Calcium is an essential nutrient and one that many people today are lacking in their diets. This can be especially true if you are following a vegan or dairy-free diet. Luckily, there are plenty of sources for calcium that don’t require milk products and that are 100% vegetable-derived.
Benefits of Calcium in Diet
Calcium has many benefits for your body. Primarily, it is a building block for your skeletal and muscular system. Working in conjunction with other minerals, calcium strengthens bones, teeth, and joints. It also reacts with many chemicals in your body to support your blood stream, liver and other organs.
It’s been proven to not only improve bone density, but also to help regulate blood pressure and can even help reduce weight gain.
The calcium you get naturally from food is more easily absorbed and better utilized by your body than the relatively inert calcium supplements you buy off the shelf. Called bio-available calcium, these natural sources have been proven to be more beneficial.
List of Calcium Rich Vegetables
There are many calcium-rich vegetables to choose from. Here are some calcium-rich veggies in order of their calcium content per pound. You’ll notice that many of these can easily be grown in your backyard garden!
- Firm tofu
- Collard greens
- Soybeans and soy nuts
- Soy milk
- Bok choy
- Cabbage (esp. Chinese)
- Mustard greens
- Bush-type beans
Many other vegetables have relatively low levels of calcium, and will also contain complementary nutrients and minerals like selenium, which has been shown essential for calcium absorption. These include carrots and many dark green leafy vegetables like spinach. In addition, many fish types are also calcium-rich, as is black strap molasses.
Growing Calcium-Rich Vegetables
Improving the calcium levels of your garden vegetables is fairly easy. Most organic growers will add eggshells (cleaned and crushed) to their compost or soil. Spoiled milk or dairy products can also be poured on the garden in the off-season to fortify it. Adding calcium fertilizer (lime) is another option. Properly rotating your crops to prevent soil depletion is always a good idea.