Welcome to Day 13 of The 14 Days of Simplicity!
When telling someone new that I do not eat dairy, I am inevitably asked, “So, how do you get your calcium?” Actually, contrary to popular belief, many non-dairy foods contain calcium, and pasterized and homogienized milk actually has relatively a very low amount available after processing has occurred to get it on the fridge shelves at your nearest grocer.
From nuts and seeds to vegetables, even some fruit, foods from all of these groups as well as beans and grains can provide calcium that is very well absorbed. Typically, about 30 percent of the calcium in dairy products is absorbed. That same 30 percent is absorbed from foods fortified with calcium. Green vegetables are the true prize-winners when it comes to calcium; more than half of the calcium in green vegetables like kale, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage is absorbed.
Vegetables Provide Calcium
With a few exceptions, if a vegetable is green and has leaves, it is a good source of calcium. Calcium-rich vegetables include bok choy, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, and turnip greens. Even some nonleafy vegetables, including okra and butternut squash, supply some calcium. Calcium is added to some commercial vegetable juices also—check the label for 30 percent calcium.
A few foods contain oxalic acid, a substance that can interfere with calcium absorption from those foods. While food charts make spinach, Swiss chard, beet greens, rhubarb, and sweet potatoes are great sources of calcium, the oxalic acid in them can keep some people from absorbing much calcium from them. It is important when steaming these to discard of their water, as well, and variety truly is the key!
You could get close to the calcium RDA of 1,000 milligrams by eating about 4–5 cups of cooked kale, collards, or turnip greens, and for someone who really loves greens, that is not impossible. Assuming you’d prefer to rely on some other foods also, it’s still possible to get a generous dose of calcium from green vegetables without eating several bowls of them a day. You can add finely chopped greens to soups, chili, or other stews, curries, pasta sauce, grains (green rice, anyone?), and mashed potatoes. Try sautéing chopped greens in a little olive oil and seasoning them with garlic and lemon juice. Add greens to stir-fries. Mild, tender greens like kale can be finely shredded and added to tossed salads or used in place of lettuce on burritos or wraps. You can also add many of your greens such as spinach, kale and collards to your smoothies and by far one of the easiest ways to ‘prepare’ greens and get the most bang for your buck in terms of serving size and time commitment is by juicing them.
Some other incredible sources of calcium to add into your healthy eating lifestyle:
- Blackstrap Molasses
- Figs fresh and dried
- Enriched rice, almond, oat, hemp and flax milk – each of these have 30% of your RDA of calcium, the same as cows milk, however, in these forms the calcium is much easier to absorb because the non-dairy milks themselves are easier on your body to digest.
- Dark leafy greens
- Salmon with bones
- Sesame seeds
- Almonds (the highest calcium source of all nuts)
- Almond Butter
- Black beans
- Navy Beans
- Great Northern Beans
- Organic soybeans/edamame
- Organic Non-GMO Tofu
- Butternut Squash
The Dairy Debate, is a hot-topic for many and has been for quite some time. We are very emotionally connected to our milk and the fact that majority of us were all raised on it. My best piece of advice in deciding whether or not to keep dairy as part of your diet or remove it, is to begin to educate yourself in as many ways as you can and to try the difference for yourself.
If you have no issues of:
Asthma, allergies, rashes, eczema, psoriasis, acne, severe PMS, irregular cycles, runny nose, sinus infections, ear infections, recurrence of bronchitis and/or pneumonia, frequent colds, flus and sore throats, headaches, constipation, diarrhea, hyperactivity, poor sleep, stomach aches, fatigue or irritability and feeling addicted to milk where you crave it and must have some everyday…
Then you might choose to stay with cow’s milk, I would recommend organic if possible.
The above list of symptoms are not always related to only milk consumption, they are are usually other culprits in there too but most of the time dairy is part of the picture.
I also FIRMLY believe in testing out any level of information of yourself. The most reliable way of knowing whether or not something is resonating with you, balancing you or stressing your system is by either pulling it out or adding more in. Your body doesn’t lie, regardless of what any study states or shows or even what I am telling you here.
Take everything you read and think about it, really think about what it means to you and if it has any impact on you.
Always listen to your gut and the guru within.
Have some sweet dreams everyone!