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Being a vegan requires a proper commitment to consuming foods that come from plants and evading all animal foods, including dairy products. Individuals who take the step to change their personality to a vegan are commendable members of society as they are looking out for the future of animal species.
People who just chose to become vegan often get confused about choosing the non-dairy calcium-rich foods that fill out their minimum calcium intake requirement. Calcium is an essential and abundant mineral in the human body, allowing people to maintain incredible bone health and strong teeth with proper absorption of Vitamin B12. Just the presence of enough calcium in the body is a miracle that prevents blood clotting and maintains a fit heart. It also assists in the contraction and relaxation of muscles and nerve signaling.
As meat and dairy products are essential sources of calcium content, it becomes a nuisance to find non-dairy calcium-rich foods for vegans and people with lactose intolerance to fulfill their daily calcium requirements. Before considering meals filled with calcium-rich foods, one must be aware of how much calcium content a human body needs in general.
How much calcium intake is required?
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) data in the United States, people aged between 19-50 require 1,000mg of calcium daily. But, going into specifics, the daily minimum calcium requirements stand as follows:
- For Men: 600 – 1200 mg of calcium per day
- For Women: 500 – 1000 mg of calcium per day
- For Kids: 400 – 700 mg of calcium per day
- For Pregnant & Lactating Mothers: 1200 mg of calcium per day
Proceeding further, the following are the 11 non-dairy foods that are high in calcium levels to make your work easier.
Best Non-Dairy Calcium-Rich Foods For Vegan
1. Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds are one of the highest calcium-rich foods, as just 2 tablespoons of them contain 176 mg of calcium content. Adding sesame seeds to the diet alternatively helps increase the fiber intake with the benefits of magnesium and zinc. Sesame seeds may aid in better bone health, muscle function, and blood sugar levels. Also, it helps lower cholesterol levels and tackles arthritis pain. However, eating excessive sesame seeds may cause seriously low blood pressure.
2. Chia Seeds
Chia Seeds are easy to incorporate into a diet and are great sources of calcium, as it caters to 631 mg of calcium per 100g of serving. But, 2 tablespoons of serving would be sufficient to fulfill 18% of the daily calcium requirement. Chia Seeds also contain vital minerals like boron, magnesium, and phosphorous, which prevent brittle bones, support weight loss, and lower the risk of heart-related diseases. Remember to drink plenty of water to digest the chia seeds well.
3. Dried figs and Almonds
Dried figs and Almonds are solely calcium-rich foods, and when combined, these serve a great amount of calcium content in the overall diet. Dried figs contain 162mg of calcium per 100g serving, and Almonds contain 264mg of calcium per 100g serving. Dried figs and Almonds are also high in fiber, potassium, and other vitamins and minerals that prevent constipation and promote reproductive health.
The benefits of dried figs and Almonds may sound astounding, but a point to be noted is that they also contain a high amount of calories and fat. This means that individuals should be precautionary while consuming these to prevent high-calorie intake.
4. Soy products
Soybean, soy milk, and tofu are all tremendous non-dairy food sources of calcium and protein. A lesser-known fact is that fortified soy milk is an excellent alternative to cow’s milk for vegan or lactose-intolerant individuals. It serves similar nutrients to the human body. And tofu is a perfect alternative to cottage cheese.
The calcium content of these items is as follows:
- Soybean – 280mg per 100g
- Soy Milk – 350mg per cup
- Tofu – 175mg per half cup (calcium content varies depending on firmness)
Another advantage of fortified soy milk is that it contains Vitamin D, Vitamin A, potassium, and protein, making it a similar alternative to cow’s milk but with lesser fat content. On the other hand, soybean and its products are one of the healthiest foods, as the benefits are never-ending, such as preventing cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases while assuring healthy bones.
5. White beans
Rich in iron, white beans are one of the low-fat calcium-rich foods which cater to 161mg per 100g of cooked beans. The benefits of white beans include protein, soluble fiber, folate, and several essential nutrients that support a healthy weight and heart health.
6. Moringa (Drumstick) Leaves Powder
Moringa (Drumstick) leaves powder provides 150mg of calcium every 10g of serving. Moringa Leaves are rich in essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, and wounds to muscle inflammation. Although the consumption of moringa powder is safe even at higher levels, the excessiveness of anything is not considered a good practice. A safer practice is consuming approximately 11 teaspoons of moringa powder.
7. Broccoli Rabe
Broccoli rabe, also known as Rapini, is a green cruciferous vegetable high in calcium with a bitter taste. 85g of Broccoli rabe serving provides 100mg of calcium. Its recipes, including a lemon squeeze, tend to brighten the taste with the additional benefits of Vitamin C. The health benefits of broccoli rabe are numerous and also include a good immune system and superior vision.
8. Mustard and Collard greens
Rich in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, Mustard and collard greens are a significant source of calcium for a vegan diet. Collard greens contain 232mg of calcium content per 100g and mustard greens contain 115mg of calcium content per 100g.
The benefits of cooked collard greens include lower risk factors for obesity, diabetes, and cancer, better functioning of the liver, healthy skin and hair, and a healthy digestive system due to its constituency of Vitamin C. The health benefits of mustard greens include a better immune system, great heart, lung, and kidney health, lower risk factors for chronic diseases, healthy eyes, and better brain functioning.
A great source of folate and certain minerals, including magnesium, phosphorus, and iron, Amaranth is a significant entity to add to a vegan diet for calcium-rich foods. Amaranth contains 102 calories with 1.6g of fat, 19g of carbohydrate, and 2.1g of fiber in a 100g serving. Amaranth grain caters to 330mg of calcium per 100g of serving.
Rich in antioxidants, the benefits of Amaranth include combating free radicals, repairing muscle tissue, maintaining collagen, easing inflammation, lowering cholesterol levels, regulating blood supply, and reducing everything from signs of aging to heart diseases.
10. Orange and Orange juice
Orange and its juice is the easiest-to-find item for calcium-rich foods for a vegan. A large orange provides 40mg of calcium content, while fortified orange juice with added calcium contains 350mg of calcium content per glass/serving. While being a significant source of Vitamin C, it has many health advantages, such as providing smoother skin, optimum blood sugar levels, and a nutritional immune system.
11. Sweet Potato
Sweet Potato is a delicious evening snack but it contains more calcium than a normal snack. It is rich in essential nutrients like manganese, copper, potassium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. It is also low in calories and fat content. A normal-sized sweet potato contains 57mg of calcium, about 6% of the needed amount.
The health benefits of sweet potatoes include healthy eyesight, reduced signs of aging, and prevention of chronic diseases like cancer. Sweet potatoes are easy to prepare and a good choice to include in a vegan diet. However, due to high sugar levels, it must be consumed just twice or thrice a week on an alternate basis.
To conclude, a vegan must consume a balanced diet filled with nutritious calcium-rich foods required for healthy body functioning.
People should ensure to consume enough Vitamin D required to regulate the human body’s calcium and phosphate. Oxalic acid found in calcium-rich foods like spinach and phytic acid in grains prevents calcium absorption. Soaking grains in warm water overnight helps reduce phytate content, resulting in easy absorption of calcium and other minerals. A habit of consuming excessive caffeine or smoking impacts the absorption of calcium content. People must avoid these habits at all costs.
A vegan diet filled with dairy-free calcium-rich foods can be planned by adding the above-listed foods on a preference basis. Creating a weekly diet plan is recommended to ensure the consumption of a minimum of 1,000mg of calcium content per day. Generally, only 10 – 50% of calcium content gets digested from the calcium in the overall diet depending on the gut health conditions. Henceforth, individuals must plan their diet accordingly.