Calcium-Rich Foods That Aren’t Milk

calcium-rich kale
Photo Credit: Ali Harper

December 16, 2020

Isadora Baum

Of all the 13 vitamins and minerals essential to our day-to-day diet, calcium ranks high. Healthy adults need about 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily, while kids and older adults need even more — not only to maintain bone health but also to help with muscle contraction, nerve transmission, and blood clotting.

But milk isn’t the only good source of calcium. While dairy — cheese and yogurt, included — is probably the most well-known way to get your daily dose, here are 3 more to consider:

1. Dark Leafy Greens

Greens like collards, kale, watercress, and spinach are all good sources of calcium. Though the amount varies depending on the type of green, you can get roughly 25% of your daily calcium needs from just a single serving.

Sautéed greens make an easy side dish, or you can also stir them into soups and stews or make them the base of a salad. Don’t forget they can be slipped into breakfast, too — we love tossing a handful of greens into scrambled eggs to wilt right before the eggs are done cooking.

2. Sardines

Before you skip to the next item, hear us out: Sardines are delicious! The tiny tinned fish are rich, meaty, and oh-so-flavorful. The secret to getting their full calcium benefit is to buy cans that still contain the tiny, soft, edible bones. In fact, you’ll get about 35% of your daily requirement from one can.

Not sure exactly how to eat them? Try using them in place of tuna in your favorite tuna salad recipe. You can also flake them onto salads, add them to avocado toast, or stir them into marinara sauce for a feel-good pasta dinner.

3. White Beans

Pretty much all beans and lentils have some calcium in them, but white beans contain the most: One cup of cooked white beans contains about 13% of your daily needs (while others contain just 4-6%). Since white beans are one of the more popular beans around, that’s great news.

Eat them as-is, on salads, on toast, and tossed with cooked grains for easy lunches and dinners. Or toss a drained can with some pesto or salsa and top with a fried egg for a quick and satisfying breakfast.