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 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. 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.
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
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
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!
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…