5 CALCIUM-RICH vegan foods | One Good India

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calcium, milk, cheese, curd


Is it only found in milk and cheese? Of course not!

Calcium is an essential nutrient that every living organism needs. Our bodies can get calcium in two ways: diet or supplement.

But what if you’re vegan? Can you still get calcium? Of course!

Why do we need calcium?

Calcium is important for:

  • Building and maintaining healthy bones and teeth
  • Ensuring blood clots normally
  • Regulating muscle contractions
  • Regulating your heartbeat
  • Transporting nutrients
  • Balancing pH levels
  • Nerve transmission

What is the normal range for calcium?

According to the Institute of Medicine, the daily allowance for calcium ranges from 600 to 1300 mg, depending on your age and gender. 

The Indian Council of Medical Research recommends 600 mg for both genders.

Can I get enough calcium as a vegan?

Yes. It’s not only possible, it can actually be pretty easy! The most important thing to know is what foods to focus on and consume more of, so you can get the most calcium possible per meal/snack. 

What happens if you don’t get enough calcium?

Calcium deficiency symptoms include:

  • Osteoporosis - a condition that causes weak, fragile bones
  • Rickets - a disease in children that causes soft, weak bones
  • Osteomalacia - a disease in children and adults that causes soft bones

On the flip side, getting too much calcium can have similar impacts as getting too little, like developing weak bones.

5 calcium-rich foods for vegans

1. Soy

Soybeans are naturally rich in calcium, and they come in so many different forms: tofu, tempeh, soymilk, miso, natto, soy sauce, edamame, and soy nuts! Just think about how many different foods you can have with soybeans alone: tofu stir-fry, tofu noodle soup, tofu paratha, tofu paneer, miso soup, soy milk smoothies, and tofu curries.

Not only are soybeans and soybean food products great sources of calcium, they contain lots of fibre, vitamins, minerals, and count as a source of complete plant-based protein.

  • ½ a cup of boiled soybeans contains 100 mg of calcium. 

Processing soybeans can impact the calcium content of soybeans considerably. When purchasing tofu, look out for calcium-set tofu, and if you’re purchasing soy milk, look for calcium-fortified soy milk to get the highest amount of calcium and other essential nutrients. 

  • ½ a cup of tempeh contains 75 mg of calcium.
  • 113 grams of tofu contains between 250-750 mg of calcium (tofu, firm, calcium-set).

Despite the fact that soybeans contain oxalates and phytate, two compounds which reduce the absorption of calcium, our bodies absorb calcium from soy as well as cow’s milk.

2. Kabuli chana\chickpeas\garbanzo beans

Beans are always a great source of vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, and calcium. Chickpeas in particular are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, folate, iron, potassium, magnesium, and calcium.

They’re also incredibly delicious, and found in some of our favourite foods: chole bhathura, chana masala, hummus, chaat, and so many others. 

  • 1 cup of cooked chickpeas contains 80 mg of calcium.

3. Oats, instant

Oats are becoming more popular in India, for the many ways they can be eaten, particularly in sweets, desserts, or breakfast items. You can make oatmeal, cookies, muffins, bread, brownies, cakes, pies, high protein snacks, and more with oats!

Oats are also some of the healthiest grains, and have numerous benefits.

  • According to the USDA, 100 grams of instant oats contains 80 mg of calcium.

4. Sesame seeds

Sesame seeds are some of the oldest known oilseed crops, having been domesticated over 3,000 years ago. 

They’re also a good source of heart-healthy fats, protein, antioxidants, and other essential nutrients. Thankfully, the uses of sesame in an Indian kitchen are common and can be used for tadka or tempering. They can also be sprinkled on bread, burger buns, over stir-fries, sushi, crushed, or made into tahini. 

  • 18 grams of whole roasted sesame seeds contains 280 mg of calcium.

5. Palak

Palak, or spinach, is a leafy green vegetable that provides more nutrients than many foods. And you should be eating it on a daily basis if you’re a vegan, because it’s rich in vitamin A, iron, folate, potassium, fibre, and vitamin K.

Palak is enjoyed in many Indian dishes, like daal, pakoda, poori, upma, dosas, and so on.

  • 1 cup of cooked palak contains 240 mg of calcium.

If you enjoyed this blog post, check out some of our other blogs on vegan nutrition:


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