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Cow’s milk was created for calves. Human milk was created for humans. Nature is pretty smart that way, but if the Dairy Council had their way, they’d have cow milk coming out of our kitchen taps like water. With lots of muscle and money behind their ad campaigns and lobbying efforts, the claim is that milk is nature’s most perfect food. Well, sure it is…if you’re a calf. But we’re not, we’re humans, we have no reason – or need – to drink the milk of another species, especially when doing so causes harm to our health, our planet and billions of cows who suffer miserable, painful and tortured lives as dairy cows.
What to do then, to get our calcium fix? First, know how much you need. The recommended daily amount for an adult between the ages of 19 to 50 is 1,000 mg. A woman over 50 years old needs 1,200 mg. Now, where do you get all this calcium without guzzling milk every day?
Leafy greens, like kale, are a great source of calcium. A big ol’ raw kale salad can provide more calcium than a glass of milk. Add kale to smoothies, sauté with garlic or lightly steam, add to soups and stews or make crispy kale chips. Turnip greens, arugula, spinach are all potent sources of calcium.
Oranges can provide 60 mg of calcium, in addition to all that wonderful vitamin C. Most orange juices have versions fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for calcium absorption.
Nuts and seeds are an important source of healthy vitamins and minerals, calcium included. One ounce of sesame seeds has 280 mg of calcium. Sprinkle them in smoothies and salads, add them to whole grain dishes or try tahini, which is ground sesame seed paste, and make a simple dressing for steamed veggies or salad by mixing it with a little water, lemon and soy sauce. Soy, a plant-based food boasting all the amino acids found in a complete protein, also comes to the rescue when we need calcium. Edamame, which is the young, fresh version of soybeans can be purchased frozen in most grocery stores and can be used to make guacamole, added to salads, or eaten steamed with a pinch of salt. Drinking soy milk, eating tofu or tempeh will also help add calcium into your diet. Just go easy on soy consumption, moderation is the key. We know how healthy almonds are, but did you know a one-ounce serving provides 80 mg of calcium, too? Eat ’em raw, ground up in veggie burgers, as almond butter on a banana or use almond flour in baked good and pancakes to get a boost of calcium. Beans, beans, the magical fruit do more than make you toot! They pack a healthy dose of calcium, with white kidney beans topping the list with 140 mg in one cup. Legumes like chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, lentils will all help add this important nutrient into your diet. Mom was right – eat your broccoli! In addition to being one of the healthiest veggies and anti-cancer weapons, broccoli boasts 180 mg of calcium per cup, cooked. Drizzle with tahini sauce, as I mentioned earlier, and you can tell the Dairy Council to keep talking till the cows come home because you know the real deal on how to get your calcium. For more ideas…and reasons…to get your calcium from plant-based sources, click here.