Summary

Top Calcium Sources for Vegans

If you’re trying to maintain a plant-forward diet, one of your concerns might be getting enough nutrients that are typically associated with meat and dairy. Fear not — essential vitamins and minerals are plentiful in a plant-forward diet with the right guidance. This article will focus on how to integrate calcium simply and deliciously into your diet so that you feel strong and ready to take on the day!

Calcium is a mineral the body requires to maintain bone density, muscle function, and to ensure effective communication between the brain and the body, amongst other essential functions. 

Calcium Basics

Humans cannot produce calcium, but without it, our bodies become weak. Calcium deficiency can contribute to disorders such as osteoporosis, hypocalcemia, and generally poor health. The recommended calcium intake reduces with age, however menopausal women should pay special attention to their daily intake, as hormonal changes can reduce bone density — highlighting the importance of enough calcium to help fortify bones.

Calcium is primarily stored in teeth and bones, keeping them strong but also making it hard to identify a deficiency. Knowing the daily recommended allowance of calcium for your age group as well as having a good knowledge of what plant-based foods are rich in calcium will help ensure you receive the right amount of nutrients your body needs. It’s good to know that Vitamin D works as calcium’s trusty sidekick by facilitating calcium absorption.

Vitamin D and Calcium

Despite its name, vitamin D is actually a hormone that is found in the body’s fatty tissue. Exposure to sunlight triggers the body’s production of Vitamin D – a worthwhile reason to get outside and enjoy the sunshine! 

There are very few foods that are a good source of vitamin D, so you may want to consider a daily supplement for optimal calcium absorption.  

Plant-Based Sources of Calcium

While heavy-handed marketing by big dairy companies might have you convinced that milk is the number one source of calcium, there are plenty of delicious alternatives rich in the mineral that are easy to incorporate into a healthy diet such as seeds, beans, lentils, nuts, leafy greens, fruits, tofu, as well as many vegan fortified foods and drinks – your morning iced latte with hemp milk should get you to half of your daily calcium intake! 

What’s more, lactose intolerance, caused by a deficiency of the lactase enzyme that breaks down milk sugar, affects around 65% of people – often without them knowing. Lactose intolerance can cause bloating, nausea, and other digestive issues that make calcium-rich alternatives to dairy an appealing option, whether you follow a plant-based diet or not. 

Seeds

Seeds are a fantastic source of protein and are easy to integrate into a diet. They mix well into most dishes – whether it be granola, salad, pasta, smoothies, sauces – you name it! Below are some examples of calcium rich seeds and ideas of how to eat them. 

Poppy Seeds

Usually regarded as the reserve of bagels, poppy seeds are staple ingredients in Eastern European and Indian cuisine. Not only do they add a nutty crunch to your meals, but they also provide a big portion of your calcium intake. When roasted, they can be easily ground into sauces and fillings such as for a delicious vegan poppy seed roll or even a simple vinaigrette for salad. 

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds have a mild flavor that makes them easy to add raw to any dish, sweet or savory. Chia seeds also work well as a plant-forward substitute for eggs or as a pudding-base because of their natural thickening properties when soaked in liquid. 

Below are some of the Thistle Team’s favorite recipes incorporating chia seeds:

Sesame Seeds

Mmm, sesame seeds, another famous bagel topping – but it’s so much more than that. If you are like us, there’s no better snack than a freshly chopped crudité dunked in some homemade hummus – and you’re all the better for it! 

Tahini, a crucial ingredient for making an authentic hummus dip, is made of sesame seed paste. What’s more, garbanzo beans (or chickpeas) are also rich in calcium, making hummus the perfect calcium-rich snack. 

Tahini is also great as an alternative nut-butter (perfect paired on toast with the chia-raspberry jam) while the seeds become a centerpiece indulgence in easy-to-make snacks like sesame brittle. 

Beans

Beans and pulses are the base of many plant-based dishes, playing a big part in a nutritious plant-forward diet. White canned beans and garbanzo beans have a neutral  flavor and are rich in calcium and other nutrients, making them a versatile staple for many dishes. 

Nuts

 Nuts are another superfood that are essential for a healthy plant-forward diet. Almonds provide the most calcium at 8 % RDI in one serving. They can be integrated into so many different dishes, used whole, chopped or group into almond flour for baking. Because of their versatile nature, you can eat them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner – plus, they make the perfect healthy snack! 

