Plenty of foods are rich in calcium, and many do not contain dairy. Calcium-rich foods without dairy may be particularly beneficial for vegans and people who are lactose intolerant and cannot fully digest dairy products.
Calcium is essential for general health. Most adults aged 19–50 require
Milk, cheese, and yogurt are the best sources of calcium, but many nondairy foods are also rich in the mineral. In this article, we describe 18 plant-based sources of calcium.
The following foods are rich in calcium and contain no animal-based products.
1. Chia seeds
A single ounce, or 2 tablespoons, of chia seeds provide
Chia also contains boron, which promotes the health of bones and muscles by helping the body to
Add chia seeds to smoothies or mix them into oatmeal or yogurt for a little added crunch.
2. Soy milk
One cup of fortified soy milk contains about the same amount of calcium as the equivalent of cow’s milk. It is important to choose a product that is fortified with calcium carbonate.
Soy milk is also rich in vitamin D, and it contains less saturated fat than whole milk with lactose.
Just 1 cup of whole almonds contains
However, the same serving also contains 838 calories and almost 72 grams of fat.
While the fat is mostly healthful and monounsaturated, the calorie count is high, and a person should limit their intake to smaller portions of a quarter cup per serving, for example.
4. Dried figs
About eight figs, or 1 cup, provides
Figs make a great sweet treat and are rich in fiber and antioxidants. Try them as a midday snack or crush them into a creamy jam.
Tofu tends to be an excellent source of calcium. However, the calcium content varies, depending on the firmness and the brand, and it can range from 275–861 mg per half cup.
To receive the benefits of the calcium, read labeling carefully and only select tofu that contains calcium salt, which manufacturers use as a coagulant.
6. White beans
One cup of white beans yields
White beans are a low-fat food and are also rich in iron. Add them to a favorite soup or salad, eat them in a side dish, or use them in hummus.
7. Sunflower seeds
A single cup of sunflower seed kernels contains
These seeds are also rich in magnesium, which balances the effects of calcium in the body and regulates nerve and muscle health.
In addition, sunflower seed kernels contain vitamin E and copper.
Together, these nutrients can promote bone strength and flexibility and prevent bone loss.
However, sunflower seeds can contain high amounts of added salt, which depletes the body’s levels of calcium. For optimal health benefits, choose raw, unsalted seeds.
Also, consider a single serving to be about one handful of kernels, to avoid excessive calorie intake.
8. Broccoli rabe
Broccoli’s bitter cousin, broccoli rabe, contains
Many recipes aim to tone down and complement the intense flavor of this hearty vegetable.
One cup of frozen, prepared edamame contains
Available fresh or frozen and shelled or in pods, edamame contain high-quality proteins and all nine essential amino acids.
Just 2 cups of raw chopped kale provide about 180 mg of calcium.
Kale belongs to the cruciferous family of vegetables, which also includes broccoli. The leafy green is
Add chopped kale to a salad or sauté or steam the vegetable as a side dish.
11. Sesame seeds
Eating just 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds adds
Sesame seeds also contain zinc and copper, and both are beneficial to bone health. Results of a
One cup of frozen broccoli has
A diet rich in broccoli and other members of the cruciferous family
Research in rodents suggests that compounds in broccoli can help to prevent bladder, breast, colon, liver, and stomach cancers. However, studies in humans have produced inconclusive results.
13. Sweet potatoes
One large sweet potato contains
Vitamin A is an important antioxidant that may promote
Sweet potatoes are naturally low in fat and calories. They are popular as a side dish in some parts of the world.
14. Mustard and collard greens
Raw collard greens contain
Raw mustard greens are also a significant source of nutrients, and they contain
A single cup of raw okra contains
Many people enjoy the vegetable boiled, fried, pickled, or roasted.
16. Oranges and orange juice
One large orange contains
17. Butternut squash
Butternut squash contains
The same serving also provides 31 mg of vitamin C, which is more than one-third of the recommended daily amount. The NIH
Butternut squash is also rich in vitamin A, and there are many versatile recipes.
Another cruciferous vegetable, arugula, contains 32 mg of calcium per cup.
This may not seem like an impressive figure, but arugula contains a lot of water, and it is low in calories, at
A person may eat 3 or 4 cups per serving, boosting the overall calcium intake.
Arugula also contains high amounts of a compound called erucin, which may
Calcium is an important mineral that is easy to obtain through the diet. Aim to consume 2 or 3 servings of plant-based calcium per day.
Anyone unable to meet their daily calcium requirement should talk to a doctor about taking a supplement.