From childhood we hear that for strong teeth and bones we need to have calcium, and calcium comes from milk and cheese. The advertisements suggest that unless we are drinking and eating dairy, our bones and teeth will disappear before we reach middle age. And it is true — dairy foods do provide plenty of calcium.
But what about all the people who, for various reasons, give up all dairy products? They don’t eat cheese, they don’t drink milk and even downing a chocolate milk shake is out of the question. Will their bones get brittle and their teeth fall out? Not necessarily. There are many quality sources of calcium available in a wide variety of plant foods. So if you are one of those who avoid dairy products, the Sacramento Dentistry Group can recommend the following sources of dietary calcium, necessary for a well-balanced diet.
Leafy Greens and Vegetables
Including a wide variety of greens and vegetables in the diet, a plant-based eater has no trouble consuming large amounts of quality calcium, along with many other vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Of course, these items and other whole foods provide loads of fiber, and that’s good for the colon and the cholesterol. Vegetables such as sweet potatoes. carrots, kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, butternut squash and cauliflower all supply ample amounts of dietary calcium. Collard greens are the king of vegetable calcium, containing a whopping 265 milligrams of calcium in one cup of cooked greens. Got greens?
Grains that supply the body with essential amino acids also provide a good dose of calcium. Corn tortillas, whole grains, brown rice, whole wheat bread and plant based “mylks,” such as rice milk, contain calcium, along with other nutrients required for vibrant health. Got grains?
Legumes are a good source of essential amino acids for building proteins, but they are also a great source of calcium. The list of legumes is extensive, and includes delicious variety. Garbanzos (chickpeas), great northern beans, limas, pintos, mayocoba beans, navy beans, lentils, white, black and red kidney beans are just a few on the long list. Other legumes that supply calcium are used to make soymilk and tofu, staples in Asia and the plant-based world. Got beans?
Fruit contains calcium? Yes, especially some of the dried varieties. Figs and raisins have calcium. Oranges do too. Many orange juice brands are calcium fortified, and can contain up to 300 milligrams in just one cup. Got fruit?
If you eat a balanced, nutrient-dense and well-planned diet full of leafy greens and vegetables, legumes, whole grains and fruits, you are on your way to keeping your bones, jaws and teeth strong and vibrant. This will help prevent cavities and the varied diet lessens the risk of gum disease. Combine a good diet with regular exercise and your needs for calcium and bone strength are most likely being met.
On your next appointment to the Sacramento Dentistry Group, feel free to brag a bit about your healthy eating habits. Dental health and overall physical heath go “hand in hand.” Healthy patients make us happy, so go eat your greens and be sure to make an appointment soon to come see us in our beautiful downtown Sacramento office.