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7 Foods To Boost Your Calcium Levels Without Dairy
  • Arati Shah

  • 02, Jan. 2020

7 Foods To Boost Your Calcium Levels Without Dairy

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in our body and plays a significant role in building human bones and teeth. It also has a major role to play in regulating heart beat and maintaining fluid balance. Not having enough calcium can increase the risk for osteoporosis as the bone mass is decreased. Under a clinical nutrition program, those with osteoporosis can be taught how to eat a balanced diet with sufficient calcium to manage osteoporosis. Medical nutrition therapy by the best dietitian in Mumbai will help evaluate the diet of the individual along with the health history to develop a food plan for a positive health outcome.  

Dairy is an important element of an Indian diet. Since childhood we have all been hearing how a tall glass of milk is important for calcium. Milk and its products are known for not only the good quality protein they provide but also the calcium with good bio availability. Besides these, dairy also has many other essential nutrients to offer.  

However, today milk is surrounded by a lot of controversy. Many say that it is inappropriate for us humans to consume milk as we are the only species that consumes milk in adulthood and more so from another animal. Compounded to this is the problem that many people cannot digest the milk sugar lactose and are what we call as lactose intolerant. With these beliefs there are many who have given up on dairy and dairy products.  

So, if you are one who feels the need to give up on dairy but are worried about how to get sufficient calcium in the diet be with us to understand how to do so. Many of us are not aware that our kitchens have many ingredients that are as good as dairy when it comes to their calcium content. Let’s take a look at some such foods: 

1. Vegetables: 

Leafy vegetables like colocassia leaves, spinach, kale, methi leaves, amaranth leaves, etc are rich in calcium. Tossing up these vegetables in your salads or simply cooking them and eating them with rotis / parathas can help you in adding calcium to your diet. However, many of these calcium rich foods are also high in oxalates that make calcium absorption difficult for your gut. Employing cooking techniques such as steaming or boiling vegetables before consumption can help in reducing the oxalate content.  

Vegetables like Chinese cabbage, broccoli and okra or lady’s finger provide with some calcium. Enjoy the crispiness of sauteed broccoli with a little oil and some herbs or in a salad or as a soup for the calcium it provides. Chinese cabbage can be used as a soup or in a salad or even in a rice. 

2. Sesame seeds:  

With as much as 90 mgs of calcium in just a tablespoon of sesame seeds, they could be an ideal choice for those who do not consume dairy. Besides calcium they also contain phosphorous which is an important mineral for bone health. Dry roast them and sprinkle them on salads, or add them to the tadka for dals and cooked vegetables.   

3. Ragi / Nachani: 

The tiny red seeds are an ancient Indian grain and are very often a part of an Indian diet for weight loss. Ragi or Nachani is naturally rich in calcium necessary for healthy bones. So, replacing your dairy with ragi porridge or making them into rotis or bhakris is a good way to add it to the diet. 

4. Pulses: 

Beans and pulses like kidney beans, chickpeas, whole moong, etcare a good source of calcium. They also provide significant amounts of zinc, folate and protein. Pulses can be added to your diet in interesting ways like hummus, rajma curry or even as a sprouts salad.  

5. Soy: 

Boiled green soybean, tofu and edamameare rich in calcium. Soy products are highly versatile and can be easily added to your daily meals. For example, edamame can be simply steamed and eaten by sprinkling sea salt to it, soft tofu can be replaced with recipes that need paneer, and boiled green soyabeans can be used as a pulse.  

6. Fish: 

Fish is always a good choice when it comes to calcium. Fish like sardines and salmon which are easily accessible and eaten with small bones can be a part of a calcium rich diet. They are also rich in protein and good fats. Add them to your salads, sushi or sandwiches to increase the taste and nutrient quotient. 

7. Almonds: 

Of all the nuts, almonds have found to be the richest in calcium. They also come along with good fiber, vitamin E, manganese, protein and above all the healthy fats. Consuming them raw or soaked or even sprinkling almond slivers over your Indian desserts or salads are easy ways to add them to your diet. Eat them in proportion and avoid going overboard as they are concentrated sources of calories. 

Women are more prone to calcium deficiency and hence to osteoporosis in comparison to men especially so when the estrogen levels decrease. The list above can benefit those if one chooses to follow a vegan diet. This will enable them to fulfil their daily calcium needs. Women in their child bearing years can consult a nutritionist offering a prenatal nutrition program for fulfilling their calcium needs. For peri menopausal or menopausal women, the best nutritionist in India for women can help plan a balanced diet with non dairy options for calcium. The above listed foods are easily accessible and can be effortlessly added to your diet and help you up your calcium levels.