Nutrition

How to add more calcium to your vegan diet

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baby kale and beets salad

Image: Svitlana Pimenov/Shutterstock

Calcium is an extremely important nutrient that helps our bodies grow strong, healthy bones. Not only does it keep us fit, it also improves nerve and muscle function, as well as aids in blood clotting. While the conception is that milk and other bovine dairy products are the best source to find calcium, there are actually plenty of common calcium-rich plant foods to eat as well. Luckily for vegans, these plants are abundant, easy to cook with, and are found in most local grocery stores around the country.

According to Harvard Health, adults need around 500 to 700 milligrams of calcium per day, which is absolutely possible in a whole foods vegan diet. Harvard Health also proposes that too much calcium could lead to a higher risk of kidney stones and heart attack, based on independent studies conducted by the Women’s Health Initiative and another in New Zealand. That’s good news to vegans, who needn’t turn to calcium supplements to achieve earlier recommendations of 1000 milligrams per day.

Ready to jumpstart your healthful calcium intake? Check out this roundup of the best calcium-rich plant foods and how you can prepare them creatively and deliciously!

Blackstrap Molasses

Blackstrap molasses, a byproduct of the sugar refining process, has huge amounts of calcium at 200 milligrams per tablespoon. While some enjoy the taste raw, there are so many ways to incorporate this natural sweetener into your diet.

Collard Greens

Some might think collard greens are only for Southerners, but that’s not true! This leafy green’s calcium content is abundant, which makes it an important source of nutrition for all types of vegans. You can get 357 milligrams of calcium from only one cup. Here are a few ways to prepare them:

Soybeans

A snack on it’s own or an easy addition to rice dishes, soybeans are an excellent source of calcium. One cup of cooked soybeans equals roughly 175 milligrams of calcium, so keep reaching for that edamame on sushi night!

Almond Butter

An unlikely source of calcium, almond butter is so easy to eat, you could practically lick it off the spoon! And with 111 milligrams of calcium in two tablespoons, this spread is the perfect quick fix.

Okra

Another classic Southern delicacy, okra has great health benefits as well! These nutrient-rich greens have 135 milligrams of calcium per cup, so feel free to eat as much fried okra as you want! But really, there are plenty of ways to prepare okra without the deep fryer!

Kale

This trendy green is popular for a reason. The calcium-rich plant has 179 milligrams in every cooked cup! Test out some of these recipes to help break down the love it or hate it taste.

Mandy Burkholder is a travel, adventure, and outdoor writer who honed her craft in the foothills of the La Plata Mountains of Southwest Colorado. After a stint in the Swiss Alps, she now resides in Tennessee. Follow her on twitter — @mandyburkhold3r