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Why To Worry About Your Bones (& Thus Calcium)

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Did you know that bone fragility is a common problem for people with diabetes and prediabetes?

Yep – fragile, as in higher risk for breaking bones. Yikes! That’s why you’ll learn about how calcium can help protect your bones as well as another major organ you’ll want to protect in this short article.

Did you grow up in an era when consuming a glass of milk nightly with dinner was the norm? Nowadays, dinners aren’t always at home and milk is rarely a first-choice beverage for children or adults.

Dairy-based products are rich in the mineral calcium which keeps bones strong. Calcium’s other big job is to help the heart pump efficiently. We certainly need to keep our hearts pumping and if there isn’t enough calcium in the diet, our bodies will have to dip into calcium storage tanks (bones) for what it needs. We don’t want our heart or our bones to run short or “thin” on calcium.

So, what other foods can contribute calcium to our diet? Maybe you guessed it: many vegetables contain calcium! Here are a few tips to help you obtain the most calcium with your vegetable choices.

Cruciferous Vegetables: The calcium found in cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, radishes, or cauliflower) is more readily available for the body to absorb. The best news is that these vegetables can be consumed raw or cooked for calcium benefits. I suggest varying preparation methods. For example, on some evenings forget cooking and indulge in a platter of crunchy vegetables with low fat dipping sauce before dinner (kids love this). Reserve other times to whip up a batch of spicy roasted cauliflower as an appetizer.

Vitamin D: Calcium always absorbs better when Vitamin D is there to help. Most vegetables don’t contain a large quantity of Vitamin D but pairing a protein source high in vitamin D (like eggs, mackerel, salmon, or tofu) with then will do the trick. Just imagine a tomato and bell pepper frittata for next Sunday’s family breakfast. Is your mouth watering yet?

Oxalates: Oxalates (also known as oxalic acids) are naturally occurring substances found in some vegetables which block the body’s ability to absorb calcium from these foods. Spinach has one of the highest oxalate contents but luckily it can be replaced in recipes with kale (a lower oxalate green) for better calcium absorption. My personal favorite is to put kale in soups, pasta dishes, salads or even on pizza.

Bottom line? Focus on calcium and vegetables in every meal. Your heart and bones will thank you.

And to check the status of your bone health, ask your healthcare provider if you should be screened for osteoporosis at your next visit.

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