Calcium is a critical mineral that helps build strong bones and teeth while simultaneously helps to regulate blood pressure. It is crucial to get the full amount of calcium daily to prevent future disease. Unsurprisingly, dairy products dominate the top of the list, followed by protein-containing foods, fortified foods and leafy green vegetables.
Yogurt is one of the best ways to get your calcium intake up without piling on all the fat of most dairy products. An 8-ounce container of plain nonfat yogurt contains 452 mg of calcium with very few calories. Lowfat yogurt contains only slightly less, at 415 mg. Yogurt can be made into a light meal by mixing it with fruits, granola or nuts, or enjoy it frozen or mixed into a smoothie.
Cheese is nearly as high in calcium as yogurt. Romano cheese contains 452 mg calcium per 1.5 ounces, equal to 8-ounces of yogurt. Swiss cheese contains around 336 mg calcium, with ricotta, processed-fortified American cheddar, provolone, mozzarella and real cheddar following close behind. Need a healthy way to take in all that cheese? Instead of spreading it on a plate of nachos, consider pairing it with fruit (such as apples or pears) or crumble it on top of a leafy salad.
It should not come as a shock that milk finds its way to the top half of the list. The milk industry's advertising campaign has firmly planted the calcium-rich image into consumer's minds over the past decade. However, in comparison, milk does not contain as much calcium in an 8-ounce portion as yogurt does. One 8-ounce serving of milk contains around 300 mg of calcium. Skim milk has slightly more, and whole milk has slightly less.
Cereals are not naturally rich in calcium; however, many manufacturers fortify breakfast cereals to contain high quantities of calcium. Fortified cereals can range anywhere from 236 to 1,043 mg of calcium per serving.
Plain soy milk does not contain a sufficient amount of calcium. The majority of commercial soy milks, however, are fortified to contain high levels of calcium to match or surpass the calcium levels of milk. One 8 -ounce serving of fortified soy milk contains 368 mg calcium, around 70 mg higher than cow's milk.
Other soy products, such as tofu, also contain high percentages of calcium. One cup of tofu contains 253 mg calcium and an amazingly minimal amount of calories.
Fish in general are naturally high in calcium and should be regularly incorporated into a healthy diet. A mere 3 ounces of sardines comes packed with 325 mg of calcium. Sardines are an acquired taste, so consider sauteing them in olive oil and mixing them into a pasta sauce, sprinkling on a salad or topping a pizza with them.
Though not as calcium rich as sardines, salmon contains 181 mg of calcium in a 3-ounce serving. Though it contains less calcium per volume than sardines, for many people salmon is a more palatable choice and can be consumed in larger quantities.
Leafy green vegetables contain a surprisingly high amount of calcium for a mere 1-cup serving. The most calcium rich of the leafy greens are mustard greens (315 mg), collards (309 mg), chicory (218), kale (137), turnip greens (105 mg) and dandelion (103 mg).
Strange as it seems, molasses contains a high percentage of calcium: 172 mg per tablespoon. To increase your use of molasses, consider substituting molasses form sugar in various recipes and feel less guilty when munching on a gingerbread man.
Adding whole grains to your diet can be beneficial to many sectors of health, including heart health and blood pressure. Whole grains contain calcium, whereas bleached flour does not. One slice of rye or whole bread contains about 10 mg of calcium, and a 50-gram serving of muesli cereal contains about 25 mg.