After the age of, say, 5, chugging a glass of milk isn’t necessarily the most appetizing way to get a healthy dose of calcium. That said, the mineral is hugely important way past your pre-school days. “Calcium is essential for healthy teeth and bones,” says Brigitte Zeitlin, R.D., of BZ Nutrition NY. “And the older we get, the more it plays a role, because it helps to prevent osteoporosis—a disease that can result in bone fractures, breaks, and eventually even surgery.” Calcium is super important for muscle function as well (we’re talking to you, strength-training queens), and it also helps your body to regulate nerve signals, blood clotting, and even your heartbeat.
So how much of the multitasking mineral do you need? The average adult woman should aim for 1,000 milligrams a day (if you’re pregnant or over 50, bump that up to 1,200 milligrams), ideally from natural sources, says Zeitlin. Ready to reach your daily quota? These seven calcium-rich foods will provide you with more that 300 milligrams of calcium per serving—a.k.a. more than what’s in that glass of milk:
One cup will net you a whopping 861 milligrams of calcium—just shy of your total daily needs, says Zeitlin (and for fewer than 200 calories, no less!). It’s also high in muscle-building protein, at 10 grams per half cup. Zeitlin suggests sautéing tofu and tossing it into your salad. Or try throwing it into a fiber-filled veggie stir fry (add one cup of bok choy for an additional 74 milligrams of calcium!) to stay satisfied until your next meal.
One six-ounce serving of fresh salmon offers 340 milligrams of calcium, while a five-ounce serving of canned salmon has 350 milligrams (the bones in the canned stuff pack in more calcium). An excellent source of omega-3 fats, salmon helps keep your heart healthy and prevents inflammation. It’s also a great source of vitamin D, which your body needs in order to fully absorb calcium. Plus you’ll down 36 grams of protein per six-ounce serving, too. “You can find salmon on nearly every restaurant menu, too, so it’s easy to get your fill,” says Zeitlin. Eating at home? Grill it and pair it with Brussels sprouts, poach it and serve it on top of sautéed greens, or use canned salmon as a simple salad topper. Love sushi? Seaweed offers an additional calcium bump of 17 milligrams per two tablespoons.
A half cup of dry plain oats will give you 200 milligrams of calcium. Even better, the four grams of whole-grain fiber fills you up and keeps things moving through your digestive system, helping to lower your cholesterol and support your heart and gut health. Oats are also rich in B vitamins, which aid your metabolism by helping your body to convert food into energy. Cook your oatmeal with a cup of almond milk for another 300 to 400 milligrams of calcium. And for added crunch, flavor, and another 36 milligrams, top with two tablespoons of almonds.
One tiny three-ounce serving packs 370 milligrams of calcium. And, like all fish, sardines are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. “I like to grill them and throw them on top of a salad,” says Zeitlin. Make a mock Caesar salad by chopping them and mixing with three tablespoons of olive oil, one tablespoon of vinegar, and a pinch of salt and pepper, then tossing with calcium-rich dark leafy greens. Or add them into a stir-fry with spinach, mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes.
Source: women health