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10 Vegan Foods High in Calcium
Calcium is incredibly important for good health. It affects bone health, muscle and nerve communication and blood clotting, and is used by almost every cell in our body. While too much can lead to bone calcification, not enough dietary calcium can lead to osteoporosis.
Calcium also happens to be one of the minerals vegans and vegetarians are most often deficient in. Knocking out milk and yoghurt can be a big blow for some diets. The good news however, is that there are loads of high-calcium foods that are absolutely vegan-friendly. And, as is often the case with vegan options, they tend to be much higher in all the other good stuff as well - with less of the saturated fat and nasties.
Here are 10 of the healthies dairy free, vegan food sources of calcium. Feel free to indulge - no matter what your food philosophy!
1. Those Dark Leafy Greens!
It's officially a fact, you can't skip your vegetables if you want to stay healthy. Especially not the veggies of the dark green and leafy variety. Calcium is only one of the nutrients these babies are rich in - most of them are also packed full of Vitamins A, C and K, as well as folate and potassium, and incredibly low in calories, if that's a concern.
As far as calcium is concerned, your best bet is collard greens, but other great choices are spinach, kale, turnip greens and swiss chard (also known as silver beet).
Introduce them gradually though - leafy greens can be overwhelming on your digestive system if you're not used to them. Try starting off with lightly sautéed spinach or adding a handful of kale to a smoothie.
Almonds are a fantastic snack to keep on hand for anyone. As well as being super high in protein, Vitamin E (the skin saving vitamin) and manganese, a handful of almonds a day will give you 74.6mg of calcium. They're also high in unsaturated fats, and boost your intake of dietary fibre.
Keep a glass jar of almonds in your fridge (yes, you should store nuts in the fridge; it prevents them becoming rancid and keeps them fresh and nutrition-packed for longer) and snack on them throughout the day, or try making your own almond spread as a delicious alternative to butter. Or, to make healthy cakes and muffins, make sure to pick up some almond flour at your local health food store or supermarket!
If you're interested in alternative health and don't mind spending a little extra time on your nuts, consider trying out activated almonds. Made famous by celebrity chef and passionate paleo Pete Evans, activated almonds are claimed to be more easily digestible and much more nutritious than the ordinary, run-of-the-mill variety. While there's little conclusive proof that this actually works, proponents of the method rave about its benefits. It can't hurt to try, right?
3. White Beans (Cannellini Beans)
Many beans are a great source of calcium, and white beans are no exception. In a cup of cooked cannellini beans, you'll find 161mg of calcium, or 16% of your recommended daily intake (RDI).
Add canned or cooked dried beans to soups, stews and salads, or make them the star of the table in a white bean puree, similar to hummus.
A cup-sized serve of white beans also provides 37% of your daily iron needs, and is a fantastic source of protein, being one of the few "complete" plant-based proteins. Like all of the legume family, they're also rich in a wide range of vitamins and minerals.
Be careful, though - many people struggle with digestive issues after consuming too many beans. To lessen the risk of bloating and general digestive discomfort, try soaking and rinsing dried beans before you cook them.
Talking of beans, there's a reason so many vegan products are based on soy - this humble bean, which in appearance is quite similar to the white bean discussed above, is packed full and bursting with nutrition.
Be a conscious consumer, though - while some consider this a superfood and believe it can help with hormonal imbalances that contribute to cancer, others are concerned about it having the opposite effect. To stay on the safe side, avoid having more than one or two serves of soy products a day.
As well as cooked soybeans, a cup of which provides 18% of your daily calcium, 57% of your daily protein (soybeans are another complete protein), and 49% of your daily iron needs, you can also consume soybeans as tofu, tempeh, soya milk, and a vast array of soy-based vegan meat and dairy replacement products. As always, though, remember that the less processed food in your diet, the better! Swapping meat and cheese for a preservative-filled vegan diet isn't necessarily a change for the better, health-wise.
You should also be aware that soybeans are quite often genetically modified.
This green cruciferous vegetable is every mum's favourite for good reason! Not only is it a relatively mild tasting veggie with a cute tree-like appearance perfect for convincing fussy kids that eating greens is fun, it's absolutely packed full of nutrients, with very little fat and few calories to show for it. In fact, some people classify it as a "negative calorie food", meaning we use more energy consuming and digesting it than we get from the food itself.
One stalk of broccoli, cooked, provides 11% (or 112mg) of your calcium needs, as well as a surprisingly high amount of protein (6.7g, as well as decent representations of the all amino acids) and a ton of Vitamins A, C, E, K and relatively high amounts of all the B vitamins, apart from B12, which is only found naturally in meat and seafood.
Broccoli is delicious steamed, baked, sautéed and included in pasta, stir fries and even baked goods.
It's little sisters, broccoli rabe, broccolini and rapini (similar, but slightly different members of the cruciferous family often mistaken for baby broccoli because of how similar they are in appearance and taste) are also great sources of calcium. 100g of broccoli rabe (or raab) provides 10% of your daily calcium - and with it's mild flavour and crunchy, fresh texture, you'll easily find yourself eating a lot more than that!
6. Rolled Oats and Porridge
While rolled oats themselves are a respectable source of calcium, like many foods these days, they are fortified with extra vitamins and minerals, one of which is calcium.
If you're buying oats for their calcium content, make sure to check the nutrition data on the back of the packet.
Calcium Content Comparison in Oats
Type of Oats
Calcium Content (mg)
Unfortified regular oats, dry
42.1 mg per cup (81g)
Unfortified regular oats, cooked
21.1 mg per cup (234g)
Fortified oats, dry
285 mg per cup (81g)
Fortified oats, cooked
187 mg per cup (234g)
7. Dried Figs
If you have a sweet tooth and prefer to get your calcium hit from a sugary treat, I've got great news for you! Just 10 dried figs contribute 10% of your daily calcium needs, and aren't as high in calories as you might think! While they aren't a nutritional powerhouse like broccoli, dried figs do contain Vitamin K, iron, manganese and B vitamins, as well as small amounts of many other vitamins and minerals.
Another sweet treat that doubles as a source of calcium is the humble orange. While most famously known for its Vitamin C content, oranges also provide around 7%, or 72 mg, of calcium per single raw orange, depending on size and variety.
Of course, whatever oranges have lots of, orange juice has even more of. In addition, it's often enriched to include even more calcium and Vitamin C. A glass of fortified orange juice contains a massive 50% of your daily calcium needs, as well as more Vitamin C than you're actually likely to need. No wonder it's such a popular breakfast drink!
Eat oranges whole as a snack, or include them in cakes, jams and even salads.
9. Sesame Seeds
Far from being just an easily forgotten bun topping, sesame seeds are a delicious, nutritional food in their own right. Just one tablespoon of whole dried sesame seeds provides 9%, or 89 mg, of your daily calcium.
Add sesame seeds to muesli, baking, and toast them for a nutty, creamy addition to salads and stir-fries. Or, try tahini, a sesame seed paste that is great as a spread, dip, or creamy salad dressing. Tahini contains 141 mg of calcium per 100 g.
10. Fortified Bread and Cereals
While wheat and other grains aren't typically particularly high in calcium, breads and other cereal products are frequently enriched or fortified. This means that two slices of regular white bread can contain as much as 35% of your daily calcium needs. As with oats and instant oatmeal, though, make sure you check the nutritional information on the back of the bag to make sure the bread (or Cheerios) you're buying is actually high in calcium.
Are you a person who struggles to get enough calcium? How do you get around it without drinking dairy? Let me know in the comments.