholegrain toast, or open a can and dig in for a quick and easy, hearty in-between meals snack.
Meeting your calcium requirements doesn’t have to be hard. But you will need to pay close attention to your diet and make sure you regularly include calcium-rich foods. Your bones and pearly whites will thank you for it.