Whether out of medical necessity or because of personal preference, many people opt to forgo dairy in their diet. In fact, about one million Americans are vegan, meaning they not only refrain from eating meat, but from all animal-derived foods such as eggs and dairy.(1)
Others may be lactose-intolerant or simply not enjoy the taste or texture of dairy. However, lack of dairy in the diet can also mean calcium deficiencies in the body since many experts’ go-to source for the mineral is dairy.
Not having adequate amounts of calcium can wreak havoc on the system though, since it does much more than work to keep bones healthy. It also plays a role in regulating the heart’s rhythm, maintains proper blood pressure, aids in weight loss, and even provides protection against some cancers.(2)
What then, are the best non-dairy sources of calcium?
Top 5 Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium
1. Collard Greens
One cup of cooked collard greens offers over a quarter of your daily calcium needs.(3) But be mindful of how it’s prepared; while associated with Southern cooking that typically involves butters and fats from meats (an obvious no-no), choose healthier options such as cooking in fresh garlic and coconut oil.
Enjoy 3.5 cups of kale throughout the day, and you’ve just had more calcium than one cup of milk.(4). Eat it in salads, baked as kale chips or add to green smoothies to get the full amount.
Of course, oranges are known for their high vitamin C content, but one navel orange also contains 60 mg of calcium (the recommended daily intake of calcium for adults between the ages of 19 and 50 is 1,000 mg daily).(4) Eating oranges along with other calcium-rich non-dairy choices helps to ensure that calcium intake is being met.
4. White Beans
These beans are not only filling and a great meat alternative, but just one half cup of them is filled with almost 100 mg of calcium.(4)
5. Dried Figs
When craving something sweet, reach for dried figs. In addition to being a healthy fiber and iron-rich choice, eating just two of them provides the body with 55 mg of calcium.(4)
Other non-dairy sources of calcium include almonds, turnip greens, sunflower seeds and broccoli.(4)
Sources for this article include: