The Top 5 Surprising Sources of Calcium

Part of a well-balanced diet means making sure that your body receives the right amount of energy for its needs and nourishing it with a medley of vitamins and minerals . To help you on your quest for healthy eating, we are running a series of posts highlighting foods that are the best source of a specific nutrient or mineral. In today’s inaugural post, we will look for the best sources for calcium…

Calcium is a mineral, but before we jump into what calcium is all about, lets introduce minerals in general. Minerals are needed in your body to assist with physiological functions such as controlling hormones, supporting growth, and in structural roles. Unlike the proteins, fats, and carbohydrates which provide the energy to be consumed by your body, minerals don’t contain energy and don’t get broken down by the body. They can be stored by the body for long periods of time, and can withstand elements that usually degrade vitamins.

Even if you don’t consider yourself health-conscious you have probably heard at one point or another that calcium is important for your health. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body – it’s found in your bones and teeth, plays a vital role in muscle contraction (aka movement) and blood clotting, helps blood vessels relax and constrict, transmits nerve impulses to and from the brain, and regulates enzyme activity, cell membrane function and blood pressure. Daily recommended intake values for calcium vary for different groups. The daily recommended allowance for adult males and females is 1,000 milligrams, for pregnant and lactating women, and children and teens between 1,000-1,300 milligrams, and for seniors between 1,000-1,2000 milligrams.

And now for the best sources of calcium see the series of pictures below along with some recipes incorporating the ingredient!

Blackstrap Molasses

Source: The Kitchn

Blackstrap molasses contain 400 milligrams of calcium in just two tablespoons. Just for some perspective an entire cup (8 oz.) of skim milk contains 300 milligrams! “What the heck is this goo?” are you asking…

Well, it’s actually a derivative of sugar cane. It’s the byproduct left over from making refined table sugar. It has a strong, bitter taste and is often described as being a viscous syrup. Blackstrap molasses can be used as a sugar substitute for hot drinks and in baked goods, or even for preparing savory dishes like baked beans, chili, pulled pork, and baked chicken. It can also be used as a tonic when mixed with water.

Check out this recipe for bittersweet granola.

Sardines

Sardines

Sardines. They come in a can. You can open them up.  And then eat them immediately. At 325 milligrams of calcium per three ounce serving, calcium can’t be much easier to come by than that.  Even making a meal around sardines is pretty simple!

Check out this recipe for a zesty sardine sandwich by mmm What’s for Dinner?

For a more adventurous use of sardines this recipe for sardine rillettes.

Turnip Greens

Who would have thought that the greens from a root vegetable could be a good source of calcium? One cup of cooked turnip greens contains 197 milligrams of calcium. That’s pretty decent for a green veggie. What’s even more surprising is the minuscule amount of calories contained in that cup of greens – 29 to be exact. That’s like eating seven jelly beans… or less than half a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

Now for a tasty recipe try braising your greens in garlic (make sure you are using turnip greens to get your calcium).

Plain, low-fat yogurt

Low fat plain yogurt

Source: Livestrong

Okay, okay so this one might not come as a surprise, but since it was such a good source we had to add it to the list! Plain low-fat yogurt is a calcium queen, containing 415 milligrams of calcium in an 8 ounce serving. For those of you who love the plain tart flavor, by all means dig in. But if you find yourself needing to combat the taste of plain yogurt, just add in a tablespoon of sweetener like honey, silan (date honey), or fruit preservatives.

If dessert is what your looking for check out this easy fruit and yogurt parfait recipe from the Food Network. Who would of thought you can pack so much calcium into dessert?

Mozzarella and Cheddar Cheese

mozzarella

cheddar cheese

We know, this is another source that may not be all that surprising.  But all you pizza lovers out there will surely be thrilled to hear that mozzarella and cheddar cheese made the cut! 1.5 ounces of part skim mozzarella cheese contains 333 milligrams of calcium while the same amount of cheddar contains 307 milligrams. I’ll have a slice to that! Check out this low carb tortilla pizza-not only is it tasty but it’s easy to make too!

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This wraps up part one in our “best source of” series. Were you surprised? Want to add something to the list? Comment below and let us know…

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  • BridgetteRD

    I’ve been lactose intolerant since I was 11, so I’m always looking for alternative calcium sources. Doctor’s always tell me to take supplements, but as an RD, I prefer to source my calcium through my diet. Three of my favorites (besides what is mentioned above) are almonds, white beans, and (non-gm) tofu. Per serving, tofu (prepared with calcium sulfate) has almost the same amount of calcium as a glass of milk. Some other interesting sources are figs, broccoli and sesame seeds.

  • Brian Klein

    If you eat plenty of veggies, you really have no need for dairy or (dead) milk.(Pasteurization kills off much of what is good about dairy. there are plenty of raw cheeses on the market that would have some calcium in them.)

    Another good source of calcium is homemade bone broth.

    • LamL

      Pasteurization doesn’t kill minerals (ie. calcium). As discussed in the article, minerals “can withstand elements that usually degrade vitamins”

      • Brian Klein

        Didn’t mean to infer that the calcium is destroyed… it’s not. There are plenty of other enzymes and beneficial bacteria that are destroyed, however.

  • Carrie @ Carrieonvegan

    I’d recommend kale and sesame seeds (or tahini) for excellent plant-based sources of calcium, without any of the unwanted nasties that come from dairy sources.

    • paula@spectrumfoodpuzzle

      i am so glad that we are putting a good word in for kale, sesame seeds, and almonds. we don’t have to eat as much dairy as the amrican dairy society would have us believe.

  • Carol H

    Note that regular yogurt has more calcium than “Greek” (unless added back, of course).

  • LamL

    What about bioavailability of various calcium sources? Isn’t it true that calcium in dark leafy greens is less available to our bodies due to the high iron content of these foods as compared to dairy sources of calcium which our body can more readily absorb?

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      We’ll address that in an upcoming post.

  • http://www.healthy-lifestyle-trainer.com/ Mike Luque

    Really good post and a great idea for a series.
    Last night I was researching food sources of the trace mineral found in table & sea salt. No where I looked mentioned blackstrap molasses. Thanks for bringing it up. I just grabbed my rarely used bottle of it and LO! one tablespoon also provides 10% of the DV of potassium and 20% each of vitamin A and iron.
    Now I gotta start researching recipes using this little nugget of nutrition.
    I wonder if it would be good in my yogurt??

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      Thanks Mike!
      Try the yogurt idea and let us know…

  • eve

    Broccoli and banana