By Meghan Charpentier, Cabarrus Health Alliance
Photo: Evergreen Planet, Getty Images
We’ve all heard the saying, “milk is good for your
bones.” But, do you know why calcium is important, regardless of age, and can be found in more
than just milk?
Calcium intake is necessary at all stages of life.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in our bodies
thanks to our bones and teeth. Not only does it help
keep bones strong, but it aids in muscle function and
nerve signaling, making calcium a necessary ingredient for daily routines.
As we get older, calcium intake often reduces. This
affects absorption rates and causes us to become
less efficient at maintaining the minimum amount
of calcium the body needs to function. Therefore,
it is especially important to keep our calcium levels
consistent and body satisfied.
We must also err on the side of caution when consuming too much sodium, protein or caffeine. These sources
may compromise total calcium levels by decreasing
total absorption and instead promote calcium excretion.
We naturally think of dairy products, such as yogurt,
cheese and milk, as the main sources of calcium.
While these foods will certainly help you reach your
daily minimum, it may cause your daily maximum of
saturated fat and sugar to go off balance.
How can you take control?
Choose other forms of calcium-rich foods.
By choosing leafy greens, you not only add to your
recommended amount of calcium, but you also contribute to your fiber and vegetable servings, which is
also easy to overlook.
Whether raw or cooked, just a one-cup serving of
leafy greens like collards, Chinese cabbage (such as
bok choy), kale and broccoli may offer up to 10 percent or more of the required milligrams of calcium
you need in a day.
A typical salad has three cups of greens. One cup
of arugula packs 125 milligrams of calcium, which
means one plain arugula salad could offer 375 milligrams of calcium. Or, add a calcium-packed side
dish to your meals, as one cup of cooked collards
has 275 milligrams and one cup of steamed broccoli
has 75 milligrams of calcium. For comparison, an
average cup of nonfat Greek yogurt has 185 milligrams of calcium.
So, next time you reach for your calcium-packed
snack for the day, go for the dark, leafy greens. n
Join the Cabarrus Health Alliance for
an upcoming Healthy Cooking Class
in their Wellness Kitchen. Visit
or call 704-920-1324 to learn more.