Men and women focused on keeping bones and teeth strong need calcium in their diets, especially if they are dairy-free. It’s not uncommon, though, for men to fail to get the recommended daily allowance of calcium. For some reason, calcium, and sometimes vitamins and minerals of all kinds, just don’t tend to be on a guy’s radar screen. But it should be.
If you’re a man between the ages of 19 and 70, you need at least 1,000 milligrams of this mineral every day. The go-to calcium source tends to be milk. But if you don’t like milk or can’t drink it, here are 11 dairy-free foods you can add to your diet that will give you the calcium you need.
- Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a good dairy-free meal option—as a dinner side, a snack, or even a dessert. And they’re great for men looking to add more calcium to their diets, since they contain about 76 mg per cup. So, switch out those white potato or regular fries for a sweet potato or sweet potato fries on the regular.
- Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds contain about 88 mg of calcium per tablespoon, so it makes sense to start eating these whenever possible. Sesame seeds are easy to find in large-size containers in the Asian foods aisle at your grocery store (and cheaper than if you buy them in the Spice section) and you can easily sneak them into your diet by sprinkling them on a salad or stir-fry dish.
- Canned Salmon
The calcium in canned salmon actually comes from the bones. Don’t be grossed out—they’re soft enough to eat after they’ve been through the canning process. So, make sure to buy the kind of canned salmon that has the softened bones, since you’ll get about 180 mg of calcium from 3 ounces.
Sardines is another fish dish that is filled with calcium, and three ounces of sardines will give you around 300 mg of the mineral you’re looking for. Plus, you’ll get lots of healthy fats when you eat sardines. Add them to a salad or pasta dish for a healthy lunch or dinner.
If you’re new to tofu, know that it’s worth trying out, since half a cup will provide about 227 mg of calcium. Just make sure you buy the kind made with calcium sulfate if you want as much calcium from tofu as possible.
Figs are the perfect snack or dessert for men who need more calcium, since about three figs provides over 50 mg of calcium. If you’ve not yet discovered the beauty that is fresh figs, start. They are a delicious fruit and you can eat them alone as a snack or cut them up and sprinkle them on plain cereal or oatmeal. And if you can’t get your hands on fresh figs, dried figs will do as well, just make sure they aren’t loaded with added sugar. Either way, your bones will benefit from this dietary choice.
If you’re looking for some greens that are a good source of calcium, try kale. One cup of kale features 100 mg of calcium. Whether you cook it or eat it raw on a salad, know that your body will absorb the calcium from kale better than it would with spinach. That’s what makes kale one of the best leaves to eat when you want stronger bones and teeth.
- Mustard Greens
Kale is not the only leaf you should try when you want to increase your calcium intake. Mustard greens have about the same amount of calcium as kale, but your body is even better at absorbing it from mustard greens. Don’t let the name scare you off—mustard greens taste fantastic and are delicious simply seasoned with salt and pepper and sauté on the stovetop. Cook more than you think you’ll need, because one taste and you’ll be happy to have more to eat rather than less.
- Bok Choy
Yet another leafy green with lots of calcium is Bok choy, which is a kind of Chinese cabbage. Bok choy has about the same amount of calcium as the other leafy greens mentioned here, and is delicious sautéed on the stovetop in a saucepan with a little salt, black pepper, and soy sauce.
- Grains & Beverages Fortified with Calcium
Some foods and beverages come with calcium added to them. You’ll see this a lot with cereal and bread. Orange juice and non-dairy milk—such as almond milk and soymilk—are also often fortified with calcium. Try to buy these if you want an easy way to add calcium to your day.
- Non-Dairy Protein Drinks
Lastly, if you’re a fan of protein drinks, some non-dairy protein shakes contain not only low sugars, but also a good bit of calcium (and Vitamins D, A, and C, along with Magnesium). Check out the label on your favorite drink and see how much calcium it’s delivering for you. I’m a Muscle Milk fan and that brand checks all the right boxes.
As a bonus, most of these sources of calcium also have lots of Vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium. So if you’re lactose intolerant or simply don’t like the taste of milk, you have plenty of dairy-free ways to fit your calcium in!