Perhaps one of the most important minerals in your body is calcium. In fact, calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body, with one percent being critical for cell signaling, nerve function, vasodilation and hormone secretion. The other ninety-nine percent is as a constituent of your skeleton, forming the fundamental structure of your bones and teeth.
Your body is constantly breaking down bone and developing new bone from the calcium that you consume. That’s why getting enough is so important. Lack of a substantial amount of dietary calcium can cause bone softening as you age and eventually cause osteoporosis.
Getting enough calcium can be tough, especially if you cannot or choose not to consume dairy products. The recommended amount of calcium per day for women between 19-50 years old is 1000 mg. That number jumps to 1200 mg for women 51 years and older.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
Here are six calcium-rich foods that might just surprise you…
1. Amazing Almonds
One ounce of almonds provides 74 mg of calcium, and let’s face it, who only eats one ounce. So go nuts. You don’t necessarily have to consume a whole cup to reap the benefits. Almonds make a great addition to salads and can also be ground and used as a crust to coat various meats. You can also opt for almond butter as a great alternative to peanut butter. Spread it on toast or bananas, mix it with your yogurt or toss it into your smoothie. There are many ways to add almonds into your menu, you just have to get creative.
2. Orange You Glad You Got More Calcium
When you think of calcium you don’t necessarily think of fruits. But as far as fruit goes, oranges are considered a very good source of calcium. One large orange contains 74 mg of calcium. Bring an orange to work for an easy snack or put some in your salad for a twist of citrus. Almost all commercial brands of orange juice are fortified with calcium as well. It’s a simple addition to your breakfast routine or any meal that shouldn’t be skipped!
A sweet snack for your taste buds, figs are another diverse food that can be paired with both sweet and savory foods. One medium fig contains 18 mg of calcium for as little as 37 calories. Make figs your go-to dessert or on the go snack.
4. Lean, mean, sardines
Sardines are the type of food you either love or you hate. There is rarely an in-between. However, if you’ve already crossed them off your list, you might want to reconsider. A 3 ounce can of sardines provides 325 mg of calcium. And like many other fatty fish, sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
5. Tasty Tofu
The beauty about tofu is the way it absorbs any flavor you pair it with. There are so many different ways to prepare it that it’s impossible to make it boring. A half cup of tofu made with calcium sulfate contains 253 mg of calcium, without the high cholesterol and fat content that animal protein contains. Even if it isn’t your first protein choice, try to include tofu in one of your meals at least once a week.
6. Thankful for garlic
It’s not only the Italians that are rejoicing. One clove of garlic provides 5 mg of calcium. It may seem like just a little bit, but garlic goes with almost every dish, and you’re sure to use more than a single clove. Garlic can be used in sauces, pastas, pizzas, alongside sautéed vegetables and even in homemade dressings. Add some flavor to your favorite recipe with fresh garlic and reap some unexpected benefits.
Calcium is an essential nutrient for good health. When you think calcium, don’t just think milk and dairy products. Consider incorporating these unexpectedly calcium-rich foods in your menus as often as you can.