I get parents asking me all of the time “What are some good alternatives to dairy?
Lots of you have kids or family members who are either vegan, lactose intolerant, or just don’t like dairy products It can be tough to get all the calcium you need each day.
It’s important that you don’t skimp on calcium as this important nutrient does more than strengthening bones—it also helps to regulate blood pressure and maintain a healthy heart.
If your body doesn’t get enough calcium, it will look for other sources in your body and start leeching calcium from your bones, leaving them brittle and weak.
The good news is that there’s a range of non-dairy foods that offer the 1,000 to 1,300 milligrams of calcium the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends you get daily. One advantage of plant-based calcium is that it ensures you’re eating lots of veggies—another important part of any diet.
It’s also important that you vary your sources of calcium, .and a good thing to note is that, vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Be sure that you and your child get enough of this supplement. The Government recommends getting 15 micro-grams of vitamin D per day.
Here are 4 great non-dairy sources of calcium
1. Green Vegetables
Dark green vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, Swiss chard, spinach, collard greens, and mustard greens have a good amounts of calcium. One cup of cooked spinach has nearly a 1/4 of your daily recommendation. Be aware that Spinach is the one of the “top” vegetables that may your body from absorbing calcium
I don’t want to discourage you from eating green vegetables, just make sure you’re getting calcium from other sources as well.
Did you know that sesame seeds are packed with calcium? A single tablespoon will give you around 88 mg., and in a whole cup, you’ll get more than a day’s worth of calcium . To get calcium from sesame seeds, I suggest trying tahini, which goes well with bread and salad. Or, try sprinkling sesame seeds onto a salad or into a stir-fry to incorporate more calcium into your meals. Flax seeds are another alternative to getting more calcium in your diet.
There are many healthy whole grain breads with seeds in them – take a look at Dave’s killer breads – they are tasty!
Nuts are another good source of calcium. Did you know that one cup of Brazil nuts has 213 mg? 1 cup of whole almonds has 378 mg which is more than a cup of milk?
Start snacking on nuts during the day or get your child to try almond butter (instead of peanut butter) in a sandwich at lunch. Doing this can give them at least a 1/4 of their recommended daily calcium intake.
Not only are dried herbs packed with flavor, they’re also a source of calcium. I was surprised to learn that a single tablespoon of ground thyme and ground oregano has 81 mg., while ground basil has 101 mg.
Try, sprinkling these calcium rich herbs on salads, cooked vegetables, or other dishes that you like.
Here’s to getting more calcium in your (and your child’s) diet.
What’s your favorite source of non-dairy calcium?