Food EducationHealth

25 Calcium-Rich Plant Foods That DON’T Come From Dairy!

The first thing most people think of when they hear calcium is “milk.” This is mainly because the American dairy industry heavily promotes the consumption of milk as a human’s sole source of calcium. What they often fail to let people know is that there are many other excellent sources of calcium. From where you ask? Well, plant foods of course! Calcium from plant foods are well-absorbed by the body, and can range anywhere from celery to more higher-containing calcium foods like chia seeds and broccoli.

Calcium is a major material used by the body for mineralization of bones and teeth. It is also used in many different cellular processes such as nerve and muscle function and blood clotting. When dietary calcium is too low, calcium is leaked from the bones, and is instead used for functions required for survival. This, in turn, makes our bones weak and brittle.

calcium-rich plant foods

The recommended daily calcium intake for adults aged 19-50 years and men 51-70 years is 1000 mg per day, whereas that for women over 51 years and men over 7o is 1200 mg per day. Research suggests that diets containing these calcium amounts, or more, can help reduce the risk of fractures and osteoporosis as people age.

Diet’s high in protein, particularly animal protein, result in higher calcium loss in urine, which may be directly correlated to increased fracture risk. Eating a lower protein diet, rich in fruit and vegetables, will ensure your body is absorbing the minerals and vitamins from your food, instead of having these minerals stripped from your bones to be used or excreted elsewhere.

25 Calcium-Rich Plant Foods:

1. Chia seeds (2 ounces = 356 mg)
2. Sesame seeds (1 tbsp = 88 mg)
3. Kohlrabi (1 cup = 32 mg)
4. Almonds (1/4 cup = 62 mg)
5. Collards (1 cup = 84 mg)
6. Spinach (1 cup = 250 mg)
7. Turnip greens (1 cup = 39 mg)
8. Brazil nuts (1/4 cup = 53 mg)
9. Kale (1 cup = 100 mg)
10. Broccoli (1 cup = 43 mg)
11. Bok choy (1 cup = 74 mg)
12. Okra (1 cup = 82 mg)
13.  Pumpkin seeds (55 mg per 100 grams)
14. Butternut squash (1 cup = 67 mg)
15. Green Beans (1 cup = 37 mg)
16. Mulberries (1 cup = 55 mg)
17. Celery (1 cup = 40 mg)
18. Cabbage (1 cup = 30 mg)
19. Artichoke (1 artichoke = 71 mg)
20. Gooseberries (1 cup = 38 mg)
21. Onions (1 cup = 27 mg)
22. Brussels sprouts (1 cup = 37 mg)
23. Asparagus (1 cup = 32 mg)
24. Avocado (1 avocado = 24 mg calcium)
25. Coconut meat (1 cup = 11 mg)


Weaver CM, Heaney RP, Nickel KP, et al. Calcium bioavailability from high oxalate vegetables: Chinese vegetables, sweet potatoes, and rhubarb. J Food Sci 1997;62:524-525.

Bedford JL, Barr SI. Higher urinary sodium, a proxy for intake, is associated with increased calcium excretion and lower hip bone density in healthy young women with lower calcium intakes. Nutrients 2011; 3:951-61.

Munger RG, Cerhan JR, Chiu BC. Prospective study of dietary protein intake and risk of hip fracture in postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69:147-52.

Kerstetter JE, O’Brien KO, Caseria DM, et al. The impact of dietary protein on calcium absorption and kinetic measures of bone turnover in women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2005;90:26-31.

IOM (Institute of Medicine). Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2011.

Weaver CM, Plawecki KL. Dietary calcium: adequacy of a vegetarian diet. Am J Clin Nutr 1994;59 (suppl):1238S-1241S.

Feskanich D, Willett WC, Colditz GA. Calcium, vitamin D, milk consumption, and hip fractures: a prospective study among postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr 2003;77:504-11.

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