Struggling to meet your daily 1000 milligrams of calcium? You’re not alone – half of all Aussies struggle to meet their needs for this vital mineral, but you don’t have to down a carton of milk to make it happen! There’s a much simpler way. Here are 4 foods that can be easily added to your meals for a boost of calcium that’ll get you well over the line.
Calcium is the unsung hero of healthy tissue and strong bones. So, if you want to keep your body as tough as Chuck Norris in a cage fight, it's time to start prioritising your calcium intake. Trust us, your future self will thank you when you're still able to do a cartwheel in your golden years. Here are our top 4 simple foods that’ll add a dash of calcium to any meal.
Hard cheeses like Emmental and Raclette are especially high in calcium and vitamin K2 content. Both of these play a major role in bone formation and maintenance. You’ll get around 220 milligrams of calcium in a 28-gram serving of Swiss cheese – that’s well over 20% of our daily needs. K2 plays a role in protecting bones and it’s believed to have a more powerful effect than vitamin K, also known as vitamin K1. You’ll also find vitamin K2 in eggs, natto and butter – though natto packs a particularly powerful punch. It holds a variety of vitamin K2 known as MK-7, which is believed to help calcium bind to bone proteins in our body. To put it simply, it strengthens and regenerates our bones to reduce the risk of fracture. Hard cheeses also pack a good dose of magnesium, which our bodies need to maintain bone density. Research shows that our levels decline as we age, which is why it becomes all the more important to load up on sources of magnesium, along with calcium, in the fight against bone deterioration. But soft cheeses can also be a good source of calcium, with mozzarella coming in at 11% of our daily needs. Plus, it’s a versatile cheese – add it to pasta dishes, salads, sandwiches and, of course, pizza.
Natto is a popular Japanese side dish that works with brekkie, lunch and dinner – and for good reason. This stuff is a powerhouse of bone-boosting nutrients like vitamin K2, magnesium and, yes, calcium! Just 100 grams of the stuff packs 215 milligrams of calcium, so spoon some of this gut-healthy fermented dish onto your toast, soup, rice and even pasta dishes. Don’t knock it until you try it! Plus, fermenting foods not only increases their nutrient content, it also makes them more bioavailable – that is, easily absorbed and used by our bodies. This is especially evident in grains and legumes, like soy beans, that, in their original form, are harder to digest and contain phytic acid. This acid binds to nutrients and prevents us from properly absorbing them. But here’s where the fermentation process comes in – research shows it strips those nutrient-binding acids away and leaves you with a more bioavailable product.
Add leafy greens
Spinach, kale, bok choy and beet greens are all rich in nutrients – from vitamin K to vitamin C – but they’re also loaded with calcium. Leafy greens like kale have around 250 milligrams of calcium per 100 grams, which beats cow milk’s 110 milligrams. Vitamin K is another essential for bone formation, with low intake linked to a greater risk of fractures – that’s where leafy greens come in. Kale, for instance, provides an impressive 176 micrograms of vitamin K – that’s well over the 120 and 90-microgram recommendation for men and women, respectively.
Adding yoghurt to dishes is a simple and effective way to boost your calcium intake. Yoghurt is a great source of calcium, which is important for strong bones and teeth, nerve function, and muscle function. By adding yoghurt to dishes such as smoothies, curries, or even just as a topping on your breakfast cereal, you can easily increase your daily calcium consumption. Yoghurt is also a versatile ingredient, which means you can add it to a variety of dishes without compromising on taste – in fact, you’ll find it improves the dish! Greek yoghurt, for instance, can add a creaminess and tang to your soups, or you can use it in place of sour cream in your homemade tacos. Yum!
Whatever you do, make sure you’re getting a variety of sources of calcium to maximise your absorption of the nutrient.
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