Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sources of Vegan Calcium

Number 2 on the list of most asked questions (with #1 being on protein) would be, "where do you get your calcium? Well, there are plenty sources of vegan calcium.


Looks like it's time to whip out a good recipe of vegan palak paneer, no?

To give the list, here's what we've got for the foods ridiculously high in vegan calcium:
  • Spinach packs 240 mg of calcium per serving. Interestingly, spinach is one of the rare foods that's more nutritionally beneficial once cooked as opposed to its raw form. Spinach is full of oxalates, which inhibit the absorption of calcium. Cooking, however, destroys some of the oxalates and paves the way for optimal calcium intake. 
  • 5 dates provide 76 mg of calcium. Keep in mind that dates are both high in sugar and calories; 60 for just one date. For their mighty mineral content, it's worth the snack. 
  • 50 grams of delightful nutty almonds offer 132 mg of calcium. Between the high calcium content and being full of mood-boosting magnesium, almonds are a lovely treat.
  • A single sliced orange giving nearly 10 percent of my calcium intake? Yes please! Mosambis/sweet limes unfortunately do not offer the same benefits. That said, oranges appear to be year-round here in India (if only because of the imports from Australia).
  • Eating figs, be them dried or fresh, is a great way to get this bone-strengthening mineral. The hardest part is stopping after eating only 5 figs. 
  • Tofu ranks on the list yet again! Though some vegans are wary of soy, it's a sure way to get calcium in the body. If you choose to consume tofu, always try finding a GMO-free option. Though India cannot produce GM crops, this does not prevent companies from importing GM soy beans and using them for manufacturing. This is why some soy milk in India is made from GM beans (I'm looking at you, Godrej "Soy Fresh" brand!) while others are not. 

Another note on calcium for vegans: I would argue that getting enough calcium is more of an issue for meat eaters. Why? Many meat eaters risk eating too much protein thanks to an animal-heavy diet. Yes, it's possible to get too much protein! Eating too much protein leads to many problems outlined here, but another problem is the inverse relationship between protein consumption and calcium. Animal protein, being very acidic, leaches calcium in order to metabolize. An article from Michigan State University explains that eating a plant-based diet causes one's calcium needs to decrease, as plant-based proteins do not cause a loss in calcium like animal proteins. 

So if you think that drinking milk is crucial for meeting your calcium intake, think again. The article offers this tidbit of information based on studies found by the US Food and Drug Administration:

"The high protein content of milk may actually contribute to the very disease that the calcium in milk is alleged to prevent."

Score one for the vegans.

8 comments:

  1. Also Cabbage is a great source of calcium. Kale and Okra, sun dried tomatoes as well as Broccoli and Garlic also contains pretty much calcium. Thanks for a great and interesting blog!

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