We are often led to believe that we must eat cheese and other dairy products to boost our calcium intake, but this simply isn’t true. In fact, there are plenty of calcium-rich foods that are vegan, highly nutritious, and readily available to cook with!
Calcium is responsible for protecting our teeth and bones, supporting healthy muscle function, and preventing conditions such as osteoporosis, so check out these five vegan calcium-rich food ideas and recipe suggestions to increase your intake of this essential mineral.
Five vegan calcium-rich foods
Calcium is an important ingredient in our diet. Calcium-rich foods help protects your teeth and bones. Oftentimes calciums are obtained through dairy products such as yogurt, cheese, and milk. However, for vegans, these are not an option, thus, it is important to know your vegan calcium-rich food, so you are obtained all the nutrients you can get!
Vegan Calcium-Rich Food #1: Calcium-set Tofu
Tofu is a vegan food staple that is highly versatile and packed full of important nutrients. It can be fried, baked or boiled, depending on your preferences, and can be used as a low-fat meat substitute to suit every cuisine. When set with calcium sulphate, tofu is also a rich source of calcium!
Next time you buy tofu from the supermarket, make sure to read the packet; although many brands use calcium sulphate, it’s always best to double-check.
Tasty tofu meal ideas:
- Scramble small chunks of tofu with garlic, mushrooms and turmeric to replace egg in cooked breakfasts or sandwiches.
- Slice, season and fry tofu sticks in sesame oil and serve alongside kale and brown rice.
- Add cubes of tofu to ramen with mushrooms, bok choy and fresh chilli.
Calcium-Rich Vegetable: Broccoli
Broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse! When boiled or steamed, this cruciferous vegetable is low in calories, fat and sugar, and contains high levels of protein, potassium, fibre and the vitamins A, C, E, K and B. It is also a modest source of calcium, with approximately 43mg of calcium in every cup of chopped broccoli (Higuera et al.)
To ensure you are getting the most from the broccoli in your diet, make sure you are eating at least 10 florets as part of a serving. This is easy to do when incorporating broccoli into your favorite vegan dishes!
Health-boosting broccoli meal ideas:
- Add broccoli to a stir-fry with calcium-set tofu, leafy green vegetables and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.
- Combine broccoli with fortified soya milk, flour and dairy-free butter for a creamy, cheese-like pasta sauce.
- Steam broccoli to enjoy on the side of whole grain rice and marinated tofu. Finish with a drizzle of sticky peanut glaze.
Tiny yet Calcium Rich: Sesame Seeds
If you’re looking for vegan calcium-rich foods that you can incorporate into snacks and meals without fuss, then sesame seeds may become your new favorite ingredient! In addition to offering high levels of fiber, protein, and some important B vitamins, a serving of just one tablespoon of dried sesame seeds offers up to 87.75mg of calcium (Sesame Seed Nutrition Facts).
Sesame seeds are one of the most versatile vegan foods available, so including this calcium-rich food in your diet is very easy! One extremely simple way is to stir tahini (sesame seed paste) into soups and curries.
Calcium-heavy sesame seed recipes:
- Blend chickpeas, tahini and spices and fry to create falafel. Serve with pickled vegetables and toasted bread.
- Toast sesame seeds to sprinkle across salads, soups and stir-fries.
- Serve tahini as a dip with sliced cucumbers, carrots and peppers, alongside fortified dairy-free yoghurt and hummus for an extra dose of calcium.
Calcium-fortified soya milk
Did you know that milliliter for milliliter, fortified soya milk contains the same amount of calcium as dairy milk? A 100ml serving of enriched soya milk offers 120mg of calcium, which is more than a 30g serving of cheddar cheese (Shubrook). Many people use milk multiple times a day, from pouring a splash in coffee to preparing a bowl of breakfast cereal, so there are lots of opportunities to boost your calcium intake!
It’s important to make sure you are choosing fortified soya milk to reap the health benefits available. Luckily, many leading brands now enrich their products to make calcium-rich vegan diets more accessible.
Vegan calcium-rich food and drinks:
- Blend plant milk with a selection of fruit and chia seeds for a nutrient-dense smoothie.
- Use plant milk to make creamy oatmeal and top with fresh fruit, dried fruit and peanut butter.
- Combine unsweetened plant milk with nutritional yeast, mustard, garlic and a pinch of salt for a delectable carbonara pasta sauce.
Vegan Calcium-Rich Food: Dried Fruits
Snacking on dried fruit can not only help to conquer sugar cravings, but it is also a healthy way to increase your calcium intake on a vegan diet. Dried fruit such as apricots, figs, raisins, and prunes taste fantastic in savory and sweet dishes and can be stored in your cupboards for weeks on end.
Including more dried fruit in your diet is a piece of cake! Simply grab a handful to enjoy on your commute or swap biscuits and cakes for fruit and nut mix.
Delicious dried fruit recipes:
- Stir chopped dried apricots into a Moroccan tagine with chickpeas and kale.
- Combine raisins and almonds with fortified dairy-free cream and spices for an aromatic curry.
- Top oatmeal with an assortment of dried fruits, nuts and fresh berries to sweeten.
Don’t forget! Vegan Calcium-Rich Food Tip
To help your body absorb calcium effectively, you must also boost your vitamin D intake! Sunlight is one of the best natural sources of vitamin D, but you should also include vegan foods such as mushrooms, fortified cereal and fortified orange juice in your diet for extra nutritional value.
As plant-based food enthusiasts, we are always excited to find new recipes and ways of cooking. What are your favourite vegan calcium-rich food sources?
Interested in knowing more about vegan food in general?
How about vegan food with omega-3?
If you are still not sure about vegan in general, here is an article dedicated to vegan.
Check out the articles above for more information!
Higuera, Valencia, et al. “What Is Broccoli? Nutrition, Health Benefits, How to Prepare It, and More: Everyday Health.” EverydayHealth.com, www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/diet/broccoli-nutrition-health-benefits-how-prepare-it-more/#nutrition-facts.
“Sesame Seed Nutrition Facts.” Health Encyclopedia – University of Rochester Medical Center, www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=76&contentid=12023-2.
Shubrook, Nicola – Registered Nutritionist. “Is Soy ‘Milk’ Good for You?” BBC Good Food, www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/soy-milk-good-you.