Meatless Ways to Boost Calcium Intake

Baby bok choy
For this recipe, trim the ends off the bok choy and cut into small pieces.

Folks who follow meatless diets often hear questions about whether they’re getting enough nutrients. For instance, “What about protein?” “What about calcium?”

The truth is, many Americans do not get enough calcium in their diet--whether they eat animal products or not. That’s bad news, because calcium is integral to many bodily functions.

Many people know that calcium supports the structure and function of bones and teeth. But this important mineral also plays a role in vascular function, muscle function, nerve transmission, hormone secretion and intracellular signaling throughout the body.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for calcium for people 19 and older ranges from 1,000 to 1,200mg per day. It’s easy to get that much with two or three servings of calcium-rich and/or calcium-fortified foods with each meal.

Plant-based calcium sources include dark-green, leafy vegetables (collard and turnip greens, kale), broccoli, chinese cabbage, bok choy, okra, figs, soybeans and tempeh. Some foods that come fortified with calcium are soy milk, some juices, soy yogurt, tofu and many cereals. Dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese are good sources of calcium, too.

Here’s one example of how to incorporate more plant-based and fortified-calcium food into your diet:

For breakfast, include:

6oz, calcium-fortified orange juice (261mg)
1 serving, calcium-fortified cereal (500mg)

For lunch, include:

8oz, calcium-fortified soymilk (299mg)
1/2 cup, cooked kale (94mg)

For dinner, include:

1/2 cup, soybeans (88mg)
1/2 cup, broccoli (48mg)

Total calcium for the day: 1,290mg

Calcium-Rich Dish

A 4oz serving of today’s recipe, Spicy Bok Choy in Garlic Sauce, provides 80 calories, 6 grams of fat and a healthy 106mg of calcium .

Ingredients:

  • 1lb., baby bok choy
  • 2 tbps., vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup, water
  • 1 tsp., fresh ginger root, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbps., soy sauce
  • 1 tbps., brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp., crushed red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Trim ends off the baby bok choy and cut into small pieces. Separate the white parts from the green. Wash, pat dry and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, stir remaining ingredients, except the oil. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the stems of bok choy first, stir-frying for a few minutes until they turn pale green. Add the leaves and cook until leaves are wilted (one or two minutes). Remove from heat.
  4. Add ingredients from the small bowl to the skillet to make the sauce. Heat on medium-high temperature for about three minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly.
  5. Pour sauce over the bok choy. Toss lightly to coat and enjoy!
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