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30 Sources of calcium-rich plant foods

calcium-rich plant foods

Discover 30 calcium-rich plant foods and their benefits! Learn why diverse, plant-based calcium sources are essential for overall health and well-being.

sesame seeds calcium

Why are plant sources of calcium so good for us?

Nutrient Diversity:

Plant-based sources of calcium often come with a variety of other essential nutrients, such as fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. Consuming a diverse range of nutrients supports overall health and well-being.

Heart Health:

Many plant-based sources of calcium, such as almonds and leafy greens, are low in saturated fats and may contribute to heart health. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and nuts has been associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Digestive Health:

Plant-based foods, especially those high in calcium like leafy greens, nuts, and seeds, are often rich in fiber. Adequate fiber intake promotes digestive health, helps prevent constipation, and supports a healthy gut microbiome.

Reduced Environmental Impact:

Plant-based calcium sources generally have a lower environmental impact compared to animal-based sources. Choosing plant-based options aligns with sustainable and eco-friendly dietary practices, contributing to environmental conservation.

Bone Health:

While calcium is crucial for bone health, it's not the only factor. Plant-based sources often contain other bone-supportive nutrients like magnesium, vitamin K, and potassium. Consuming a variety of plant foods contributes to overall bone health.

Reduced Risk of Chronic Diseases:

Plant-based diets have been associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and hypertension. The high nutrient density of plant foods contributes to this protective effect.

Reduced Risk of Hormonal Issues:

Some studies suggest that excessive consumption of animal proteins, including those from dairy, may be associated with hormonal imbalances. Choosing plant-based calcium sources can help maintain a balanced hormonal environment.

Lactose-Free Options:

Plant-based sources of calcium are naturally lactose-free, making them suitable for individuals who are lactose intolerant. This allows a broader population to meet their calcium needs without discomfort.

Weight Management:

Plant-based diets, when well-balanced, can contribute to healthy weight management. Incorporating calcium-rich plant foods can be part of a weight-friendly dietary approach.

Reduced Acidic Load:

Plant-based sources tend to have a lower acidic load than dairy. Excessive consumption of acidic foods may lead to the release of calcium from bones to buffer acidity, potentially affecting bone health.

Ethical Considerations:

Choosing plant-based sources aligns with ethical considerations for individuals concerned about animal welfare. Plant foods are obtained without the need for animal exploitation.


Lactose Intolerance

What are the problems with trying to get calcium from cow's milk?

While cow's milk is a traditional and widely consumed source of calcium, it is not without its drawbacks. Here are some potential issues associated with getting calcium from cow's milk:

Lactose Intolerance:

A significant portion of the global population is lactose intolerant, meaning they lack the enzyme lactase needed to properly digest lactose, the sugar found in milk. Consuming cow's milk can lead to digestive discomfort, bloating, and diarrhea for individuals with lactose intolerance.

Dairy Allergies:

Some people are allergic to proteins found in cow's milk, such as casein and whey. Dairy allergies can cause a range of symptoms, including skin rashes, digestive issues, respiratory problems, and, in severe cases, anaphylaxis.

Environmental Impact:

Dairy production, particularly industrial-scale farming, can have a significant environmental impact. Issues such as deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, and water pollution are associated with large-scale dairy farming.

Ethical Concerns:

There are ethical concerns related to the treatment of animals in industrial dairy farming. Many people choose plant-based alternatives due to concerns about the welfare of dairy cows, we'll talk a little more about this concern below.

High in Saturated Fat:

Whole milk and full-fat dairy products are high in saturated fat, which, when consumed in excess, can contribute to cardiovascular issues and elevated cholesterol levels. Some individuals opt for lower-fat dairy options, but even those can be relatively high in saturated fat.

Bone Health Controversy:

While dairy has long been promoted for bone health due to its calcium content, some studies suggest that high dairy consumption may not necessarily reduce the risk of fractures or improve bone health. Other factors such as vitamin D, magnesium, and overall diet also play crucial roles in bone health.

Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1):

Milk contains IGF-1, a hormone that plays a role in growth. Some studies have suggested a potential link between high levels of IGF-1 and an increased risk of certain cancers, although the evidence is not conclusive.

Acidic Load:

Milk is considered an acidic food, and excessive intake may contribute to an acidic load in the body. Some argue that this could potentially lead to bone demineralization as the body may release calcium to buffer the acidity.

Alternatives Available:

With the growing popularity of plant-based diets, there are now numerous plant-based milk alternatives that are fortified with calcium and offer a variety of flavors and nutritional profiles. These alternatives provide a viable option for individuals who choose to avoid cow's milk.

Factory Farm Dairy

Wait, don't cows just need to be milked all the time? Why is dairy an ethical issue?

