5 Calcium-rich Plants

Updated: Oct 26, 2021




65–70% of the world's population are lactose intolerant[1], with people not realizing that the little discomforting feelings they go through are due to milk, cheese and butter. bloating, belching, rumbling-grumbling stomach, and flatulence are seen as a normal way of life. Many are unaware that common conditions like asthma, eczema, and acne[2] are rooted in their dairy consumption.


So why is dairy so popular despite its side effects?

For calcium!!


We have been raised to believe that dairy is the one true sauce for calcium if we want strong bones and healthy teeth but this is simply not true, Observational studies have shown that increased dairy intake can have no effect on bone health[3] or may even be harmful in some cases [4].


More than the amount of calcium in a particular food, what really matters is how much it can be absorbed by our bodies. This is known as bioavailability.


Calcium Bioavailability: Plants vs. Dairy

Food high in calcium(Ca) does not necessarily mean that all the calcium will be absorbed by our bodies. The Ca in different foods is absorbed at different rates depending on many factors.


Although plant foods may have slightly less calcium than dairy per cup, it does not mean that it is inferior to dairy. Quite the opposite! greens have a higher calcium bioavailability than dairy.


The bioavailability of Ca is about 30%, in comparison to 50% for plant foods. For example, if a food label lists milk as having 300mg of calcium per cup, around 100mg of that calcium will be absorbed by our body. Bok choy on the other hand contains around 160mg of calcium per cup, and our bodies would absorb approximately 80mg.


if a food label lists milk as having 300mg of calcium per cup, around 100mg of that calcium will be absorbed by our body. bok-choy on the other hand contains around 160mg of calcium per cup, and our bodies would absorb approximately 80mg.

The table below lists the amount of calcium you can get from just one cup of each plant:

[5] [6] [7]




These plant sources can give you more calcium than a glass of milk without the acoustic and aromatic side effects ;-)


The 5 Plant Foods:


1. Collard Greens

Also known as “borekale” in Australia, collard greens are a nutritious superfood. All leafy greens are an excellent source of calcium, and it is not limited to collard greens. Kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, mustard greens, and other brassica vegetables are packed with highly absorbable calcium, along with an abundance of other healthful nutrients[8]. Brassica vegetables in particular can have a slightly higher absorption rate.

The Ca may be diluted if the vegetables are boiled in water. The best method to prepare the vegetables would be to stir fry them[10].


The Ca may be diluted if the vegetables are boiled in water. The best method to prepare the vegetables would be to stir fry them.

2. Dried uncooked figs



On average, figs contain calcium 3.2 times higher than other fruits. Just like leafy greens, fruits in general, is a good source of calcium. A comprehensive list of the different types of dried and fresh fruits with high calcium content can be found through online searches.




On average, figs contain calcium 3.2 times higher than other fruits.


3. Tofu & Soybeans

Legumes in general are loaded with calcium, so it is no surprise that soybeans are included in the list. Soybean protein itself has been found to bind with calcium elements and promote calcium intake in our bodies[11]. Soybean products such as soymilk, tempeh and tofu contain a decent amount of calcium.





Soybean protein itself has been found to bind with calcium elements and promote calcium intake in our bodies.

4. Oats



Half a cup of dried oats will give you 200mg of calcium, which means your morning bowl of oats would be equivalent to a glass of milk. The calcium absorption rate is high from oats.


Oat has an excellent supply of nutrients, including fiber, zinc, iron and magnesium. They are a versatile food and are easy to prepare in the kitchen.


Interestingly, the high iron content in oats makes it a popular food choice amongst breastfeeding women. Oat cookies are often consumed by lactating mothers to increase their production of milk [12].


your morning bowl of oats would be equivalent to a glass of milk.

5. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are an extraordinary superfood. They have a low-glycemic index, they can help you maintain your energy levels and they can even help improve stamina and endurance[13].


Chia seeds can provide us with up to 631mg[14] of Ca in 100g, which means around three tablespoons of chia seeds will have more calcium than a glass of milk!


The bioavailability of that calcium content within the chia seeds can be rather low, due to the high amount of anti-nutrients[15] (such as phytate and lectin) that can cause our bodies not to soak up the nutrients.


A suggested method is soaking your chia seeds overnight to improve the bioavailability of the calcium in the seeds[16].


around three tablespoons of chia seeds will have more calcium than a glass of milk!

The daily recommendation of calcium:


 

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Reference list


[1] Bayless, TM, Brown, E & Paige, DM 2017, ‘Lactase Non-persistence and Lactose Intolerance’, Current Gastroenterology Reports, vol. 19, no. 5. <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28421381/>


[2] Top 7 Foods That Can Cause Acne 2018, Healthline, <https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-that-cause-acne#:~:text=Dairy%20Products>


[3] Feskanich, D, Willett, WC, Stampfer, MJ & Colditz, GA 1997, ‘Milk, dietary calcium, and bone fractures in women: a 12-year prospective study’, American journal of public health, vol. 87, no. 6, pp. 992–7 <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9224182>


[4] Cumming, RG & Klineberg, RJ 1994, ‘Case-Control Study of Risk Factors for Hip Fractures in the Elderly’, American Journal of Epidemiology, vol. 139, no. 5, pp. 493–503 <https://academic.oup.com/aje/article-abstract/139/5/493/82678?redirectedFrom=fulltext>


[5] UCSF Health 2019, Calcium Content of Foods, ucsfhealth.org, UCSF Health. <https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/calcium-content-of-foods>


[6] Raw Vegetable Calcium content n.d. uvm.edu <http://www.uvm.edu/~jdion/pets/veggie.ca.bymg.html>


[7] Bellefonds, C de 2016, 7 Foods with More Calcium Than a Glass of Milk, Women’s Health, <https://www.womenshealthmag.com/food/g19924661/foods-with-more-calcium-than-milk/>


[8] Calcium and Strong Bones 2011, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, <https://www.pcrm.org/good-nutrition/nutrition-information/health-concerns-about-dairy/calcium-and-strong-bones>


[9] Lv, Y, Liu, H, Ren, J, Li, X & Guo, S 2013, ‘The positive effect of soybean protein hydrolysates—calcium complexes on bone mass of rapidly growing rats’, Food & Function, vol. 4, no. 8, pp. 1245–1251, <https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2013/FO/C3FO30284A>


[10] Theobald, HE 2005, ‘Dietary calcium and health’, Nutrition Bulletin, vol. 30, no. 3, pp. 237–277 <https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/j.1467-3010.2005.00514.x>


[11] Leonard, J. 2019. Foods that help lactation: Diet tips and recipes. Medical News Today. <https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324290>


[12] Rendón-Villalobos, JR & Flores-Huicochea, E 2016, ‘Chia as a food ingredient’, Salvia Hispanica L.: Properties, Applications and Health, <https://ipn.elsevierpure.com/es/publications/chia-as-a-food-ingredient>


[13] Calcium Rich Foods: Foods that contain more calcium than a glass of milk 2020, The Times of India <https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/food-news/foods-that-contain-more-calcium-than-a-glass-of-milk/photostory/79443484.cms?picid=79443562>


[14] Are anti-nutrients harmful? 2019, The Nutrition Source, <https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/anti-nutrients/>

[15] Cross, M 2021, Chia Seeds — Worthy Superfood, or Just Plain Silly?, ILLUMINATION-Curated, <https://medium.com/illumination-curated/chia-seeds-just-plain-silly-or-worthy-superfood-668a6c183c3e>


[16] Better Health Channel 2013, Calcium, Vic.gov.au. <https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/calcium>


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