Of all the vitamins and minerals we’re told to fill up on in are day-to-day diet, calcium ranks high. I can still hear my dad’s frequent lecture in our kitchen when I was a kid about the importance of drinking milk so I didn’t end up with brittle bones later in life. Healthy adults need about 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day, while kids and older adults need even more to not only maintain bone health but also help with bodily functions like muscle contraction, nerve transmission, and blood clotting. So my dad was hardly wrong, but milk isn’t the only good source of calcium. While dairy — cheese and yogurt, included — is a major natural source, and probably the most well-known, it’s not the only one. Here are 3 more to consider:
1. Dark Leafy Greens
Greens like collards, kale, watercress, and spinach are all good sources of calcium. Though the amount varies depending on the type of green, you can get roughly about 25% of your daily calcium needs from a serving.
Keep things simple and sauté green as an easy side dish but also stir them into soups and stews or try enjoying them raw in a salad. Don’t forget they can be slipped into breakfast, too — I love tossing a handful into scrambled eggs to wilt them right before the eggs are done cooking.
Before you skip to the next item, hear me out: Sardines are delicious! I, too, was sardine averse up until a couple of years ago. The tiny tinned fish generally freaked me out but once I finally got the courage to try sardines, I realized I had been missing out. They’re rich, meaty, and oh-so flavorful. The secret to getting their full calcium benefit is to buy cans that still contain the bones. Sardines’ tiny, soft bones are edible and contain all their great calcium. In fact, you’ll get about 35% of your daily requirement from one can. Not sure exactly how to eat them? Try using them in place of tuna in your favorite tuna salad recipe for an easy entry in. Then once you learn to love them as much as I do, flake them on salads, add them to avocado toast, or even stir them into marinara sauce for a feel-good pasta dinner.
3. White Beans
Pretty much all beans and lentils have some calcium in them but white beans contain the most. One cup of cooked white beans contains about 13% of your daily needs while others contain just 4-6%. Since white beans are one of the more popular beans around, that’s great news. I am a huge fan of marinating a few drained cans of them at the start of the week to enjoy as-is, on salads, on toast, and tossed with cooked grains for easy lunches and dinners. Or I’ll toss a drained can with some pesto or salsa and use the mix as a bed for a runny fried egg for a quick and satisfying breakfast.