Bone health is key to overall health. If your bones are not strong, then they can’t support your body and your daily activities. You may not realize, however, that calcium is for more than just your bones – it’s required for nearly every function in our bodies. Many degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis are the result of poor quality supplementation and an imbalanced diet.
We’ve grown to accept that we can only get our daily dose of calcium from conventional dairy and a daily calcium pill. This may be true to a certain extent, but we should focus on the whole food sources that are naturally loaded with the mineral. These plant-based foods don’t contain dairy but still help you reach your calcium requirements in an easy-to-assimilate – and delicious — way, while also providing a whole bunch of other minerals and nutrients. This is especially helpful for individuals that are intolerant or allergic to dairy.
You also don’t need to worry about exact measurements of calcium, especially if you are getting them from whole food sources. Just be sure to get a variety of the following items in your diet on a daily basis. This way you will be loaded with the right kind of calcium that your body will just love to soak up!
Six calcium-rich foods that might surprise you:
1. Green leafy veggies: Kale, chard, beet tops, collards, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, dandelion, mustard greens and bok choy
2. Root veggies: Parsnip, rutabaga, sweet potatoes, squash, okra
3. Nuts and seeds: Almonds, pine nuts, hemp seeds, sesame seeds
4. Bean, legumes and whole grains: Kidney beans, black beans, quinoa and amaranth
5. Fermented and organic soy: Tofu, tempeh, miso and edamame
6. Other sources: Carob, tahini, almond butter, sea vegetables*, cocoa, goji berries, figs and molasses
* Sea vegetables include arame, nori, dulse, wakame and kombu. They can be found at your local health food store or in the condiment section of your grocery store. Another great place to look is at authentic Asian markets.
Arame Soba Noodle Salad
1 tsp dried basil
½ tsp dried rosemary
½ tsp salt
8 oz. kamut or buckwheat soba noodles
½ cup arame (sea vegetable)
2 heads of bok choy, chopped into small pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp gingerroot, minced
¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ toasted sesame oil
3 tbsp tamari (natural soy sauce)
1 cup chopped green onions
1 carrot grated
1 cup of toasted pine nuts or black sesame seeds
1 cup organic shelled and cooked edamame beans (no pods)
1. Bring large pot of water to boil, add basil, rosemary and salt.
2. Add soba noodles, cook until al dente (8-10 minutes) rinse and drain.
3. Soak arame in 1 cup cold water for about 10 minutes, drain.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together garlic, ginger, vinegar, sesame oil and tamari.
5. Add warm noodles to sauce and toss to coat.
6. Stir in carrots, edamame, bok choy, onions and arame.
7. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts or sesame seeds.
Marni Wasserman is a culinary nutritionist in Toronto whose philosophy is stemmed around whole foods. She is dedicated to providing balanced lifestyle choices through natural foods. Using passion and experience, she strives to educate individuals on how everyday eating can be simple and delicious.