Calcium is an essential mineral for the body that is needed for the development and maintenance of strong bones and teeth, as well as for muscle and nerve function, blood clotting, and hormone release. Since the body cannot produce calcium on its own, it must be obtained through diet. Consuming too little calcium can lead to increased susceptibility to bone fractures, osteoporosis, dental problems, and muscle cramps.
To ensure an adequate intake of calcium, it is important to incorporate calcium-rich vegetables into a varied and healthy diet. To do this, use our calcium vegetable table, which provides information on the calcium content of each vegetable. We will delve into some of these vegetable types below and reveal how you can improve your calcium intake. If you are looking for calcium-poor vegetables, refer to this table.
Due to their age, gender, health, or physical activities, certain individuals require more calcium than others:
- During growth, children and adolescents require a significant amount of calcium for the formation of strong bones and teeth.
- Women who have reached menopause are at a higher risk of osteoporosis. Their bodies produce less estrogen, which helps store calcium in the bones.
- Pregnant and lactating women require more calcium to support the growth and development of the fetus or baby.
- With advancing age, the body gradually loses bone mass, increasing the risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis.
- People with certain conditions such as chronic kidney disease, Crohn's disease, or celiac disease are at an increased risk of calcium deficiency. They should also pay attention to a calcium-rich diet.
- Athletes, due to their intense training and increased muscle activity, also have a higher calcium requirement. Moreover, calcium is also lost through sweat. Adequate calcium intake should be ensured, especially during intense physical training or in high temperatures.
Considering the importance of calcium for the body and the increased need in certain groups, a balanced diet rich in calcium sources is of greater significance. The daily calcium requirement can be met with a vegan diet as long as it includes a variety of calcium-rich foods. There are many calcium-rich foods of plant origin as well. Our calcium tables also demonstrate this:
- Calcium-rich Nuts, Seeds, and Kernels
- Calcium-rich Fruits
- Calcium-rich Juices and Drinks
- Calcium-rich Herbs and Spices
- Calcium-rich Grains and Cereals
- Calcium-rich Mushrooms
In general, compared to other plant-based food groups such as fruits, grains, and legumes, vegetables often have a higher calcium content. Some vegetables contain even more calcium per serving than many dairy products. The list reveals which vegetables are rich in calcium:
- Broccoli is not only rich in calcium but also in vitamin C and fiber. You can use it in various dishes, such as soups, casseroles, or salads. You can also eat it raw.
- Arugula is a peppery leafy green vegetable that is rich in calcium, vitamin C, and antioxidants. You can use it raw in salads or on sandwiches or pizzas. Arugula can also be steamed or sautéed.
- Kale is another leafy green vegetable that provides a wealth of nutrients like calcium, iron, and vitamin K. You can prepare it raw as a salad or serve it steamed or sautéed. Kale also works great in smoothies or juices.
- Spinach is not only an iron-rich food but according to the table, it also contains a lot of calcium. You can prepare it similarly to kale. Spinach tastes exceptional in omelets or quiches.
- Swiss chard is a green leafy vegetable that is becoming increasingly available in supermarkets. It is rich in calcium, vitamin K, and iron. Both the leaves and stems are edible. The leaves can be prepared and sautéed like spinach. They also work well in soups or stews. The stems can be steamed or fried and served in salads or as a side dish.
- Beet greens are a frequently overlooked part of beets. They are abundant in calcium, iron, and vitamin K. You can serve the greens both raw and cooked. They also make a great ingredient in smoothies or green juices.
- Celery is a crunchy and refreshing vegetable that is rich in calcium, vitamin K, and folate. It is commonly used in soups or stews. It also tastes delicious in smoothies or as an ingredient in salads or dips.
- Brussels sprouts are another green vegetable that is high in calcium, vitamin C, and fiber according to the table. You can steam or sauté them.
- Pak Choi is a leafy vegetable from the cabbage family that is often used in Asian cuisine. It can be sautéed or steamed and is also suitable as an ingredient in soups. It contains higher amounts of calcium, vitamin C, and antioxidants.
- Okra is used in Southern cuisine. You can stew or fry them. Okra also tastes delicious as an ingredient in stews or soups. Our tables show that okra is rich in calcium, fiber, and vitamin C.
- Chicory is a bitter leafy vegetable that is often eaten raw as a salad. However, it can also be steamed, fried, or grilled. Chicory is a good source of calcium, vitamin C, and fiber.
- Chickpeas are legumes. You can use them in salads, soups, or stews, or process them into hummus or falafel to get the calcium they contain.
Getting More Calcium from Vegetables
Here are some tips to improve calcium absorption from vegetables:
- Vitamin D is important for calcium absorption and is primarily produced through sun exposure on the skin. Therefore, it is important to spend enough time outdoors or consume vitamin D-rich foods such as mushrooms or vitamin D-fortified foods.
- Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, or tempeh can enhance calcium absorption. They contain bacteria that improve calcium absorption and can keep the gut healthy.
- Both phytic acid found in legumes, nuts, and whole grains, and oxalic acid found in spinach, chard, and beets, can inhibit calcium absorption. One way to reduce the effect of these inhibitors is by treating the affected foods through soaking, sprouting, or fermenting (for phytic acid) or cooking or steaming (for oxalic acid). This can improve calcium absorption.
What Does a Calcium-Rich Vegetable Diet Look Like?
You can incorporate calcium-rich vegetables into your diet with the following ideas:
- Broccoli Quinoa Salad: Combine cooked quinoa with steamed broccoli, tomatoes, avocado, and onions. Season with lemon juice, olive oil, and spices.
- Oven-Baked Potatoes with Kale: Cut potatoes into small pieces and bake them in the oven. Add steamed kale, roasted pine nuts, and a squeeze of lemon juice on top.
- Spinach Lentil Soup: Cook lentils with vegetable broth and add fresh spinach. Season with spices and serve with toasted bread.
- Chard Chickpea Curry: Sauté chard and chickpeas in a pan with curry powder and coconut milk. Serve with rice or naan bread.
- Beetroot Hummus: Blend cooked chickpeas, roasted beetroot, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil into a delicious dip for vegetable sticks or whole grain bread.
- Tomato Zucchini Pasta: Slice zucchini and tomatoes into thin strips and sauté them in a pan with garlic and olive oil. Serve it on whole grain pasta and garnish with basil and pine nuts.
- Baked Sweet Potatoes with Broccoli: Bake sweet potatoes in the oven and serve them with steamed broccoli, chickpeas, and tahini sauce.
- Kale Chips: Cut kale leaves into bite-sized pieces, coat them with olive oil, and bake them in the oven until crispy. A healthy alternative to potato chips!
- Cauliflower Curry: Sauté cauliflower in a pan with onions, garlic, ginger, and curry powder. Add coconut milk and let it simmer until the cauliflower is tender. Serve it with rice or naan bread.
- Pumpkin Spinach Lasagna: Layer lasagna noodles with roasted pumpkin, spinach, tomato sauce, and vegan cheese. Bake it in the oven until golden brown and crispy.
- Brussels Sprouts Potato Casserole: Bake potatoes and Brussels sprouts in the oven and add vegan cheese and spices. Bake it until the cheese is melted and the potatoes and Brussels sprouts are tender.