The dairy industry involves the continuous milking of cows to meet human demand for cheese, ice cream, yogurt, milk and other dairy products. Cows don't produce milk all the time. They must have been pregnant, birthed their babies, and be lactating. The calves breast milk is what humans drink. The dairy industry often employs practices that have been criticized for their potential negative impact on animal welfare. Some reasons why aspects of the dairy industry are considered cruel include:

Calves Separation:

In commercial dairy farming, calves are typically separated from their mothers shortly after birth. This separation can cause distress to both the mother cow and the calf, as they form strong bonds during the initial days after birth. Male baby calves are often raised for veal or beef, while females baby calves may be raised to replace older dairy cows in the herd until milk production decreases and she is slaughtered.

Continuous Milking:

Cows are selectively bred to produce higher quantities of milk than they would naturally. This constant demand for milk production leads to physical stress on the cows, including udder infections and lameness. Overmilking without adequate rest periods can contribute to health issues.

Confinement and Housing Conditions:

In some industrial dairy operations, cows may be confined to small spaces, restricting their movement. Lack of access to pasture and inadequate housing conditions can contribute to physical and psychological stress.

Reproductive Manipulation:

Artificial insemination is commonly used in the dairy industry to control breeding and maximize milk production. While this practice is considered routine in the commercial dairy industry, it involves repetitively manipulating the reproductive processes of the cows.

Treatment of Sick or Injured Cows:

In some instances, sick or injured cows don't receive adequate veterinary care due to economic considerations. This can lead to unnecessary suffering for the animals.

Shortened Lifespan:

The intensive nature of modern dairy farming can lead to a shorter lifespan for dairy cows compared to their natural lifespan. Cows are typically slaughtered when their milk production decreases, and they are no longer deemed economically viable.

Transportation and Slaughter:

Cows that are no longer productive in the dairy industry may be sent to slaughter for meat production. The transportation and handling of these older animals is stressful, and concerns have been raised about the humane treatment of animals in the slaughter process.

It's important to note that not all dairy farms operate in the same way, and there are variations in practices across different regions and types of operations. Some farmers prioritize animal welfare and employ more humane practices, including providing access to pasture, avoiding routine use of antibiotics, and using more natural breeding methods.

Individuals concerned about the ethical treatment of animals in the dairy industry may choose to support certified organic or pasture-based dairy operations, as these systems often have standards that prioritize animal welfare. Additionally, some people choose plant-based alternatives to dairy as a way to avoid supporting practices in the dairy industry that they find objectionable.

Plant-based Calcium

What are some tips for ensuring that plant-based sources of calcium are well absorbed?

Ensuring optimal absorption of calcium from plant-based sources involves considering factors that can enhance or hinder absorption. Here are some tips to maximize the absorption of calcium from plant-based foods:

Pair Calcium-Rich Foods with Vitamin D:

Vitamin D enhances calcium absorption. Include plant-based sources of vitamin D, such as fortified plant milk or exposure to sunlight, along with your calcium-rich foods.

Combine Calcium with Vitamin K:

Vitamin K is essential for bone health and may enhance calcium utilization. Include dark, leafy greens like kale or collard greens in your diet, as they provide both calcium and vitamin K.

Manage Oxalate-Rich Foods:

Some plant foods contain oxalates, which can bind to calcium and reduce its absorption. While foods like spinach and beet greens are high in oxalates, they still contribute to overall calcium intake. Consider including a variety of calcium-rich foods to balance oxalate intake.

Balance Phosphorus Intake:

High levels of phosphorus, found in some processed foods and soft drinks, can interfere with calcium absorption. Aim for a balanced intake of phosphorus and calcium in your diet.

Prioritize Absorption-Friendly Greens:

Choose leafy greens like kale, bok choy, and collard greens that provide calcium along with lower oxalate levels, potentially enhancing absorption.

Soak, Sprout, or Ferment Grains and Legumes:

Soaking, sprouting, or fermenting grains and legumes can help reduce anti-nutrients like phytates, which can inhibit calcium absorption.

Diversify Your Calcium Sources:

Consume a variety of plant-based foods rich in calcium to ensure you get a broad spectrum of nutrients. This also helps compensate for any potential inhibitors in specific foods.

Consume Calcium Throughout the Day:

Distribute your calcium intake throughout the day rather than in one large meal. This allows for better absorption as your body can only absorb a certain amount of calcium at a time.

Limit Sodium Intake:

Excessive sodium can increase calcium excretion through urine. Be mindful of your salt intake and opt for whole, minimally processed foods.

Exercise Regularly:

Weight-bearing exercises can promote bone health and calcium absorption.

Incorporate activities like walking, jogging, or resistance training into your routine.

Remember that individual needs vary, and consulting with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian can provide personalized advice based on your specific circumstances and dietary preferences.


ways to add more plant foods


Calcium needs for women over 40

How much calcium does a woman over 40 need each day?

