Growing up, I always drank a lot of milk, because I had to to build strong bones, duh. So imagine my horror and surprise when I first became interested in the Paleo diet and found out that I had to give up my precious dairy.
How on Earth was I going to get enough calcium in my diet without eating milk, yogurt and cheese?
There’s no doubt that milk is packed full of calcium — one cup packs almost 300 milligrams. However, there are plenty of calcium rich foods that pack the same punch as milk without the unhealthy attributes like lactose and inflammation.
What exactly is calcium? Calcium is an essential element for human survival. Calcium is found in your body naturally — more so than any other mineral — but your body is not capable of producing it on its own. So when you lose calcium every day through processes like sweating and going to the bathroom, your body relies on your diet to replenish the calcium it needs.
Your body relies on calcium to build strong bones and to maintain a strong connection between your brain and other parts of your body. Your body also relies on calcium to perform processes such as making your muscles contract, keeping your teeth healthy and making your blood clot as well.
10 Calcium Rich Foods That Are Better For You Than Milk
If you aren’t eating broccoli, now is the time to start. Broccoli is packed full of calcium, fiber and healthy vitamins. Not only that, it’s super easy to cook and can be prepared about a million different ways.
Still feeling a little weird about it? Start with baby steps — incorporate broccoli into a casserole or salad. Add some salt or melted ghee. Try cooking it a few different ways — boiling, steaming and roasting. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.
One cup of broccoli packs over 70 milligrams of calcium.
2. Sesame Seeds
Fun facts about sesame seeds: The phrase “open sesame” originated from the way a sesame seed pod opens once it’s reached full maturity and a quarter of a cup of sesame seeds contain more calcium than an entire cup of milk. Wow!
You may be familiar with sesame seeds from your favorite local Chinese restaurant — sesame chicken anyone? — or your favorite burger joint, but these diverse little devils can be easily used in your own kitchen for a variety of dishes.
You can add toasted sesame seeds to almost any vegetable, meat or salad for a crunchy and nutritious boost or add them as an ingredient in your next batch of hummus or chip dip. The different ways to eat sesame seeds are innumerable and the health benefits are definite.
Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand for the past five years, you probably already know that kale is a superfood.
Kale is famous for being nutrient dense and scoring a perfect 1000 on the ANDI index. It’s packed with vitamins and minerals including, you guessed it, calcium!
One cup of kale packs almost 100 milligrams of calcium. So the next time you munch down on a salad, remember that you’re building strong bones in the process!
Clam ya hardly believe it? Clams are packing over 100 milligrams of calcium per dozen.
Don’t live next to the ocean? Unfortunately, we weren’t all born mermaids, but luckily for us, most grocery stores and markets sell canned clams and if you examine your ingredients carefully, you can find pretty wholesome versions.
Canned clams can easily be mixed into a salad or eaten by themselves. Try twice-baking them or roasting them with your favorite seafood seasoning for a fresh taste.
Almonds are really the real MVP…whether it’s a yummy afternoon snack, almond butter before a workout or unsweetened almond milk in my coffee each morning, these little buggers have made my life much easier when it comes to eating clean.
As if we didn’t already love them enough, now we know that two dozen almonds contains 70 milligrams of calcium. Just more of a reason to keep on keeping on with the almond love!
As if you needed a reason to incorporate more of this tropical fruit into your diet, one orange contains upwards of 50 milligrams of calcium, which is almost double what most other fruits contain.
Now, we still would not personally recommend going out and eating a dozen oranges a day. Despite their many nutritional benefits, oranges still pack a ton of sugar, meaning these are great for a pre-workout snack, but limit your fruit intake for optimum health!
7. Mustard and Turnip Greens
In case you haven’t noticed a pattern, if it’s green and grows out of the ground, it’s probably good for you. Mustard and turnip greens are no exception.
Both types of greens pack over 100 milligrams of calcium per cup and can be cooked about a billion different ways.
Want to get really adventurous? Try steaming some dandelion greens — one cup packs 147 milligrams of calcium!
Sardines are definitely, um, an acquired taste. But if you love them, you’re in luck because they’re an excellent source of calcium among other things including fatty acid, B12 and selenium.
They’re also more than just a pizza ingredient. Sardines pack a heavy flavor and can be used in everything from soups to salads and more.
Raisins are my favorite addition to a salad or pre/post workout snack. They’re one of the few foods leftover from my pre-healthy eating days that I can still enjoy every once in a while! Raisins contain over 80 milligrams of calcium per cup, giving me just one more reason to continue eating them!
10. Soy Beans
Although people who are following Paleo or Whole30-type eating plans will avoid soy beans because they’re legumes, others can stand to benefit from the calcium-packed beans.
Depending on how you cook them, a cup of soy beans contains anywhere from 175 to over 230 milligrams of calcium. Yum!