Calcium, the most common mineral in the human body, is necessary for bone and tooth health as well as heart, nerve and muscle function. A diet rich in the mineral can help prevent bone loss and osteoporosis later in life, says the University of Maryland Medical Center. If you're vegan or don't consume enough dairy in your diet, you can turn to fruits and vegetables to boost your calcium intake. An adult on a 2,000-calorie diet should eat 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables each day.
Leafy green vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, spinach, kale, Swiss chard or mustard, collard greens, turnips, and dandelion greens all contain moderate levels of dietary calcium. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one cup of cooked frozen spinach contains 291 mg of calcium, while turnips, beets, dandelion and mustard greens contain 249 mg, 164 mg, 147 mg and 104 mg per cup, respectively. Serve a spinach salad with dinner or add fresh kale to your soups to incorporate calcium-rich leafy greens into your diet.
Soybeans, known as "edemame" on Japanese menus, give you 261 mg of calcium per cup. When you snack on soybeans as an appetizer before sushi or at home, you're doing your bones a favor while providing your body with a low-fat source of protein. Keep boiled or steamed soybean pods on hand for a quick snack between meals or sprinkle the beans onto salads for extra protein and calcium.
Tomatoes, especially when stewed or canned in tomato juice, offer calcium as well as anti-oxidants; vitamins A, C and K; potassium; magnesium; and fiber with only 30 to 40 calories per cup. While raw tomatoes only have 18 mg of calcium per cup, stewed and canned tomatoes contain 85 mg and 74 mg per cup, respectively. Substitute stewed or canned tomatoes for fresh in soups and homemade pasta sauces for the added calcium and other essential nutrients.
Oranges, best known for their vitamin C content, also offer 72 mg of calcium per cup as well as a dose of folate and B vitamins. Add sliced oranges to spinach salads for a double team of calcium, or drink a glass of orange juice for breakfast to boost your daily calcium intake by 68 mg per 6 oz.
- broccoli image by ewa kubicka from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.