The recommended daily calcium intake for women over 40 varies depending on factors such as age, hormonal status, and overall health. The general guidelines provided by health organizations, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States, suggest the following daily calcium recommendations for women:

Pre-Menopausal Women (ages 19-50):

1,000 milligrams of calcium per day

Post-Menopausal Women (ages 51 and older):

1,200 milligrams of calcium per day

It's important to note that these recommendations are for total calcium intake from both dietary sources and supplements combined. Additionally, women over 40 should also ensure an adequate intake of vitamin D, magnesium, and other nutrients that contribute to bone health and calcium absorption.

Individual calcium needs can vary based on factors such as genetics, hormonal changes, lifestyle, and overall health. Some women may require more or less calcium depending on their specific circumstances. Therefore, it's advisable for individuals to consult with healthcare professionals or registered dietitians to determine their specific calcium requirements based on factors such as bone health, dietary habits, and potential risk factors.

Always seek personalized advice from healthcare professionals for the most accurate guidance tailored to your individual health conditions.


30 Sources of Calcium-Rich Plant Foods

30 Sources of Calcium-Rich Plant Foods
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It's important to note that the calcium content can vary depending on factors like preparation and brands (especially with fortified foods). The values below are approximate and can serve as a general guide. The amounts are given per 100 grams for consistency, but keep in mind that serving sizes can vary.

  1. Sesame Seeds (whole):

    1. Calcium: 975 mg

    2. Serving Size: 100 grams

  2. Chia Seeds: These tiny seeds are not only rich in omega-3 fatty acids but also in calcium.

    1. Calcium: 631 mg

    2. Serving Size: 100 grams

  3. Almonds: Almonds, especially almond butter, contain calcium. (Also, LESS water intensive than cow dairy)

    1. Calcium: 264 mg

    2. Serving Size: 100 grams

  4. Tofu (Firm): Firm tofu is an excellent source of calcium.

    1. Calcium: 350 mg

    2. Serving Size: 100 grams

  5. Tempeh: A fermented soy product rich in calcium.

    1. Calcium: 184 mg

    2. Serving Size: 100 grams

  6. White Beans (cooked): Cannellini beans, navy beans, and other white beans contain calcium.

    1. Calcium: 143 mg

    2. Serving Size: 100 grams

  7. Figs (dried): Dried figs are a tasty source of calcium.

    1. Calcium: 162 mg

    2. Serving Size: 100 grams

  8. Fortified Plant Milk (e.g., soy): Many plant-based milk alternatives (soy, almond, oat, etc.) are fortified with calcium. Just as cows milk is fortified with various vitamins.

    1. Calcium: Varies (check product label)

    2. Serving Size: 240 ml (1 cup)

  9. Edamame: Young, green soybeans are a good source of calcium.

    1. Calcium: 60 mg

    2. Serving Size: 100 grams

  10. Kale: One of the most calcium-rich leafy greens.

    1. Calcium: 254 mg

    2. Serving Size: 100 grams

  11. Collard Greens:

    1. Calcium: 232 mg

    2. Serving Size: 100 grams

  12. Bok Choy (cooked):

    1. Calcium: 158 mg

    2. Serving Size: 100 grams

  13. Broccoli (cooked): A cruciferous vegetable that provides a good amount of calcium.

    1. Calcium: 47 mg

    2. Serving Size: 100 grams

  14. Amaranth (cooked): A grain that is high in calcium.

    1. Calcium: 159 mg

    2. Serving Size: 100 grams

  15. Mustard Greens: These greens are rich in calcium.

    1. Calcium: 115 mg

    2. Serving Size: 100 grams

  16. Black-eyed Peas (cooked): Legumes that provide calcium.

    1. Calcium: 45 mg

    2. Serving Size: 100 grams

  17. Quinoa (cooked): A versatile seed that acts like a grain that contains calcium.

    1. Calcium: 29 mg

    2. Serving Size: 100 grams

  18. Hazelnuts: Hazelnuts are another type of nuts with a decent calcium content.

    1. Calcium: 114 mg

    2. Serving Size: 100 grams

  19. Tahini: Sesame seed paste commonly used in hummus.

    1. Calcium: 426 mg

    2. Serving Size: 100 grams

  20. Sunflower Seeds: These seeds are a good source of calcium.

    1. Calcium: 120 mg

    2. Serving Size: 100 grams

  21. Arugula: A leafy green with a good amount of calcium.

    1. Calcium: 160 mg

    2. Serving Size: 100 grams

  22. Pinto Beans (cooked): Another type of beans that contribute to calcium intake.

    1. Calcium: 45 mg

    2. Serving Size: 100 grams

  23. Chickpeas (cooked): Chickpeas, whether in salads or hummus, provide calcium.

    1. Calcium: 49 mg

    2. Serving Size: 100 grams

  24. Blackstrap Molasses: A sweetener that is high in calcium.

    1. Calcium: 205 mg

    2. Serving Size: 100 grams

  25. Fortified Cereals (varies): Certain cereals, especially whole grain and fortified ones, contain added calcium.

    1. Calcium: Varies (check product label)

    2. Serving Size: Varies (check product label)

  26. Dried Apricots: A dried fruit that contains calcium.

    1. Calcium: 67 mg

    2. Serving Size: 100 grams

  27. Oranges: Oranges and orange juice fortified with calcium.

    1. Calcium: 40 mg

    2. Serving Size: 100 grams

  28. Spinach (cooked): While it contains calcium, it also has oxalates that can inhibit its absorption - so mix up your greens.

