It is a common belief that dairy products are the only rich source of calcium for our bodies. From our very childhood, we are compelled to drink a glass of milk on daily basis to substantiate the requirement of calcium in our body. Whether we liked milk or not, we rarely had a choice. However, have we ever thought about people with lactose intolerance or vegan-friendly options that could help replenish the need for calcium in the body? Well, nature has given us the solution to that. There are plenty of other food items that are an abundant source of calcium and simultaneously vegan friendly too. Read on to know more.
Why is calcium so important for our body?
We are all aware that calcium is an essential nutrient to maintain the health of our bones, teeth and nails. It also ensures the proper functioning of our muscles, cells and nerves. Furthermore, calcium also plays a crucial role in the prevention of osteoporosis and cancer. The need for calcium typically differs from person to person. However, normally, an adult aged somewhere between 19 to 50 years of age, would require 1000 milligrams of it on daily basis. That is approximately three 8 ounces of milk consumption daily.
Dairy products and by-products
Dairy products and by-products such as milk, cheese, yoghurt and supplements are certainly the best sources of calcium. These are readily available for consumption. Today, if we go to any supermarket, confectionery store or even online, we will find many varieties and brands, manufacturing these dairy products and the best part is that they are hygienic and without any adulteration. But what really matters and the topic of discussion in this blog is, what food products can be adopted by those who are vegan!
Calcium-rich alternatives to dairy products
As mentioned earlier, nature, indeed, has given us the solution to all problems. There are many plant-based foods that also offer the same quantity and quality of calcium as any regular dairy product would. In this blog, we shall look at our eight handpicked, alternative sources of calcium that are not only common but apt for lactose intolerant and are vegan friendly too. These foods offer a rich source of calcium and contain nothing that is animal based:
Almonds are one of the richest sources of calcium. One cup of almonds provides 385 mg of calcium. This quantity is more than the recommended amount of calcium, our body needs on daily basis by one-third proportion, being provided by almonds themselves. However, simultaneously, almonds also give away 838 grams of calories and 72 grams of fat. Fats are monosaturated and as such are good to go for intake but the calories must be kept in check.
Broccoli, when consumed in frozen form, provides 87 mg of calcium. Any diet with broccoli is a good source of nutrition and can counterattack the risks of cancer. Medical tests on animals have shown that the various compounds present in broccoli can effectively help in the prevention of breast, bladder, colon, liver and stomach cancers. However, tests on humans are yet to determine these results.
Chia seeds are considered to be rich in calcium. In fact, two tablespoons of chia seeds offer 170 mg of calcium. Chia contains the element boron, which is instrumental in metabolizing calcium, magnesium and phosphorus for the promotion of healthy bones, muscles and teeth.
Figs are great in taste and at the same time, figs are a good source of antioxidants and fibre. They can be consumed by blending them with smoothies or by eating them raw. One cup of dried figs offers 241 mg of calcium typically.
Tofu is considered to be an excellent source of calcium altogether. But, what has been noticed is that the content of calcium at times differs, depending upon the brand and the firmness. The quantity of calcium can vary from 275 to 861 mg per half cup of tofu. While buying tofu, it is imperative to check whether it contains calcium salt or not. The ones that contain calcium salt, are the best to use.
A cup of sunflower seeds gives away 109 mg of calcium. The seed kernels are a trusted source of calcium. Furthermore, the sunflower seeds also contain magnesium which creates a healthy balance between the effects of calcium to offer strong muscle and nerve health and functionality. Sunflower seeds also contain vitamin E and copper and all these nutrients, when combined together promote excellent bone health by giving them strength and flexibility. For best results, one must consume raw and unsalted sunflower seeds. Also, excessive intake must be avoided to keep a check on the calories as sunflower seeds have a high-calorie count.
Consumption of one tablespoon of sesame seeds can add up to 88 mg of good calcium in a lactose-intolerant or vegan diet. Sesame seeds are rich in copper and zinc which are both essential for sound and strong bone health. Studies have also revealed that sesame seeds can, to a certain extent offer relief from knee osteoarthritis.
Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins A and C and also offer potassium. One large sweet potato provides a total of 68 mg of calcium. Vitamin A in sweet potatoes works brilliantly as an antioxidant that not only promotes good vision and works as an anti-ageing agent but helps in preventing cancer too. Being naturally low in calories and fats, they are a popular food item as a side dish in many countries.
Although calcium is a mandatory mineral for the body and is easily available for consumption, one must still be conscious about its count in terms of calories, while consumption. If unsure, a consultation with a dietician would help. One must try to aim to consume two to three servings of calcium from plant-based sources as well. In case of the non-fulfilment of the required proportion of calcium on daily basis, one can opt for a dietary supplement after consulting with a doctor.
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