Fruits and Vegetables

It might surprise you that leafy greens and milk have something in common – calcium! Collard greens, spinach, kale, and spirulina all contain high levels of calcium, and they are also packed with incredibly powerful antioxidants that provide all sorts of other health benefits.   

Fortified Foods

If you’re following a plant-based diet, chances are that you are already familiar with dairy-free milks, yogurts, cheeses, and even creams. Not only do these options make it easier to eat plant-forward without sacrificing your favorite meals (lasagna anyone?), but they could contribute to your calcium intake. Many dairy-alternatives, and even cereals, are fortified with the mineral so that you can be confident you and your family are getting the calcium you need. 

Final Takeaways 

At Thistle, we are dedicated to providing helpful information and advice on how to bring more plant-based ingredients into your life that offer an abundance of nutrients and flavors. 

Knowing what’s in your food is an important step in taking charge of your health and making the lifestyle choices that work best for you!


SOURCES:


Calcium Deficiency - an overview | Science Direct 

Calcium | Medical News Today

Telltale Signs That You’re Not Getting Enough Calcium | Cleveland Clinic

Calcium and Vitamin D: Important at Every Age | NIH 

Vitamin D and Calcium | Hormone

Vitamin D | NIH

Which Type of Milk is Healthiest? | US News 

Lactose intolerance| Medline Plus

poppy seed | Nutrition Data 

Strawberry-Poppy Seed Vinaigrette Recipe | My Recipes

chia seeds | Nutrition Data

sesame seeds | Nutrition Data

Beans, white | Nutrition Data

Top 15 Calcium-Rich Foods | Healthline

Top 20 Vegetables Highest in Calcium | MyFoodData

Dairy milk substitutes | Medical News Today  
What Is the Noom Diet? | LiveStrong

Get meals delivered to your door
We believe eating delicious is crucial to a healthy diet. Each week, our team of chefs design a new menu for what's in season, fresh and flavorful.
TRY THISTLE
Posted 
Jul 1, 2021
 in 
Nutrition
 category.
Summary

Top Calcium Sources for Vegans

If you’re trying to maintain a plant-forward diet, one of your concerns might be getting enough nutrients that are typically associated with meat and dairy. Fear not — essential vitamins and minerals are plentiful in a plant-forward diet with the right guidance. This article will focus on how to integrate calcium simply and deliciously into your diet so that you feel strong and ready to take on the day!

Calcium is a mineral the body requires to maintain bone density, muscle function, and to ensure effective communication between the brain and the body, amongst other essential functions. 

Calcium Basics

Humans cannot produce calcium, but without it, our bodies become weak. Calcium deficiency can contribute to disorders such as osteoporosis, hypocalcemia, and generally poor health. The recommended calcium intake reduces with age, however menopausal women should pay special attention to their daily intake, as hormonal changes can reduce bone density — highlighting the importance of enough calcium to help fortify bones.

Calcium is primarily stored in teeth and bones, keeping them strong but also making it hard to identify a deficiency. Knowing the daily recommended allowance of calcium for your age group as well as having a good knowledge of what plant-based foods are rich in calcium will help ensure you receive the right amount of nutrients your body needs. It’s good to know that Vitamin D works as calcium’s trusty sidekick by facilitating calcium absorption.

Vitamin D and Calcium

Despite its name, vitamin D is actually a hormone that is found in the body’s fatty tissue. Exposure to sunlight triggers the body’s production of Vitamin D – a worthwhile reason to get outside and enjoy the sunshine! 

There are very few foods that are a good source of vitamin D, so you may want to consider a daily supplement for optimal calcium absorption.  

Plant-Based Sources of Calcium

While heavy-handed marketing by big dairy companies might have you convinced that milk is the number one source of calcium, there are plenty of delicious alternatives rich in the mineral that are easy to incorporate into a healthy diet such as seeds, beans, lentils, nuts, leafy greens, fruits, tofu, as well as many vegan fortified foods and drinks – your morning iced latte with hemp milk should get you to half of your daily calcium intake! 

