One of the first questions people ask themselves when they’re contemplating a vegan diet is if they can truly enjoy a healthy and well-balanced diet if they avoid all animal by-products. Is it hard to find tasty, high-protein, and high-calcium vegan foods?

There is a great deal of debate about whether humans can sustain optimal health while on a long-term plant-based diet. Some people report health problems a few years after going vegan and find that they have to resume eating meat and dairy. Others who have been vegan for the bulk of their lives are perfectly healthy. 

Cambridge University Press published the results of a study on veganism that indicated that with enough planning, it is possible to get all the nutrients your body needs from an all-plant diet. The study also noted that vegetarians and vegans were far less likely to develop some of the serious health problems non-vegetarians develop later in life, including ischaemic heart disease, diverticular disease, diabetes, and cataracts.

The trick to maintaining optimal health on a vegan diet is taking the time to learn as much as you can about the different nutritional values of different foods and making sure you create a menu that enables you to absorb all the nutrients, minerals, and proteins needed to keep you healthy and active. 

A good place to start is making sure your home is well stocked with plenty of high-calcium vegan foods.

Beans

Peas, lentils, and beans are great high-calcium vegan foods. In addition to providing you with calcium, they are also a good source of fiber. They’re filling, fairly versatile, and easy to work with.

Which Beans Have the Most Calcium?

The amount of calcium you get from beans depends entirely on the type of beans you’re eating. The list of Beans below are particularly delicious and high in calcium:

  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Cannellini beans
  • Navy Beans
  • Green Beans
  • Red Beans 

In terms of getting the calcium you need, the best beans are winged beans or goa beans. A single serving provides you with 26% of the calcium you need each day. After that, white and navy beans provide 13% of the DRV of calcium. If you’re cooking kidney beans, you’ll still get some calcium, but only 7% of what your body requires. Calcium is just one of the things beans provide your body. They’re also a good source of potassium, folate, zinc, iron, and magnesium.

An Extra Note Regarding Beans

There’s another reason you should consider adding more beans as one of your high-calcium vegan foods. They are something you can grow on your own, even if you have a limited amount of space. They’re a great choice when you want to get into container gardening because they don’t require a great deal of complicated care. Growing beans means you don’t have to worry about if you’re eating organic or not. You’ll enjoy the sense of satisfaction you get from growing the food you consume. Best of all, growing beans is quite therapeutic.

Leafy, Green Veggies

cropped-photo-of-person-holding-bunch-of-kale

If you’re a vegan who is concerned about getting enough calcium, start adding more leafy green veggies to your diet. Veggies like broccoli, spinach, and cabbage are all high-calcium vegan foods.

Veggies that provide you with as much as 14% of the DRV of calcium include:

  • Collard greens
  • Spinach
  • Mustard leaves
  • Bok choy
  • Turnip greens

The great thing about these vegetables is that they are good when you prepare them fresh or they can be steamed and added to mashed potatoes, vegan soups, and stir-fries.

Green veggies that have 3-6% of the DRV of calcium include:

  • Kale
  • Okra
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cabbage

The great thing about these veggies is that they’re easily found in every grocery store around the country.

If you decide to rely primarily on leafy green veggies for your calcium needs, there is one thing you need to bear in mind. The downside to veggies is that some contain oxalates which are antinutrients that cause calcium to bind after you’ve digested it, making it difficult for you to absorb. Oxalates are why nutritionists recommend the veggies that provide a slightly lower amount of calcium like turnip greens and broccoli over extremely rich calcium vegetables such as Swiss chard and spinach. 

Seeds and Nuts

Just because you’ve gone vegan it doesn’t mean you’ve lost the need and urge to snack. It turns out that snacking is a great way to provide your body with the calcium it needs. Instead of stocking up on vegan candy and baked goods, tuck a few bags of seeds or nuts into your purse or briefcase. Not only will these keep between-meal hunger pangs at bay, but they’ll also help you get the calcium you need.

It doesn’t matter if you’re eating them straight out of a package, or if you bake them into your favorite vegan pastry, or sprinkle them over a salad, both chia and flax seeds are an excellent source of calcium. All it takes is 2 tablespoons and you’ll enjoy 13% of your DRV of calcium.

Tahini butter, made out of sesame seeds, is another excellent source of calcium!

While all types of nuts are a solid source of calcium, almonds are the absolute best source. Each time you eat 1/4 cups of almonds, you’re providing your body with 10% of the calcium it needs every single day. Brazil nuts are another good choice and will provide you with 6% of the DRV of calcium. Other popular types of nuts provide you with about 2-3% of the calcium you need. 

Try working your favorite high-calcium foods into your diet and meet with a naturopathic physician to make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need. Check out Dr. Threlkel’s holistic health services, and start strengthening your mind-body connection today! Contact Karen Threlkel in Washington DC!

Resources:

https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK56060/

About The Author:

Dr. Karen Threlkel

Dr. Karen Threlkel

Dr. Threlkel received her degree of Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine from The National College for Naturopathic Medicine (now called The National University of Natural Medicine) in Portland, Oregon. She also holds a Bachelor Degree in Kinesiology from The University of Maryland. She is licensed in Naturopathic Medicine by the Government of the District of Columbia Department of Health. Dr. Threlkel is a member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, past president & current member of the Washington DC Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

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