Since I was a child I’ve been hearing everywhere that “you need to drink milk for the calcium”.
People have been brainwashed by conventional wisdom and the media, and they usually think that drinking milk is the only key to healthy bones.
And that NOT drinking any milk is a surefire way of getting osteoporosis and fractures.
But when I went to China and other Asian countries where people don’t traditionally drink a single drop of milk, I realized that all this milk story probably served other purposes than keeping our bones in good shape. Of course, Asian people do need calcium, but they simply get it from other sources, particularly from bone broths.
In fact, many traditional cultures who don’t consume dairy products get calcium by making broths and stocks with meat and fish bones. When I lived in China, the factory’s cook would prepare meat or fish bone broth every night. And when I lived in Ecuador, where people didn’t consume any dairy products, we had bone broth at every single lunch.
The truth is that while dairy products are one of the best usable sources of calcium for the body, milk, particularly cow’s milk, is definitely not the #1 and only source of calcium available.
So, here are the top 50 foods high in calcium:
1. Watercress (10.91 mg/kcal)
2. Nopales (10.25 mg/kcal)
3. Mustard Spinach (Tendergreen) (9.55 mg/kcal)
4. Amaranth Leaves (9.35 mg/kcal)
5. Epazote (8.59 mg/kcal)
6. Chinese Cabbage (Pak-Choi) (8.08 mg/kcal)
7. Lambsquarters (8.06 mg/kcal)
8. Swiss Cheese (7.57 mg/kcal)
9. Butterbur (Fuki) (7.36 mg/kcal)
10. Kale (7.26 mg/kcal)
11. Collards (7.25 mg/kcal)
12. Mozzarella Cheese (6.82 mg/kcal)
13. Mollusks (6.50 mg/kcal)
14. Arugula (6.40 mg/kcal)
15. American Cheese (6.26 mg/kcal)
16. Jute (6.12 mg/kcal
17. Dried Whey Acid (6.06 mg/kcal)
18. Turnip Greens (5.94 mg/kcal)
19. Cheddar Cheese (5.69 mg/kcal)
20. Malabar Spinach (5.39 mg/kcal)
21. Beet Greens (5.32 g/kcal)
22. Sisymbrium Seeds (5.14 mg/kcal)
23. Broccoli Raab (4.91 mg/kcal)
24. Chrysanthemum Leaves (4.88 mg/kcal)
25. Chinese Cabbage (Pe-Tsai) (4.82 mg/kcal)
26. Pickle (4.75 mg/kcal)
27. Chinese Broccoli (4.55 mg/kcal)
28. Borage (4.43 mg/kcal)
29. Roselle (4.39 mg/kcal)
30. Chicory Greens (4.35 mg/kcal)
31. Purslane (4.33 mg/kcal)
32. Spinach (4.30 mg/kcal)
33. Mustard Greens (4.26 mg/kcal)
34. Parmesan Cheese (4.18 mg/kcal)
35. Fireweed Leaves (4.17 mg/kcal)
36. Dandelion Greens (4.16 mg/kcal)
37. New Zealand Spinach (4.14 mg/kcal)
38. Cardoon (4.12 mg/kcal)
39. Rhubarb (4.10 mg/kcal)
40. Water Convolvulus (4.05 mg/kcal)
41. Kelp Seaweed (3.91 mg/kcal)
42. Grape Leaves (3.90 mg/kcal)
43. Parsley (3.82 mg/kcal)
44. Soymilk (3.73 mg/kcal)
45. Ginger Root (3.70 mg/kcal)
46. Nonfat Milk (3.59 mg/kcal)
47. Taro Leaves (3.58 mg/kcal)
48. Plain Yoghurt (3.55 mg/kcal)
49. Chrysanthemum Garland (3.45 mg/kcal)
50. Tofu with Nagari (3.40 mg/kcal)
While I was fortunate enough to grow up on organic milk from our neighbors, I stopped drinking milk pretty early on and switched to Swiss cheese made with raw milk. Cheese has the advantage of being very high in calcium while not containing lactose. I also always ate plenty of vegetables and I never worried about calcium.
As you can see in the table above, drinking milk is NOT the best way to have plenty of calcium. You will get plenty of it by eating good quality cheese.
Then, good sources of calcium are almonds, legumes such as white beans or chickpeas, fish such as sardines, herrings (the calcium is in the bones), vegetables (especially leafy greens), and eggs.
But remember that calcium in meat, vegetables, legumes and grains that have not been properly prepared is more difficult to absorb for the body than calcium from dairy products and from bone broths.
Tofu and soybeans are high on the list and do contain lots of calcium, but you should know that soybeans contain plenty of anti-nutrients, some of which inhibit calcium absorption by the body. Tofu should be consumed sparingly, just like the Chinese traditionally do.
Another source of calcium are seeds, particularly poppy seeds and chia seeds; they have not been included in the table because you usually consume only very small amounts of them, which means they won’t be an important source of calcium in your diet.
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