What’s more, lactose intolerance, caused by a deficiency of the lactase enzyme that breaks down milk sugar, affects around 65% of people – often without them knowing. Lactose intolerance can cause bloating, nausea, and other digestive issues that make calcium-rich alternatives to dairy an appealing option, whether you follow a plant-based diet or not. 

Seeds

Seeds are a fantastic source of protein and are easy to integrate into a diet. They mix well into most dishes – whether it be granola, salad, pasta, smoothies, sauces – you name it! Below are some examples of calcium rich seeds and ideas of how to eat them. 

Poppy Seeds

Usually regarded as the reserve of bagels, poppy seeds are staple ingredients in Eastern European and Indian cuisine. Not only do they add a nutty crunch to your meals, but they also provide a big portion of your calcium intake. When roasted, they can be easily ground into sauces and fillings such as for a delicious vegan poppy seed roll or even a simple vinaigrette for salad. 

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds have a mild flavor that makes them easy to add raw to any dish, sweet or savory. Chia seeds also work well as a plant-forward substitute for eggs or as a pudding-base because of their natural thickening properties when soaked in liquid. 

Below are some of the Thistle Team’s favorite recipes incorporating chia seeds:

Sesame Seeds

Mmm, sesame seeds, another famous bagel topping – but it’s so much more than that. If you are like us, there’s no better snack than a freshly chopped crudité dunked in some homemade hummus – and you’re all the better for it! 

Tahini, a crucial ingredient for making an authentic hummus dip, is made of sesame seed paste. What’s more, garbanzo beans (or chickpeas) are also rich in calcium, making hummus the perfect calcium-rich snack. 

Tahini is also great as an alternative nut-butter (perfect paired on toast with the chia-raspberry jam) while the seeds become a centerpiece indulgence in easy-to-make snacks like sesame brittle. 

Beans

Beans and pulses are the base of many plant-based dishes, playing a big part in a nutritious plant-forward diet. White canned beans and garbanzo beans have a neutral  flavor and are rich in calcium and other nutrients, making them a versatile staple for many dishes. 

Nuts

 Nuts are another superfood that are essential for a healthy plant-forward diet. Almonds provide the most calcium at 8 % RDI in one serving. They can be integrated into so many different dishes, used whole, chopped or group into almond flour for baking. Because of their versatile nature, you can eat them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner – plus, they make the perfect healthy snack! 

Fruits and Vegetables

It might surprise you that leafy greens and milk have something in common – calcium! Collard greens, spinach, kale, and spirulina all contain high levels of calcium, and they are also packed with incredibly powerful antioxidants that provide all sorts of other health benefits.   

Fortified Foods

If you’re following a plant-based diet, chances are that you are already familiar with dairy-free milks, yogurts, cheeses, and even creams. Not only do these options make it easier to eat plant-forward without sacrificing your favorite meals (lasagna anyone?), but they could contribute to your calcium intake. Many dairy-alternatives, and even cereals, are fortified with the mineral so that you can be confident you and your family are getting the calcium you need. 

Final Takeaways 

At Thistle, we are dedicated to providing helpful information and advice on how to bring more plant-based ingredients into your life that offer an abundance of nutrients and flavors. 

Knowing what’s in your food is an important step in taking charge of your health and making the lifestyle choices that work best for you!


SOURCES:


Calcium Deficiency - an overview | Science Direct 

Calcium | Medical News Today

Telltale Signs That You’re Not Getting Enough Calcium | Cleveland Clinic

Calcium and Vitamin D: Important at Every Age | NIH 

Vitamin D and Calcium | Hormone

Vitamin D | NIH

Which Type of Milk is Healthiest? | US News 

Lactose intolerance| Medline Plus

poppy seed | Nutrition Data 

Strawberry-Poppy Seed Vinaigrette Recipe | My Recipes

chia seeds | Nutrition Data

sesame seeds | Nutrition Data

Beans, white | Nutrition Data

Top 15 Calcium-Rich Foods | Healthline

Top 20 Vegetables Highest in Calcium | MyFoodData

Dairy milk substitutes | Medical News Today  
What Is the Noom Diet? | LiveStrong

Get meals delivered to your door
We believe eating delicious is crucial to a healthy diet. Each week, our team of chefs design a new menu for what's in season, fresh and flavorful.
TRY THISTLE
Posted 
Jul 1, 2021
 in 
Nutrition
 category.