11 High-Calcium Non-Dairy Foods
Whether you’re a vegan, lactose intolerant, or are simply trying to cut down your dairy intake, eating quality high-calcium foods is essential to overall health. The most abundant mineral in the body, calcium makes up much of your bones and teeth, and is necessary for proper muscle activity, nerve signaling, staving off osteoporosis, and general heart health.
And yet, it’s estimated that most adults aren’t consuming near enough calcium in their daily diets. According to healthline, it’s recommended that most adults consume at least 1,000 mg of calcium per day, though people over 70 should bump that up to 1,200 mg per day (as well as women over 50). Additionally, children under the age of 18 should be intaking at least 1,300 mg of calcium per day.
A tried and true method of intaking this much calcium is, of course, milk and other dairy products. In fact, it’s estimated that three 8-ounce glasses of milk contain the full recommended daily dose. But for those of us who aren’t so prone to chugging three glasses of milk in a row, or relying solely on supplements, how do we get our calcium?
Thankfully, this mineral is present in many healthy, non-dairy foods. In this article, we’ll go over 11 great foods to bump up your calcium intake with ease!
#1 – Chia seeds
Amount of Calcium: 2 tablespoons of chia seeds contain 179 mg of calcium.
Coming from the plant Salvia hispanica, chia seeds date back to ancient Aztec and Mayan times when they were a dietary staple known for their superb energy-providing qualities. In fact, chia is the Mayan word for strength and, in addition to the calcium, chia seeds contain 11 grams of fibre, 4 grams of protein, boron, and high amounts of manganese and magnesium.
Chia seeds are awesome for adding to smoothies or oatmeal. Check out these 10 smoothie supplements for more inspiration!
#2 – Almonds
Amount of Calcium: One cup of almonds contains 385 mg of calcium
Though almonds aren’t exactly a low-calorie food — 1 cup contains about 838 calories and 72 grams of fat — the same amount contains 385 mg of calcium; more than ⅓ the daily recommended amount.
For this reason, it’s best to spread out your calcium intake between almonds and other foods, but almonds are also awesome for fibre, magnesium, manganese, and vitamin E.
Almonds are also a popular non-dairy milk alternative. Check out this article for everything you need to know about choosing the best milk alternative for you!
#3 – Tofu
Amount of Calcium: Varied. Although tofu can be a great way to up your calcium intake, the amount depends on the brand. Tofu can range anywhere from 275mg – 861mg per half cup.
Made from soybeans, Tofu is not only a great source of calcium, but it’s also high in iron, phosphorus, protein, and it contains all the essential amino acids. But, due to discrepancies in the creation process, make sure to read the label so you get the best calcium bang for your buck.
Another great soybean source of calcium is edamame. Though not quite as high in the mineral as tofu, one cup (155 grams) contains roughly 100 mg of calcium. You can get edamame either frozen or shelled, and it is also a great source of proteins and amino acids.
#4 – Sunflower seeds
Amount of Calcium: 1 cup (128 grams) of sunflower seeds contains 109 mg of calcium.
Another high-nutrient food, raw sunflower seeds are not only high in calcium, but also magnesium, vitamin E, and copper — all great for bone strength. However, when choosing sunflower seeds, make sure you get a kind without any added salt. Salt depletes the levels of calcium in the body and works against the good nutrients.
#5 – Kale
Amount of Calcium: 1 cup (128 grams) of raw kale contains about 90 mg of calcium
A cruciferous vegetable, kale is a leafy green that is loaded with awesome nutrients. Low in calories (100 grams is only 35 calories) kale is not only a great source of calcium but it is also awesome for vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese, copper, and potassium.
Plus, there are so many ways to prepare kale — you can either have it as a salad, steam it up (although it does lose some nutrients with cooking), or pop it in a smoothie! Check out these smoothie recipes for some more inspiration.
#6 – Broccoli Rabe
Amount of Calcium: Broccoli rabe contains roughly 100 mg of calcium per 1 cup (128 grams)
Also known as rapini or broccoli raab, broccoli rabe is a bitter member of the Brassica vegetable family, interestingly enough more related to a turnip than broccoli. In addition to its calcium content, broccoli rabe is a great source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin E, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. This vegetable is also a prominent source of folate, which is an essential nutrient if you’re pregnant or plan to be.
However, fair warning that broccoli rabe is an extremely bitter vegetable. I highly recommend cooking this with different spices if you’re not up for its bitter qualities.
#7 – Sweet potatoes
Amount of Calcium: A large sweet potato contains 68 grams of calcium
A nutritious, yet starchy, food, sweet potatoes are not only known for their calcium content, but also for being high in the beta carotene antioxidant — which has been known to be effective in raising vitamin A levels. Additionally, they are rich in vitamin C, potassium, and are relatively low in fat and calories.
#8 – Oranges and orange juice
Amount of Calcium: A large orange contains 40-74 mg of calcium
A superfood that I don’t think gets enough attention, oranges are a great source of calcium, and even a better source of vitamin C. In fact, regardless of the type of orange you eat, you can rest assured that you’ll get more than your daily recommended dose of vitamin C — more than any other citrus.
Additionally, oranges are high in vitamin A and potassium which helps your body make collagen, boosts your immune system, helps fight macular degeneration, and helps fight cancer-causing free radicals. Just peel and eat!
Alternatively, though you certainly don’t get the fibre benefits, calcium-fortified orange juice is on the market and will raise your intake to about 300mg per glass.
#9 – Arugula
Amount of Calcium: 32mg of calcium per 128 grams
Belonging to the cruciferous family of leafy greens, arugula may not be the heaviest calcium hitter on this list, but because the vegetable contains a lot of water, it’s easy to eat multiple servings in one sitting, such as in a salad.
Arugula aso contains erucin, which has been shown to help ward off cancer and other diseases.
#10 – Sardines, Salmon, and Shrimp
Amount of Calcium: 85 grams of sardines contain 325mg, the same amount of salmon contains 180 mg, and the same amount of shrimp contains 125 mg of calcium
Due to the fact that you can eat the bones, sardines and canned salmon are fairly loaded with calcium, with just one can of sardines meeting 25% of the daily recommended intake.
These types of seafood are also loaded with protein, potassium, and magnesium.
#11 – Figs
Amount of Calcium: Roughly 8 figs contain 241 mg of calcium
Up for some figs? Awesome — figs are a sweet fruit that are awesome for upping your calcium, fiber, and antioxidant intake. The best part? They’re practically dessert in themselves and can be eaten whole or as jams.
Figs are also a great source of vitamin K and potassium.
That’s it for my 11 high-calcium non-dairy foods! Living life without dairy can feel tough, especially when it comes to eating in restaurants or having to read food labels. But with some research, getting all the nutrients you need is more than achievable. Let us know some of your favorite high-calcium foods in the comments!