Sardines may be small, but they're big fish when it comes to calcium, heart-healthy fats, and robust flavor. 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 eight ounces of yogurt.
Sardines (3 oz.): 325 mg calcium
Aioli sauce (2 Tbsp): 21 mg 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 215 mg of calcium in a small, tasty salad. That’s twice what you'd get in a slice of cheese quiche.
Arugula (1 cup): 125 mg calcium
Almonds (12 nuts): 35 mg calcium
Parmesan (1 Tbsp): 55 mg calcium
As an appetizer or a meal, a flatbread pizza with the right toppings can be packed with calcium. And that's before adding 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 oz.): 325 mg calcium
Arugula (1 cup): 125 mg calcium
Flatbread crust: 113 mg calcium
Figs Stuffed With Manchego Cheese
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 362 mg of calcium -- with just 150 calories.
Manchego (1 oz.): 300 mg calcium
Figs (2): 62 mg calcium
Stuffed Grape Leaves
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 mg of calcium – about 15% of what you 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 100 mg of calcium. The major sources:
Cream cheese (2 Tbsp): 58 mg calcium
Smoked salmon (6 oz.): 18 mg calcium
Dandelions can invade a prized 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 mg calcium
This green vegetable tastes a little sweeter than its big brother broccoli. Broccolini 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 mg calcium
Baby Bok Choy
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 heads of baby bok choy whole, rather than chopping the vegetable. It works great in a stir fry or as a side dish.
Baby bok choy (1 cup): 75-80 mg calcium
Salmon Croquettes With Dill Sauce
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 non-fat Greek yogurt for 315 mg of calcium in two cakes. The major sources:
Canned salmon (6 oz.): 181 mg calcium
Greek yogurt (2 Tbsp): 59 mg calcium
Stuffed Sesame Chicken
Want to kick up the calcium in your everyday chicken meal? Stuff a chicken breast with a mix of creamy ricotta cheese and spinach. Coat it with sesame seeds, season, and bake as usual. One serving has 251 mg 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 (½ cup): 335 mg calcium
Tomato sauce (½ cup ): 16 mg calcium
Spaghetti with Komatsuna Greens
Japanese mustard greens, called komatsuna, are high in calcium. For a colorful pasta dish, toss peppery komatsuna with spaghetti noodles. Add tangy, sun-dried cherry tomatoes and sprinkle parmesan on top. Whole-wheat pasta adds fiber and the whole meal comes in around 500 calories.
Komatsuna (1 cup): 104 mg calcium
Parmesan (¼ cup): 220 mg calcium
Almond cake uses 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 mg 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 contribute small amounts to add up to 100 mg 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 found in many markets.
(1) Joff Lee/Photolibrary
(4) Deborah Jones/Healthy Food Images
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(7) Zoonar, Heike Rau
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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."
United States Department of Agriculture Nutrient Database.
Washington State University.
Diane Welland, MS, RD. Today's Dietitian, February 2011.
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.