Ensuring you get enough of the essential mineral calcium is important for so many of your body’s functions, including strengthening and maintaining healthy bones.
More than 50% of Australians aren't getting enough so we asked Nutritionist and Naturopath, Casey-Lee Lyons from Live Love Nourish for some simple and delicious ways to add more calcium into your diet.
Why do we need calcium?Calcium plays an important role in strengthening bones and teeth, muscle function (contracting and relaxing muscles), blood clotting, healthy heart function, sending and receiving nerve signals and the secretion of hormones and enzymes.
10 surprising food sources of calcium:Whilst dairy is the most commonly known food source of calcium, did you know there are also lots of other non-dairy sources? Here are 10 top surprising foods that provide a source of health-promoting calcium:
- Sesame seeds/ tahini (sesame seed paste)
- Chia seeds
- Fish with edible bones (e.g. sardines and tinned salmon)
- Dried figs
- Leafy green vegetables (such as bok choy, cooked kale and collard greens)
- Soy and tofu
- Bone broth
- Seaweed (also known as sea vegetables)
Delicious ways to get more calcium into your diet:Including calcium-rich foods into your diet like the ones above is important to ensure your calcium levels are maintained. Here’s how you can boost your calcium intake whilst adding flavour and texture using the surprising ingredients listed above:
- Sprinkle leafy green salads with KOJA Sesame and Almond Salad Topper
- Top your breakfasts (smoothies, yoghurt, porridge etc) with KOJA real food supplement Breakfast Toppers- the almonds, hazelnuts and chia seeds will boost your calcium content
- Make banana nice-cream with almond butter. Blend frozen banana with almond butter and a splash of almond milk until smooth and creamy. Top with chopped almonds, chia seeds or KOJA Breakfast Toppers (this is an amazing Summer treat you have to try!)
- Add chia seeds to your smoothies or smoothie bowls (this will make them extra thick and provide a source of protein too) or KOJA Breakfast Toppers to your smoothie
- Make kale chips!
- Roast broccoli florets (these are delicious tossed in garlic infused olive oil and roasted until crispy)
- Enjoy an Asian-inspired stir fry with bok choy and broccoli and top with toasted sesame seeds
- Sip on bone broth or use bone broth in your cooking. (You’ll be helping improve your gut health at the same time)
- Make fruit and nut bliss balls using dried figs and almonds
- Make a salad dressing with tahini (mix tahini with lemon juice and a touch of water) or drizzle tahini over your cooked vegetables for a creamy addition
- Whip up some pancakes with almond meal and top with Greek yoghurt
- Mash the edible bones in tinned salmon and mix with avocado, lemon juice and fresh herbs and serve on top of rounds of cucumber for a healthy protein-rich snack or light lunch
- Make homemade nori wraps using nori (seaweed sheets) or sprinkle your salads with shredded dried nori
- Make a nourishing poke bowl
How to maximise your calcium absorption:
- Make sure you have adequate vitamin D levels to help your body use calcium more efficiently. You can get vitamin D from sensible sun exposure and foods such as salmon and eggs (yolk).
- Ensure your gut health is on track. A healthy gut helps your body properly digest food sources of calcium.
- Magnesium is also important and necessary for your body to use calcium. Food sources of magnesium include dark green leafy vegetables, banana, avocado, figs, nuts and seeds (particularly cashews, almonds, brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds).
- Vitamin K is also an important vitamin for calcium synthesis. Vitamin K is found in dark green leafy vegetables such as kale and chard, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
This article was written by nutritionist and naturopath Casey-Lee Lyons from Live Love Nourish. Casey-Lee is passionate about helping others to feel and live their healthiest and best self. You can find more tips and healthy recipes on Casey-Lee’s website (www.livelovenourish.com.au) or follow her on Instagram (@livelovenourishaus) or Facebook (@livelovenourish).
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