There’s a range of non-dairy foods that offer 1,000-1,300 mg of calcium which the USDA recommends to get daily. However, eating plant based foods can bind calcium and prevent a person from absorbing it. Here are a few examples of non-dairy foods that offer calcium…
Green Vegetables:: Dark green vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, Swiss chard, spinach, collard greens, and mustard greens have a fair amount of calcium. One cup of cooked spinach, for instance, has 245 mg., nearly a quarter of your daily recommendation. But be careful because spinach is the one of the “top” vegetables whose compounds can prevent calcium absorption.
Seeds:: Tiny sesame seeds are packed with calcium. Just 1 tablespoon will give you 88 mg., and in a whole cup, you’ll get more than a day’s worth—1,404 mg. Since most people don’t eat sesame seeds by the cup, you can also try tahini, a Mediterranean sesame paste, which goes well with bread and salad. Otherwise, sprinkling a spoonful of sesame seeds onto a salad or stir-fry everyday can give you a nice calcium boost. Flax seeds are also good—a cup will give you 428 mg.
Nuts:: Nuts are an excellent source of calcium. One cup of Brazil nuts has 213 mg., and 1 cup of whole almonds has 378 mg., more than a cup of milk, which has 299 mg. Snacking on these throughout the day or eating almond butter (instead of peanut butter) in a sandwich at lunch can give you at least a quarter of your recommended daily calcium intake.
Herbs:: Dried herbs are not only packed with flavor—they’re surprisingly calcium dense, too. One tablespoon of ground thyme has 81 mg., and the same measurement of ground oregano has 86 mg., while ground basil has 101 mg. Although you won’t be eating these by the bucketful, sprinkling them on salads, cooked vegetables, or other dishes will certainly help you get to your 1,000 mg. target.
Soy:: Soy is the go-to protein source for many vegetarians and vegans, but it also contains lots of calcium. Just 1 ounce of tofu (which usually comes in 12.5-oz. packages) has 105 mg. And depending on which brand you buy, soymilk usually has between 200 and 500 mg. of calcium per cup. Like spinach, soy contains a compound that inhibits calcium absorption, but manufacturers typically use additives to give their products a calcium boost.
Supplements:: If you’re having trouble reaching your target goal of the recommended 1,000-1,300 mg of calcium each day, it’s important to reach for a supplement to prevent a deficiency. Food manufacturers are also making it easier to add calcium to certain products to maximize absorption.
Written By: Caitlin Yoshiko Kandil