With all the talk about osteoporosis, I’d like to know sources of calcium other than dairy products.
Now, this is the kind of talk I like to hear around town.
Osteoporosis (porous bones) is a crippling disease that affects over 28 million Americans, 80 percent of whom are women, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. It’s estimated that Americans experience more than 1.5 million bone fractures every year costing to the tune of more than $10 billion a year. Ouch!
Fortunately, there are many sources of calcium, and there are good sources of calcium other than dairy products. But since an adult’s daily calcium needs range from 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams, you’ll have to be a little more creative to rack up enough daily.
Canned salmon reels in about 200 mg of calcium — and canned sardines about 300 mg — for each three-ounce serving. Take a guess where salmon and sardine’s calcium comes from … you guessed it: It’s in the tiny bones of the fish. So, when you’re making lunch, toss the fish, bones and all, into your salad or sandwich.
Some brands of orange juice such as Tropicana and Minute Maid can be fortified with calcium. They pour about 350 mg of calcium into your eight-ounce glass every morning. If you drink another cup of OJ with dinner, you’ll have drunk more than half of the amount recommended daily for adults.
Dark green vegetables such as chopped turnip greens will provide about 200 mg calcium for a one-cup cooked serving. Okra, mustard greens and Swiss chard dish out about 150 mg per cup — and they’re great in vegetable soups! A cup of cooked, chopped broccoli rakes in around 70 mg. Even parsley gets into the act with 41 mg for every 1/2 cup (toss it into pasta).
While Popeye ate spinach for extra strength, it didn’t do a bit of good for his bones. Spinach has oxalates, which bind most of the calcium and make it largely unusable. (Sorry, Popeye — use broccoli next time.)
Another big ticket item is tofu — if it’s processed with calcium. A cup of the firm stuff can provide a whopping 516 mg. The good and bad news about tofu (depending upon how you look at it) is that it lacks a distinct flavor of its own. That can work to your advantage, though, because it will soak up the flavor of whatever else you’re cooking. For an Asian flavor, toss strips of tofu into a stir-fry. If it’s Italian you’re after, add it to pasta sauce.
Soy milk can also give you big calcium bang for your buck — again, if calcium is added by the manufacturer. An eight-ounce serving of fortified soy milk pours 200 mg worth of calcium (not far off the 300 mg of calcium in a glass of skim milk).
A tablespoon of dried sesame seeds add slightly over 85 mg of calcium to your salad. An ounce of dry roasted almonds pack another 80 mg of calcium. Unfortunately, the almonds also add more than 160 calories and 14 grams of fat to your diet — so don’t go nuts over the nuts.