    1. Calcium: 136 mg

    2. Serving Size: 100 grams

  29. Soybeans (cooked): Whole soybeans or roasted soybean snacks are rich in calcium.

    1. Calcium: 102 mg

    2. Serving Size: 100 grams

  30. Okra: A vegetable commonly grown in the south.

    1. Calcium: 82 mg

    2. Serving Size: 100 grams

Remember, the actual amount of calcium you absorb can be influenced by various factors, including the presence of other nutrients and compounds in the food. It's always a good idea to have a diverse and balanced diet for overall nutritional health.

Tofu Stir Fry

What are some plant-calcium-rich recipe ideas?

Incorporating plant-based, calcium-rich foods into your diet can be delicious and varied. Here are some recipe ideas that feature plant-based sources of calcium:

1. Creamy Spinach and Kale Stuffed Mushrooms: Servings: 4 servings

Calcium Estimate per Serving: Around 112-125 mg


Large mushrooms (4)

Fresh spinach and kale (2 cups each)

Tofu (1 cup)

Garlic, onions, and spices


Sauté garlic and onions, add chopped spinach and kale, and cook until wilted.

Blend tofu until creamy, mix with sautéed greens, and stuff into mushroom caps.

Bake until mushrooms are tender.

2. Quinoa and Black Bean Stuffed Peppers: Servings: 4 servings

Calcium Estimate per Serving: Around 100-113 mg


Bell peppers (4)

Cooked quinoa (2 cups)

Black beans (1 can)

Corn, diced tomatoes, and onions

Avocado (1)


Mix quinoa, black beans, corn, tomatoes, and onions.

Stuff bell peppers with the mixture and bake until peppers are tender.

Top with sliced avocado before serving.

3. Almond and Berry Smoothie Bowl:

Servings: 1 serving

Calcium Estimate per Serving: Around 250-300 mg


Frozen mixed berries (1 cup)

Almond milk (1 cup)

Almond butter (2 tablespoons)

Chia seeds and granola (for topping)


Blend mixed berries with almond milk and almond butter until smooth.

Pour into a bowl and top with chia seeds and granola for added calcium.

4. Sesame-Crusted Tofu Stir-Fry:

Servings: 4 servings

Calcium Estimate per Serving: Around 100-113 mg


Firm tofu, sliced into cubes (1 block)

Broccoli, bell peppers, and snap peas (2 cups each)

Soy sauce, sesame oil, and ginger

Sesame seeds (for coating)


Coat tofu cubes in sesame seeds and pan-fry until golden brown.

Stir-fry vegetables with ginger, add tofu, and drizzle with a soy-sesame sauce.

5. Kale and Cannellini Bean Soup:

Servings: 6 servings

Calcium Estimate per Serving: Around 83-92 mg


Chopped kale (4 cups)

Cannellini beans (2 cans)

Vegetable broth, tomatoes, onions, and garlic

Italian herbs and spices


Sauté onions and garlic, add kale, beans, tomatoes, and broth.

Simmer until kale is tender, season with Italian herbs, and serve.

6. Chia Seed Pudding:

Servings: 2 servings

Calcium Estimate per Serving: Around 125-150 mg


Chia seeds (1/2 cup)

Almond milk or coconut milk (1.5 cups)

Vanilla extract and a sweetener of choice

Fresh fruit (for topping)


Mix chia seeds, milk, vanilla, and sweetener; refrigerate overnight.

Top with fresh fruit before serving.

7. Cauliflower and Tahini Buddha Bowl:

Servings: 2 servings

Calcium Estimate per Serving: Around 150-175 mg


Roasted cauliflower florets (2 cups)

Quinoa or brown rice (1 cup cooked)

Chickpeas (1 can, roasted or sautéed)

Tahini dressing


Assemble a bowl with quinoa, roasted cauliflower, chickpeas, and drizzle with tahini dressing.

These recipes are not only rich in plant-based calcium sources but also offer a variety of flavors and textures to keep your meals exciting and satisfying. Adjust the ingredients to suit your taste preferences and enjoy the benefits of a well-rounded, plant-powered diet.


ways to add more plant foods

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