Calcium is found in plants, and not just in the usual products we have been taught in school. From a young age we learn how important calcium is for muscles and bones, but we do not learn where to find this necessary mineral. When you begin a vegan lifestyle, there should be no concern about protein or calcium, because there is plenty of it available.
So, where do we find calcium, in which plants or grains? I have compiled here a list of leafy greens, non-dairy drinks and products, fruits, and seeds. With this, and my previous list of vegan protein sources, you should be good to go on your vegan journey – or literature, if you’re just browsing here 😉 )
Best Vegan Calcium Sources
Chia and flax seeds have good amounts of calcium. Tahini – which is a butter made from sesame seeds – provides 130 mg per two tablespoons, so that is a pretty large amount.
Almonds and Brazil nuts have a lot of calcium, although all nuts have this important mineral. Almonds and Brazil nuts, however, are the big winners here.
Note: Nevertheless, don’t go nuts with them. The recommended serving of almonds per day is around 23.
As for Brazil nuts, you should only eat two per day. I know, that’s disappointing, isn’t it? They’re so good! The thing about Brazil nuts is that they are very high in selenium, and too much selenium can cause brittle hair and nails.
There aren’t many grains that offer calcium, but amaranth and teff provide a pretty good amount.
Edamame is a yummy snack and rich in calcium. So are tofu, tempeh, and natto. When they are minimally processed, they are also a great source of protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Fortified Foods and Drinks
Plant milks are a great source of calcium too. They have calcium added during the manufacturing process. Many of them also have the B vitamins, including B12. If you want to be sure, it is best to check the ingredient list on the product, because not all plant milks are always fortified.
Foods that are fortified with calcium are the following:
- Plant yogurt (have you tried plant yogurt made of coconut milk? Yummy!)
- Certain cereals
- Flour (sometimes, again, check the label)
- Cornmeal (sometimes, best to check the label)
Beans, Peas, and Lentils
Ah, here come the beans again, that wonder food! If you read my previous article about beans, you know what I mean 😉
- White beans
- Navy beans
- Black beans
- Kidney beans
Besides calcium, beans are also a great source of fiber, protein, and many other nutrients.
Some fruits are also good calcium sources. One fig, for example, provides 18 mg. Dried figs give a little less (13mg). Orange, blackberries, blackcurrants, and raspberries also make excellent calcium sources, not to mention the other vitamins and minerals that are found in fruits.
Green Leafy Vegetables
There are many vegetables that have calcium, such as bok choy, collard greens, okra, kale, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, turnip, and mustard, but some of them contain anti-nutrients such as oxalate.
What does oxalate do? It binds with calcium to get rid of extra amounts of it in your body. So, when plants have calcium and a high level of oxalate, your body doesn’t always easily absorb the calcium.
That is why vegetables with a lower amount of oxalates are better sources, allowing your body to absorb more calcium. Broccoli, kale, and turnip are vegetables with fewer oxalates. Yes, kale, sorry, I know that many don’t like it, it can have a bitter taste, but it all depends on how you prepare it. Have you ever tried kale chips? Or a power bomb green smoothie?
Kale chips recipe is coming up. I promise you, once you try this, you’re hooked. It is so good!
- A bundle of kale
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil
- Seasonings of your choice
- That could be salt and pepper, curry, paprika powder, ground cumin, nutritional yeast (that gives it a yummy cheesy flavor)
- Preheat oven to 107C (or 225F)
- Rinse and dry kale. Then divide it into small pieces. Do not use the stem.
- Add to a large bowl and drizzle with oil and seasonings of your choice. The recommended dosage is one or two tablespoons of seasoning, but sometimes I add more to increase the flavor.
- Toss the kale to combine the oil and seasonings, or mix with your hands.
- Spread kale over two large baking sheets, making sure that the pieces are nicely separated. (the less the pieces touch during baking, the crispier they will get)
- Bake for 15 minutes
- Toss or stir kale around a little, to allow even baking.
- When kale is crispy or slightly brown, remove trays from the oven
- Let it cool for a little
- Eat right away. You’ll be addicted, just like I am. I love kale chips!
Note: You can store these chips for 2 or 3 days at room temperature. I have placed them in the fridge too, that works fine, but they cannot be frozen.
Good For the Bones
In conclusion, calcium is – as we already know – important for bones and muscles, and also for circulatory and nervous systems. Dairy is not the only calcium source as it is often advertised, and now that we have looked at this list here, we can see that this mineral is present in many natural plant foods. Did I mention that you even find calcium in seaweed and blackstrap molasses? There you go, two more healthy and delicious sources. 🙂
Enjoy your kale chips! I know you will love them! Let me know in the comments if you have any more questions 🙂