Bone Appetit

By Caroline Dipping

November 16, 2007 5 min read


Dairy's good, but other foods are rich in calcium, too

By Caroline Dipping

Copley News Service

Everyone knows that calcium does a body good. It builds stronger bones and teeth and maintains bone mass. It also helps muscles and nerves to work properly, helps the blood to clot and may help to reduce weight gain. Yet, despite calcium's health benefits, people aren't getting enough in their diets, even with the usual suspects - milk, yogurt, ice cream and cheese.

"There is a high ratio of calcium deficiency in the standard American diet," said Janet Little, certified nutritionist for Henry's Farmers Market.

But dairy isn't the only way to get calcium.

There are two things to consider while looking to add calcium-rich foods to your diet: bioavailability (the ability of the body to use the nutrients) and calcium density (meaning you get a lot of calcium for your calories). Calcium-rich foods should fall under both categories, according to Little.

"Actually, some of your green vegetables have higher bioavailability than dairy sources," Little said. "Those would be cauliflower, watercress, brussels sprouts, mustard greens, bok choy, broccoli, turnip greens. And then you also have calcium-fortified beverages such as orange juice."

Another calcium-rich food is almonds, she said. Adding them to salad not only packs a crunch, but gives your food intake a calcium kick. The recommended daily allowance of calcium for most adults is 1,000 milligrams. Here are some calcium-rich foods that you can find in - and out - of the dairy case:

- Canned sardines, 3 ounces, 325 milligrams

- Nonfat milk, 1 cup, 301 milligrams

- Cheddar cheese, 1 ounce, 204 milligrams

- Canned salmon, 3 ounces, 182 milligrams

- Broccoli, cooked from fresh, chopped, 1/2 cup, 36 milligrams

- Kale, cooked, 1 cup, 90 milligrams

- Almonds, 1 ounce, 75 milligrams

- Tofu, firm, raw, 1 ounce, 194 milligrams

- Yogurt, plain fat-free, 1/2 cup, 224 milligrams


6 ounces natural chicken breast or 8 ounces extra-firm tofu

1 tablespoon fresh organic ginger, grated

1 clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or organic sesame oil

1/4 cup water chestnuts, sliced

1 carrot, sliced

1/2 cup organic broccoli, cut into florets

1/4 cup organic snow peas

1/2 cup organic bok choy, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup organic chicken or vegetable broth

1/4 cup store-bought Asian Sesame Marinade

1 tablespoon low-sodium organic soy sauce or tamari

1 cup organic brown rice, cooked

Yields 2 servings.

Chop chicken or tofu into bite-size pieces. Place in bowl and toss with ginger, garlic and cornstarch; set aside. Heat large frying pan or wok over high heat. Add oil. Add all the veggies and cook for 3 minutes, until heated through. Add broth, cover veggies and cook for 1 minute. Add tofu or chicken, marinade and soy sauce. Toss until well coated. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked and reaches an internal temperature of 166 F.

Enjoy half the stir-fry with a half-cup of brown rice.


6 slices bacon, chopped

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 pounds brussels sprouts, cleaned and halved

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Salt and pepper

Yields 8 servings.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook bacon in an oven-proof pan until crisp, remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Drain bacon grease. Add olive oil, garlic and brussels sprouts. Toss to coat evenly. Place in oven and roast 30 minutes, until soft. Stir in bacon and walnuts. Add salt and pepper to taste.

(From Janet Little, certified nutritionist for Henry's Farmers Market)

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