Calcium is essential for general health. Most adults aged 19–50 require 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States. This amount of calcium is present in about three 8-ounce glasses of milk.
Milk, cheese, and yogurt are the best sources of calcium, but many nondairy foods are also rich in the mineral. In this article, we describe 18 plant-based sources of calcium.
Calcium-rich foods for vegans and people who do not consume dairy
The following foods are rich in calcium and contain no animal-based products.
1. Chia seeds
A single ounce, or 2 tablespoons, of chia seeds provide 179 mg of calcium.
Chia also contains boron, which promotes the health of bones and muscles by helping the body to metabolize calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium.
Add chia seeds to smoothies or mix them into oatmeal or yogurt for a little added crunch.
2. Soy milk
One cup of fortified soy milk contains about the same amount of calcium as the equivalent of cow’s milk. It is important to choose a product that is fortified with calcium carbonate.
Soy milk is also rich in vitamin D, and it contains less saturated fat than whole milk with lactose.
Just 1 cup of whole almonds contains 385 mg of calcium, which is more than one-third of the recommended daily amount.
However, the same serving also contains 838 calories and almost 72 grams of fat.
While the fat is mostly healthful and monounsaturated, the calorie count is high, and a person should limit their intake to smaller portions of a quarter cup per serving, for example.
4. Dried figs
About eight figs, or 1 cup, provides 241 mg of calcium.
Figs make a great sweet treat and are rich in fiber and antioxidants. Try them as a midday snack or crush them into a creamy jam.
A single cup of sunflower seed kernels contains 109 mg of calcium.
These seeds are also rich in magnesium, which balances the effects of calcium in the body and regulates nerve and muscle health.
In addition, sunflower seed kernels contain vitamin E and copper.
Together, these nutrients can promote bone strength and flexibility and prevent bone loss.
However, sunflower seeds can contain high amounts of added salt, which depletes the body’s levels of calcium. For optimal health benefits, choose raw, unsalted seeds.
Also, consider a single serving to be about one handful of kernels, to avoid excessive calorie intake.
8. Broccoli rabe
Broccoli’s bitter cousin, broccoli rabe, contains 100 mg of calcium per cup.
Many recipes aim to tone down and complement the intense flavor of this hearty vegetable.
One cup of frozen, prepared edamame contains 98 mg of calcium.
Available fresh or frozen and shelled or in pods, edamame contain high-quality proteins and all nine essential amino acids.
One large sweet potato contains 68 mg of calcium. These vegetables are also rich in potassium and vitamins A and C.
Vitamin A is an important antioxidant that may promote good eyesight, resistance to the effects of aging, and cancer prevention.
Sweet potatoes are naturally low in fat and calories. They are popular as a side dish in some parts of the world.
14. Mustard and collard greens
Raw collard greens contain 84 mg of calcium per cup, and they are rich in other vitamins and minerals.
Raw mustard greens are also a significant source of nutrients, and they contain 64 mg of calcium per cup.
A single cup of raw okra contains 82 mg of calcium. Okra is also a significant source of protein, fiber, iron, and zinc.
Many people enjoy the vegetable boiled, fried, pickled, or roasted.
16. Oranges and orange juice
One large orange contains 74 mg of calcium, while a single glass of calcium-fortified orange juice contains 300 mg
17. Butternut squash
Butternut squash contains 84 mg of calcium per cup.
The same serving also provides 31 mg of vitamin C, which is more than one-third of the recommended daily amount. The NIH recommend that men consume 90 mg and women consume 75 mg of the vitamin per day.
Butternut squash is also rich in vitamin A, and there are many versatile recipes.
Another cruciferous vegetable, arugula, contains 32 mg of calcium per cup.
This may not seem like an impressive figure, but arugula contains a lot of water, and it is low in calories, at 5 calories per cup.
A person may eat 3 or 4 cups per serving, boosting the overall calcium intake.
Arugula also contains high amounts of a compound called erucin, which may combat cancer.
Calcium is an important mineral that is easy to obtain through the diet. Aim to consume 2 or 3 servings of plant-based calcium per day.
Anyone unable to meet their daily calcium requirement should talk to a doctor about taking a supplement.
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