We all know that calcium is essential for good bone health. Since our kinder years, it has been drilled into us that calcium comes from cows, and I’m sure we can all recite the 3 recommended servings of dairy per day. The problem with this recommendations is that it doesn’t take into account the fact that dairy, alongside beef, is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions (see Flexitarian – Sustainable Choices). Don’t get me wrong, I love my yogurt and kefir, and I do feel that dairy can have an important role in nutrition. But if you are like me, and struggle to get in your ‘three recommended serves of dairy’, then maybe its time to start looking at other non-dairy sources of calcium to ensure we are meeting the recommended targets for bone health.
Top 10 Surprisingly Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium
For the general adult population, we should be aiming for 1000mg of calcium per day. For reference sake, a glass of dairy milk has ~300mg of calcium. Here are my top 10 surprisingly non-dairy source of calcium.
- Soybeans, cooked 1 cup – 175mg
- Figs, 5 – 88-137mg
- Navy Beans, cooked 1 cup – 127mg
- Collard Greens, 1/2 cup cooked – 113mg
- Black beans, cooked 1 cup – 46-`102mg
- Kale, raw 1/2 cup – 90mg
- Seaweed, raw 1/2 cup – 67mg
- Sesame Tahini, hulled – 50mg
- Chia Seeds, 2 tbsp. – 142mg
- Oranges, 1 medium – 52mg
Note: For beans and nuts, the calcium absorption can be maximised by soaking the food before consumption.
For more information on non-dairy sources of calcium and the role calcium has to play for bone health see Maximising Calcium For Bone Health on a Dairy Free Diet. More information on dairy free milk alternatives can be found here Milk Alternatives, Finding The Best One For You.
Rachel Dickens, The Conscious Dietitian, is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She graduated with her Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2010 from Griffith University. She strives to provide evidence-based nutrition information with a focus on plant-based nutrition, and share some of her favourite seasonal recipes and sustainable eating tips.