Boost your bone health with these tasty foods
By Cary Galloway
According to the Osteoporosis Society of Canada, there are 1.4 million Canadians who suffer from osteoporosis, a bone-weakening disease that leaves bones fragile and susceptible to fractures. You may know that calcium is a big factor in prevention, but how much do you really need and which foods deliver sufficient calcium to keep your bones healthy and strong?
Women between the ages of 19-50 need 1,000 mg of calcium per day, and women over 50 should be striving for 1,500 mg, according to The Osteoporosis Society of Canada. This may seem like a lot, but it’s actually fairly easy to reach your recommended daily intake if you choose the right foods. We’ve all been told that milk is the best source of calcium and, according to Health Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating, adults should consume 2-4 servings of dairy per day, but if you’re intolerant to dairy products or simply want to get calcium from other sources, read on:
10 great calcium sources
My dad’s favourite snack has always been a sardine sandwich and, as a kid, I would turn my nose up and think he was crazy. But Dad was on the right track because 3-1/2 oz. of sardines provide the body with 370 mg of calcium. That’s more than one cup of milk. Sardines should be eaten with their soft bones because the bones hold up to 50 per cent of the calcium of the fish.
Not only does yogurt provide you with beneficial bacterial cultures, which keep your immune system strong and your digestive tract healthy, it also provides a whopping 300 mg of calcium per 3/4 cup serving.
Salmon has been praised for its high content of omega-3 fatty acids, but it’s also a powerhouse when it comes to calcium. 3 oz. of salmon (with bones) delivers 180 mg of calcium and is a delicious alternative to chicken or meat for those nice summer barbeques.
4. Blackstrap molasses
There’s something comforting about some warm gingerbread with a nice cup of tea. It’s also comforting to know that the molasses that’s gone into the recipe contains 170 mg of calcium per serving.
Amaranth is one of the newest grains to hit health-food shelves, even though it’s been around for a while. You will see it in various cereals and crackers, but it’s even more delicious and nutritious when it’s made fresh at home. A 1/2 cup provides the body with 150 mg of calcium, and it’s a great alternative to pasta or rice when used as a side dish.
Tofu is a great alternative to chicken or beef in stir-fries, and is delicious when marinated in your favourite flavours. 3-1/2 oz. of tofu contains 125 mg of calcium and it’s also packed with isoflavones, which bring an abundance of health benefits your way.
Beans are good any time of year, whether in soup, a refreshing salad, comforting chili or on their own and they’re a great way to add fibre, protein and calcium to your diet. Whether you choose white beans, navy beans, chickpeas or another favourite, you’ll obtain anywhere from 60-100 mg of calcium per 1/2 cup serving.
Whether eaten alone, thrown in a salad or used as a crust on chicken or fish, almonds are one of the tastiest ways to reach your recommended daily intake of calcium. A handful (1/4 cup) of almonds contains 95 mg of calcium and are also a great source of fibre, protein and monounsaturated fats.
9. Sesame seeds
Sesame seeds bring so much flavour to any dish, especially when they’re roasted. They add a nice finish to any plate and are a fast and easy way to get some extra calcium. One tablespoon contains 90 mg of calcium, so next time you’re about to indulge in your favourite dinner, sprinkle a tablespoon or two on top.
10. Turnip greens
Here’s another great reason to add greens to your plate. Boiled turnip greens contain 95 mg of calcium per 1/2 cup serving, and okra, bok choy and broccoli follow with 35 to 50 mg per serving. Steam, roast or simply toss them into your next stir-fry and your bones will thank you.
It’s also important to remember that regular consumption of red meat; salt, caffeine, alcohol, saturated fats and carbonated soft drinks reduce or inhibit calcium absorption. Everything in moderation is a good rule of thumb, but if you follow this list, you’re on the right path to getting your daily dose of calcium.
Cary Galloway is a registered nutritional consulting practitioner (RNCP) and a certified nutritional practitioner. She has been working in the health field since 2001 when she obtained a degree in kinesiology and health promotion from Acadia University. Cary uses her knowledge in health, wellness and nutrition to provide guidance to individuals who want to improve their health.