Ashutosh is an ardent vegan follower and thus, he completely discarded dairy products from his diet. Though Ashutosh is benefiting from being a vegan, still, he struggles to fulfill his daily calcium requirements from his diet. He is also suffering from calcium deficiency and thus, he consulted a doctor. The doctor told him to contact a dietician who will prescribe him some vegan calcium sources that will naturally uplift his body’s calcium level. Now, Ashutosh has started to consume all calcium-rich foods vegan to improve his calcium level.
In this article, we are also going to mention some calcium foods vegan so that people like Ashutosh should have adequate knowledge regarding what to eat and what to avoid.
Calcium plays an imperative role in your body. This mineral is required to build and maintain your bones. This also plays an important role in muscle contraction, blood pressure regulation, nerve transmission, and blood clotting. A healthy adult should take 1,000 mg of calcium per day. People who are above 50 may take 1,200 mg of calcium per day, and children (4-18 years) should take 1,300 mg per day.
Let’s take a look at some top vegan foods high in calcium.
1. Soy Foods
Soybeans are high in calcium. Foods made from soybeans are tofu, tempeh, and natto. These products are also rich in calcium. Tofu made with calcium phosphate offers 350 mg calcium per 3.5 ounces (100 grams). Tempeh and natto (made up of fermented soybeans) also provide good amounts. One 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of tempeh covers around 11% of the RDI (Reference Daily Intake) and natto offers about twice that amount.
Soy foods are also excellent sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These are rare plant foods that offer a complete source of protein. Soy foods offer all nine essential amino acids.
2. Beans, Peas, and Lentils
Though they are still rich in fiber and protein, they are amazing sources of calcium.
Take a look at different varieties of these products that offer various levels of this mineral per cooked cup (about 175 grams).
- Winged (goa) beans: 26% of the RDI
- White beans: 13% of the RDI
- Navy beans: 13% of the RDI
- Black beans: 11% of the RDI
- Chickpeas: 9% of the RDI
- Kidney beans: 7% of the RDI
- Lentils: 4% of the RDI
Beans and lentils also contain other nutrients, like iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, and folate. But they also come up with antinutrients like phytates and lectins that will reduce your body’s ability to absorb other nutrients. Moreover, beans, peas, and lentils also minimize your LDL (bad) cholesterol and lessen your risk of conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and premature death.
3. Certain Nuts
All nuts, including almonds, are rich in calcium. 1/4th cup of almonds offers 97 mg of calcium, which is about 10% of the RDI. Brazil nuts provide around 6% of the RDI per 1/4 cup (35 grams) while walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, and macadamia nuts embrace customers in between 2–3% of the RDI for the same quantity.
Nuts are also high in fiber, healthy fats, and protein. They come up with antioxidants and contain good amounts of B vitamins, magnesium, copper, potassium, and selenium, as well as vitamins E and K.
Eating nuts regularly will not only reduce your weight but also minimize your blood pressure, and lessen risk factors for metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Seeds and their butter are other powerful sources of calcium.
- Tahini (butter made from sesame seeds) offers 130 mg per 2 tablespoons (30 ml) or 13% of the RDI.
- Sesame seeds (the same quantity) offer only 2% of the RDI
- Chia and flax seeds (the same quantity) provide around 5–6% of the RDI per 2 tablespoons
Seeds also contain fiber, protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and essential plant compounds. Seeds also lessen your inflammation; reduce blood sugar levels and other risk factors for heart disease.
Though grains are not rich in calcium, some varieties offer good amounts of this mineral.
Amaranth and teff are two gluten-free grains that provide around 12% of the RDI per cooked cup (250 grams). Both contain high fiber and you can add them to a plethora of dishes.
By incorporating seaweed into your diet, you can enhance your calcium intake.
- Wakame provides around 126 mg or 12% of the RDI per cup (80 grams). This is available in various supermarkets or sushi restaurants.
- Kelp (can be eaten raw or dried) is another option for you. One cup (80 grams) of raw kelp offers around 14% of the RDI. Dried kelp flakes are useful in salad seasoning.
Some seaweed varieties like kelp contain excessive amounts of iodine per portion. Though iodine is beneficial for the proper function of your thyroid gland, too much consumption can be harmful. Thus, never consume seaweed frequently or in large quantities.
7. Certain Vegetables and Leafy Greens
Some vegetables, including leaf vegetables and cruciferous vegetables, are high in calcium.
- Vegetables like spinach, bok choy, turnip, mustard, and collard greens offer 84–142 mg per cooked 1/2 cup (70–95 grams, depending on the variety) or 8–14% of the RDI.
- Other calcium-rich vegetables are okra, kale, cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. They offer nearly 3–6% of the RDI per cooked 1/2 cup (60–80 grams).
The Bottom Line
These vegetables also contain oxalates that bind to calcium in your gut. Thus, your body finds it difficult to absorb it. Several medical studies have proved that your body consumes only 5% of the calcium found in some high-oxalate vegetables.
Thus, you should discard or avoid higher-oxalate vegetables, such as spinach, beet greens, and Swiss chard. Boiling minimizes the levels of oxalate by 30–87% and it is more effective than steaming or baking.
Calcium is a prime mineral for your body and dairy products are the biggest sources of calcium. But if you are a vegan, you can get calcium from an array of plant-based products like vegetables, fruits, seeds, and nuts.