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Non-dairy calcium foods are good for you

By Tracy Gesare

Plant-based sources of calcium remain as the safest option because of their farm freshness and lack of processed chemicals. Photo: courtesy

Calcium is considered the most important mineral in the body. One of the reasons being, it is the most abundant mineral in the body responsible for forming and maintaining healthy teeth and bones. An adequate level of calcium in the body will prevent the bones from breaking easily, a condition medically referred to as osteoporosis.

Furthermore, calcium aids the blood to clot easily and release the right amount of hormones for the body to function in its optimum. In addition to those key functions, calcium helps the body keep a normal heartbeat, helps with the transmission of nerve signals and muscle relaxation.

The body needs the highest levels of calcium during growth, i.e. in children under the age of 12 due to the fact that that is when the body is in full bloom including height. In adults, calcium is needed in higher amounts during pregnancy (for women) and older people of above 50 years of age.

With recent researches linking cancer and its causes to processed milk which happens to be one of the highest sources of calcium, then we need to look into other reliable sources and incorporate them in our diet. Plant-based sources of calcium remain as the safest option because of their farm freshness and lack of processed chemicals. These are also great choices for people with lactose intolerance.

Dark green/leafy vegetables: Traditional vegetables (kunde, managu, etc) sukuma wiki, spinach, collards, broccoli, turnip greens, bok choy are some of the endless options in this category of calcium-rich plants. Consuming these vegetables raw or appropriately cooked with little to no spice or additives, go a long way in nourishing our bodies.

Butternut, sweet potatoes and pumpkin: Boiling these alone is sufficient for their consumption. Even better, they can be blended and mixed with nuts, vegetables or seeds and had as a “snack” or a nutritious light meal. Any of these three options are easy to include in any range of dishes including fried and baked dishes.

Seeds: They are easy to incorporate in a diet because they can be grounded, blended, cooked or boiled or eaten raw, whatever your preference, they will fit. A great example being sesame, amaranth, celery, and chia are some of the most calcium packed in addition to having other nutrients combined.

Plant-based milk: Milk from any other source could still serve as milk especially for the young ones who their growth very much depends on calcium. Quinoa milk, soy milk, macadamia milk, coconut milk, rice milk, oat milk can substitute animal milk greatly and even better, these products contain little to no lactose. However, the calcium levels may vary depending on the source. It is therefore important to pay attention to the number of minerals needed and what not to overdo.

This does not serve as an alternative for medical care, in case you have a health problem seek medical advice. In case you need to put any of these into practice, seek advice from a licensed nutritionist.

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