Ensuring you get enough of the essential mineral calcium is important for many of your body's functions, including strengthening and maintaining healthy bones. Here are some simple and delicious ways to add more calcium into your diet.

Why do we need calcium?

Calcium plays an important role in strengthening bones and teeth, muscle function (contracting and relaxing muscles), blood clotting, healthy heart function, sending and receiving nerve signals and the secretion of hormones and enzymes.

10 surprising food sources of calcium

Whilst dairy is the most commonly known food source of calcium, did you know there are lots of other surprising sources?
Here are 10 top surprising foods that provide a source of health-promoting calcium:

  1. Almonds (including almond butter!)
  2. Sesame seeds
  3. Tahini (sesame seed paste)
  4. Chia seeds
  5. Fish with edible bones (e.g. sardines and tinned salmon)
  6. Dried figs
  7. Broccoli
  8. Leafy green vegetables (such as bok choy, cooked kale and collard greens)
  9. Bone broth
  10. Seaweed (also known as sea vegetables)

Delicious ways to get calcium into your diet

Including calcium-rich foods into your diet is important to ensure your calcium levels are maintained.
Here’s how you can boost your calcium intake whilst adding flavour and texture using the surprising ingredients listed above:

  • Sprinkle your salads with almonds or sesames seeds or a drizzle of tahini
  • Top your sweet breakfast with almonds, chia seeds or figs
  • Top your savoury breakfast with sesame seeds, tahini or crushed almonds
  • Top your smoothie bowl or smoothie with calcium rich ingredients such as almonds, hazelnuts and chia seeds or drizzle with tahini
  • Add chia seeds to your smoothies (this will make them extra thick and provide a source of protein too)
  • Add almond butter to smoothies and smoothie bowls
  • Snack on apple slices topped with almond butter
  • Make banana nice-cream with almond butter. Blend frozen banana with almond butter and a splash of almond milk until smooth and creamy. Top with chopped almonds and chia seeds
  • Love your green leafy vegetables
  • Make kale chips!

  • Make a raw nut slice using almonds such as my no bake coco-nutty slice (add tahini for extra calcium)
  • Roast broccoli florets (these are delicious tossed in garlic infused olive oil and roasted until crispy)
  • Enjoy an Asian-inspired stir fry with bok choy and broccoli and top with toasted sesame seeds
  • Make fruit and nut bliss balls using dried figs and almonds
  • Make a salad dressing with tahini (mix tahini with lemon juice and a touch of water) or drizzle tahini over your cooked vegetables for a creamy addition
  • Sip on bone broth or use bone broth in your cooking. (You’ll be helping improve your gut health at the same time)
  • Mash the edible bones in tinned salmon and mix with avocado, lemon juice and fresh herbs and serve on top of rounds of cucumber for a healthy protein-rich snack or light lunch
  • Make homemade sushi or nori wraps using nori (seaweed sheets) or sprinkle your salads with shredded dried nori. Using canned salmon, mashing the edible bones in your filling.
  • Use almond meal in baking. Try out my grain free banana nut muffins

How to maximise your calcium absorption

Make sure you have adequate vitamin D levels to help your body use calcium more efficiently.

  • You can get vitamin D from sensible sun exposure and foods such as salmon and egg (yolk).
  • Ensure your gut health is on track. A healthy gut helps your body properly digest food sources of calcium.
  • Magnesium is also important and necessary for your body to use calcium.
  • Food sources of magnesium include dark green leafy vegetables, banana, avocado, figs, nuts and seeds (particularly cashews, almonds, brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds).
  • Vitamin K is also an important vitamin for calcium synthesis. Vitamin K is found in dark green leafy vegetables such as kale and chard, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

This article first appeared on www.livelovenourish.com.au

This article was written by nutritionist, naturopath and recipe developer Casey-Lee Lyons © Live Love Nourish™ 2017. All rights reserved.

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