Calcium is one of the very important nutrients that we need for performing many of the body functions. This nutrient is essential for your bone health, blood circulation, and muscle movements.
We have to take calcium from the foods that we eat because our body cannot produce calcium on its own. There are several plant foods that are rich sources of calcium.
Here are some of the best plant foods that you can include in your plant-based meal plan for getting enough calcium.
Peas, Beans, And Lentils
Beans, peas, and lentils are mainly consumed because of the high amount of protein and fiber in them. However, they are also a good source of calcium and other important minerals. Different varieties of beans such as winged beans, navy beans, white beans, kidney beans, black beans, etc. offer a good amount of calcium daily. They also contain other essential nutrients like zinc, iron, potassium, and folate.
It is important to note that beans and lentils also contain antinutrients like lectins and phytates that can reduce the ability of the body to absorb the nutrients. Therefore, you need to soak, sprout, or ferment lentils and beans to reduce the amount of antinutrients in them. Studies have shown that a plant-based diet that is rich in beans and lentils will help in reducing the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. They are also beneficial in reducing the levels of LDL cholesterol in your body.
Soy products are present in many plant-based diets. Tofu, tempeh, natto, etc. are some of the foods made from soybeans and they are rich in calcium. Around 350 mg of calcium is present in 100 grams of tofu that is made with calcium phosphate.
Both natto and tempeh are made of fermented soybeans and both these soy products also provide a good amount of calcium. Soy products are a great plant-based source of vitamins, fiber, and minerals. Also, soybeans are considered one of the best plant-based sources of protein and also provide all nine amino acids that are essential for our body.
Grains are not usually considered a great source of calcium. However, there are some varieties of grains that contain a good amount of calcium and other necessary minerals. Two ancient grains varieties; such as teff and amaranth contain a high amount of calcium.
Both teff and amaranth are also rich in fiber and are included in many of the plant-based diets popular in Asia. Teff is usually used to make porridge and amaranth is mainly used as a substitute for couscous or rice. Both these grains are also ground into flour for making thick sauces and soups.
One of the easiest ways to take calcium daily if you are a vegan is through seaweed. A popular seaweed called Wakame contains 126 mg of calcium per cup. You can easily find Wakame in sushi restaurants and Asian supermarkets. Kelp, another variety of seaweed, is also a great source of calcium. You can eat kelp raw or dried.
It is important to note that seaweeds may contain high levels of heavy metals that can be very harmful to your body. Some seaweed varieties, such as kelp contain a high amount of iodine. Even though iodine is very beneficial for your thyroid gland, too much of it can be harmful. Therefore, you should only consume seaweeds in small quantities.
Some varieties of seeds and the butter made from them are great sources of calcium. Sesame seeds and its butter Tahini is also a great source of calcium. 2 tablespoons of tahini contain 130 mg of calcium. Other seeds like fax seeds and chia seeds also offer a good amount of calcium.
Seeds are also rich in other essential nutrients like vitamins, protein, fiber, healthy fats, minerals, and several other plant compounds that are beneficial for our health. Studies have revealed that including seeds in your diet will help reduce the blood sugar levels, inflammation levels, and also reduce the risk of several health disorders.
Nuts, especially almonds, are great plant-based sources of calcium. It is found that around 97 mg of calcium is present in just ¼ cup of almonds. After almonds, Brazil nuts are a great source of calcium among nuts. ¼ cup of Brazil nuts offers around 6 % of RDI. Other nuts, such as hazelnuts, walnuts, and pistachios also offer a good amount of calcium.
Other important nutrients that are present in the nuts are healthy fats, protein, and fiber. They are also a great source of several antioxidants and minerals. Nuts also contain a good amount of B vitamins and other vitamins like vitamin E and K. Regular consumption of nuts will help you to lose excess weight and reduce blood pressure.