Sardines may be small, but they're big fish when it comes to calcium. A serving can help you get to the 1,000 milligrams a day that most adults need. Try fresh sardines -- tossed on the grill for a smoky, delicious hors d'oeuvre. Drizzle with garlicky aioli sauce for as much calcium as you'd get in 8 ounces of yogurt.
- Sardines (3 ounces): 325 milligrams calcium
- Aioli sauce (2 tablespoons): 21 milligrams calcium
When it comes to leafy greens, arugula is a super food: rich in vitamins and bone-building calcium. Toss in some shredded Parmesan cheese and slivered almonds to get 130 milligrams of calcium in a small, tasty salad.
- Arugula (1 cup): 32 milligrams calcium
- Almonds (12 nuts): 35 milligrams calcium
- Parmesan (1 tablespoon): 63 milligrams calcium
As an appetizer or a meal, a flatbread pizza with the right toppings can be packed with calcium -- even before you add cheese! Start with crumbled, canned salmon and plenty of arugula for a pie that's got more calcium than a large glass of milk.
- Salmon (3 ounces): 241 milligrams calcium
- Arugula (1 cup): 32 milligrams calcium
- Flatbread crust: 113 milligrams calcium
Stuff sweet, chewy fresh figs with interesting cheeses to make an appetizer full of flavor. Spanish manchego is a tangy choice made from sheep's milk and loaded with calcium. Two manchego-stuffed figs provide 345 milligrams of calcium -- with just 150 calories.
- Manchego (1 ounce): 300 milligrams calcium
- Figs (2): 45 milligrams calcium
Stuffed grape leaves are a Greek specialty. They're usually made with rice, aromatic herbs and spices, ground beef, and leaves from a grape vine. The olive-green leaves have some calcium, and dipping them in non-fat Greek yogurt boosts the total. Six stuffed leaves with 1/4 cup of yogurt sauce add up to 147 milligrams of calcium – about 15% of what most adults need in a day.
Crisp endive leaves are just the right shape for finger food. Combine low-fat cream cheese and smoked salmon, then scoop the mix into an endive leaf. A few small bites of these before dinner and you'll get about 75 milligrams of calcium. The major sources:
- Cream cheese (2 tablespoons): 44 milligrams calcium
- Smoked salmon (6 ounces): 18 milligrams calcium
Dandelions can invade a manicured lawn, but cooks love the greens for their peppery flavor. The leaves are also loaded with nutrients and have more calcium than you'd get from spinach. Wilted or sautéed, dandelions make a flavorful side dish. Oil, garlic, and other seasonings help balance the peppery bite.
- Dandelion greens (1 cup): 147 milligrams calcium
This green vegetable tastes a little sweeter than its big brother broccoli. It has small florets and long, tender stalks that don't need to be peeled. Roast or sauté the spears for robust flavor. Or steam them briefly, making sure not to lose the vivid green color. Quick cooking helps retain the vitamins.
- Broccolini (1 cup): 55 milligrams calcium
With green leaves and white stalks, baby bok choy looks like regular bok choy in miniature. But this variety of Chinese cabbage is milder and more tender. Try cooking and serving the heads whole, rather than chopping the vegetable. It works great in a stir fry or as a side dish.
- Baby bok choy (1 cup): 158 milligrams calcium
Salmon croquettes are a savory way to get more calcium. And canned salmon offers 10-20 times more calcium than fillets. Whip up a creamy dill sauce with nonfat Greek yogurt for 315 milligrams of calcium in two cakes. The major sources:
- Canned salmon (6 ounces): 241 milligrams calcium
- Greek yogurt (2 tablespoons): 59 milligrams calcium
Want to kick up the calcium in your everyday chicken dinner? Stuff a chicken breast with a mix of creamy ricotta cheese and spinach. Coat it with sesame seeds, season, and bake it. One serving has 251 milligrams of calcium -- about a quarter of what you need every day.
Stuffing manicotti pasta shells is a simple way to add flavor and calcium to a pasta dish. Use skim ricotta cheese to trim some calories in this easy classic. Cover the shells with spicy or garlicky tomato sauce and bake for a quick dinner. Two stuffed shells have more calcium than a glass of milk.
- Part-skim ricotta (1/2 cup): 335 milligrams calcium
- Tomato sauce (1/2 cup ): 16 milligrams calcium
Japanese mustard greens, called komatsuna, are high in calcium. For a colorful pasta dish, toss the peppery plant with spaghetti -- make it with whole wheat noodles for added fiber. Add tangy, sun-dried cherry tomatoes and sprinkle Parmesan on top. The whole meal comes in around 500 calories.
- Komatsuna (1 cup): 104 milligrams calcium
- Parmesan (1/4 cup): 220 milligrams calcium
This dessert is made with finely ground almonds instead of wheat flour. Their subtle flavor balances the sugar and citrus zest, and the nuts provide a little calcium, too. Add a low-fat, lemon cream cheese frosting to get about 110 milligrams of calcium in one serving.
This ultra-creamy dessert is one sweet way to help meet your calcium needs.
The chocolate, milk, and eggs in the recipe all have small amounts to add up to 100 milligrams of calcium per half cup. If you crave chocolate mousse -- but not the full load of calories, fat, and cholesterol -- try the reduced-fat versions you can find in many markets.
IMAGES PROVIDED BY:
- Joff Lee/Photolibrary
- Deborah Jones/Healthy Food Images
- Emilio Ereza/Agefotostock
- Pablo G. Sarompas/Gastrofotos
- Zoonar, Heike Rau
- Tobias Titz/fStop
- Susie M Eising/Healthy Food Images
- James and James/FoodPix
- Food And Drink Photos
- Teubner/StockFood Creative
- Carolyn O'Neil, M.S. R.D., co-author The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous!
- Anna McKenzie, Nutrition, Dietetics, and Hospitality Management Student, Auburn University.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
- Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center: "Eat A Diet Rich in Calcium."
- Dole: "Super Foods For Bones."
- Kitchen Gardeners International: "Wilted Dandelion Greens Salad."
- McKinley Health Center, University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana; "Low-fat Sources of Calcium"
- National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements: "Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Calcium."
- Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences:"Boosting Calcium Intake with Canned Salmon."
- Produce for Better Health Foundation: "Broccolini."
- Tanya Bricking Leach, The Associated Press: "Flatbread: Healthy Option Doesn't Loaf Around."
- Tufts University.
- United States Department of Agriculture Nutrient Database.
- Washington State University.
- Diane Welland, MS, RD. Today's Dietitian, February 2011.
- Whole Foods.