Small Steps: 5 Ways To Get More Calcium

by in Healthy Tips, Small Steps, August 11, 2010

ice cream

We’ve told you how to drink more water, fit in more exercise and eat more fruit—this week it’s all about calcium. If you don’t get enough of this important mineral, here are 5 ways to help.

The Goal
Calcium is vital for healthy bones and teeth, so it’s important to get the recommended 1000 milligrams per day (or about 3 servings). For calcium to be absorbed most efficiently, it’s best to eat about 500 milligrams at a time. Here are some easy ways to boost your intake.

#1: Milk
It’s no wonder Mom liked to give a glass of warm milk before bed.  Not only does it calm you down,  but each cup of milk contains 30 percent of daily calcium needs (300 milligrams). Choose one percent or fat-free (skim) milk to keep calories and saturated fat under control. If you’re not a huge fan of the taste of plain milk (yes, I’m guilty), add a tablespoon of chocolate syrup.

#2: Ice Cream
Yes, ice cream! You can get 10 percent of your daily calcium needs from a half-cup of most brands of ice cream (be sure to read the label). If you’re looking for lower fat options, then choose nonfat frozen yogurt instead.

#3: Sardines
This under-appreciated fish is chock-full of calcium—a 3-ounce container contains as much calcium as a cup of milk, thanks to their edible bones. Toss on a bed of greens, eat atop a cracker or make a cheese-and-sardine sandwich (my dad’s favorite) for a double-calcium whammy.

#4: Spinach
A half-cup of cooked spinach contains 145 milligrams of calcium. If you’re a leafy veggie fan, eat more collards, kale and broccoli — they’re all calcium-rich, too.

#5: Tofu
Tofu made with calcium sulfate contains about 190 milligrams of calcium per 3 ounces. Use extra-firm tofu to create a delicious stir-fry and kick up the calcium by tossing in broccoli. Whip up a quick smoothie using silken tofu and your favorite fruit. Check out 5 more ways to enjoy tofu.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »

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