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Calcium is a vital mineral for the human body. From a young age, we're told that it's important for forming and maintaining healthy teeth and bones - which is true. By not consuming sufficient amounts of calcium, you’re at higher risk of developing serious illnesses such as osteoporosis.
Most of us have grown up in places that considers dairy as an important part of a balanced diet while also being the best source of calcium. However, recent research now says otherwise (read one of my previous articles on reasons to cut down on dairy).
This research and data that tells us we can survive, and in fact thrive, without dairy has caused a spike in plant-based products, from milk to cheese; leading to a quarter of us in Britain now consuming plant-based milk!
This is all well and good but, if you dairy isn't necessary for getting your daily dose of calcium, then where do you get it from?
Something we’re never told in school is that certain plant foods are rich in calcium, from leafy vegetables to soy. What’s even better is that plant foods do not contain cholesterol and are high in a variety of other nutrients. Dairy, on the other hand, can cause inflammation and is high in saturated fat. By getting your calcium from various plant-based sources, you're also increasing the likelihood of getting many other essential nutrients too. Variety is key to a balanced diet!
Without further ado, here is a list of a few non-dairy sources of calcium - that are also vegan-friendly!
Soybeans contain 277 mg of calcium in 100 grams, meaning that soy-based foods are naturally rich in this mineral. So next time you’re food shopping, stock up on the tofu and soy milk and get experimenting in the kitchen! Tofu is renowned for being a versatile ingredient, which means that you shouldn’t have trouble creating something to your liking. Just remember, there are several varieties of tofu to choose from, from silken to extra firm, so you just have to find the type that you prefer!
There are certain seeds that are absolutely bursting with calcium, for example, sesame! These tiny seeds might very well be the most efficient way to get in your daily calcium dose (yes, even better than dairy)! They have a subtle nutty taste and can be sprinkled on almost any dish to give it some extra flavour. Although it’s still up for debate as to what form sesame seeds are at their most nutritionally dense (raw, hulled, roasted, crushed), you can’t really go wrong with having them raw; they add some texture and a whole lot of calcium!
Fortunately, there are plenty of plant-based foods that are fortified with calcium, so you shouldn’t have to worry too much about getting the right amount. Many milk products like rice and oat and food products like cereal are fortified with extra calcium to help you get your daily dose. Plant-based products are often fortified with other vitamins and minerals that are tricky to get on a vegan diet such as B12 and vitamin D, too! It really could not be easier to follow a healthy and nutritious animal-free diet nowadays.
Quite surprisingly, green, leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, and bok choy are a good source of calcium. In fact, kale contains 150 mg of calcium in 100 grams -- not too bad! These types of green vegetables are also easy to incorporate into your daily diet, whether you’re blending them up to go into a smoothie, or serving them up in a small dish alongside your main meals.