There is no doubt that calcium is an important part of a healthy diet. Calcium helps maintain strong bones, support proper functioning of muscles and prevent blood clotting. What may be surprising is the vast diversity of foods which are high in calcium. The dairy marketing industry likes us to believe that milk is our best, and only, food source of calcium. However, foods such as almonds, kale and quinoa have the same or even more calcium than a glass of milk.
That’s good news for the millions of people who suffer from a dairy allergy. Many dairy allergies in this country go undiagnosed causing people to suffer unknowingly. Symptoms of a dairy allergy are diverse, ranging from constipation to diarrhea to eczema to headaches. My 2 year old daughter has a dairy allergy that went undiagnosed for many months. Most healthcare professionals chalked up the rashes on her cheeks to eczema and recommended a topical cream. But knowing a little more about the connection between food and skin rashes, I experimented with removing foods from her diet one at a time. Once dairy was removed her rashes cleared up. Additionally I noticed her soft stools began looking more normal.
Nowadays a dairy allergy is far from the end of the world. There are alternatives for yogurt, cheese, and milk which taste just as good, and can be used easily as substitutes.
Even if you do not suffer from a dairy allergy, it is helpful to use the list below to diversify your calcium-rich food sources.
Good sources of calcium include:
Produce: oranges, apricots, pears, raisins, dates, prunes, dried figs, broccoli, okra, sweet potatoes and most dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, collard greens, dandelion greens and bok choy.
Nuts & Seeds: brazil nuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, filberts, sesame seeds, almonds, tahini (sesame seed paste), sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
Seafood: salmon (with bones), sardines, mackerel, flounder, shrimp, clams and oysters.
Whole Grains: amaranth, quinoa, oats and barley.