Human body needs calcium to build strong bones when we are young and to keep bones strong as we get older. Moreover, it's also needed for the proper function of nerves, muscles, kidneys and the heart. Not having enough calcium in the diet is one of the many factors associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis and low bone density.
Expert's advice to always initiate adding the calcium rich food sources before starting with additional supplements. Dairy products are the most obvious choice when it comes to calcium rich foods but they are not the only food source which provides calcium. Here’s a list of top food sources of calcium to help you get your daily recommended allowance -
Milk: A glass of milk is one of the best way to start your day and to fulfill your calcium requirements. Go for low fat milk and avoid adding high sugar flavoring powders. Go for cinnamon, cardamom or unsweetened cocoa powder. 1 cup low fat milk provides 102 calories and 305 mg calcium.
Yogurt: Yogurt is a tasty way to get your daily calcium. 1 cup low fat plain yogurt provides 154 calories and 415 mg calcium. It is one of the best food sources of calcium. Avoid flavored yogurts as they contain added sugar and calories. Go for home-made plain yogurt with fresh fruits.
Tofu: Also known as Bean curd, it is a soymilk derivative. It is a common component in many East Asian and southeast Asian cuisines. A little sour than our regular cottage cheese, 100 gm provides a good 350 mg calcium and 76 calories. Include pan-grilled or lightly sautéed Tofu in curries or salads.
Spinach: It can be used in various preparations and can be a part of every meal due to its unique taste and texture. 1 cup of cooked spinach contains 41 calories and provides 245 mg of calcium. It has been said that oxalates and phytates present in spinach hinder calcium absorption. However, cooking spinach reduces the effect of these compounds and helps in calcium absorption.
Sesame Seeds: These nutty and crunchy seeds are a rich source of calcium and good fat which also make them a must have food for lactating women. 1 tbsp of sesame seeds provides 52 calories and 88 mg calcium. But make sure you do not go overboard with the quantity.