As the promotional efforts for my latest DASH Diet cookbook continue I wanted to take an opportunity to discuss the topic of non-dairy calcium sources.
Adequate calcium intake has also been correlated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer.
It should come as no surprise that dairy products, which are an incredibly rich calcium source, have their own food grouping within the DASH diet pattern.
This also makes a good deal of sense given the familiarity, affordability and accessibility of foods such as milk, yogurt and cheese, which also tend to be good sources of potassium.
With all of this in mind, the goal of today’s article is to help you appreciate that dairy is not the only meaningful source of calcium in our food system.
My latest DASH Diet Cookbook, pictured below and now available now fore pre-order, makes use of both dairy and non-dairy calcium sources to optimize the blood pressure lowering benefit of adequate calcium intake.
Let’s now move on to the good stuff and find out what these seemingly elusive non-diary food sources happen to be.
My Top 7 Non-Dairy Sources Of Calcium
I came up with this list with a few important criteria in mind beyond just purely calcium content.
My aim was to select foods from different groupings, and especially identify selections that offered nutritional value beyond just calcium content.
I believe the list below achieves all of the above, hope it helps!
Tofu & Other Soy– My long time readers will know how strongly I feel about soy as a valuable tool to diversify protein intake, and tofu also happens to be a great source of calcium as do most soy-based foods.
Collard Greens/Broccoli/ Kale – Leafy greens are known for their calcium intake and despite containing compounds that may alter calcium absorption, they still play an important role in the broader dietary pattern. These three selections in particular are high in calcium as well as vitamin C, making them particularly important for plant-based eaters. Obviously kale, my favourite vegetable of all, makes an appearance here.
Oranges/Kiwi/Figs- It’s quite fitting for vegetarians/vegans that two of the fruits that are highest in Vitamin C (enhances non-heme iron absorption) also tend to be among the highest in calcium as well.
Canned Sardines/Salmon – When most people think about fish, they think about omega-3 fatty acids, but fish are also the single highest naturally occurring source of vitamin D and if you are a canned fish completest, you will eat the bones as well for their exceptional calcium contribution. [Not plant-based, but important for pescatarians]
White Beans/Kidney Beans/Chickpeas – The legume family of foods which are also rich in potassium and magnesium, are among the most underrated family of foods.
Squash/Sweet Potato – These vibrant starchy veggies also happen to pack a serious calcium punch, which further compliments their overall nutrient density and potassium content.
Nuts/Seeds – Especially chia seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds almonds and walnuts. Nuts & seeds can be sprinkled on just about anything and their health benefits go well beyond just their calcium content.
There you have it people, my top 6 selections for calcium that exclude dairy and the more obvious calcium fortified beverages ( both of which are totally fine by the way!).
The party doesn’t stop here though, we are going to do a quick magnesium pit stop as well.
Bonus Content – Magnesium
Magnesium is another very important DASH diet mineral and has a meaningful role to play in blood pressure reduction.
It’s arguably even more relevant than calcium because Canadians are more likely to fall short in magnesium than they are calcium, and there isn’t a singular obvious source to acquire all of your magnesium from ( as there is with dairy or fortified milk alternatives in the case of calcium).
I’ve actually written an article on the top sources of magnesium previously, but still decided to add this section to today’s blog post in order to highlight some alternative magnesium rich foods.
You should read that article too though!
Here are my selections for today:
- Dark Chocolate
- Black beans/Edamame
- Soy milk
- Brown rice
- Peanut butter
I put this list together strategically to include food sources from a wide array of food groups that serve different purposes and also tend to contain other important DASH nutrients like calcium and potassium, while specifically avoiding overlap between today’s article and my previous article on magnesium.
If you’ve previously my read my article on potassium-containing foods, you will happily notice some overlap here as well.
Hope this helped!
Until next time,
Andy De Santis RD MPH