You would think that it would be nearly impossible to get enough calcium on a vegan raw food diet. Fortunately, that is not the case at all. I was a little worried about calcium when I started on raw foods. Now, I don’t really think about this essential mineral much at all because it’s so plentiful in my diet.
Young Thai coconuts are rich sources of calcium with the average coconut providing 10-17% RDA (recommended daily allowance) of calcium. Crack one open and drink the sweet, refreshing coconut water and relish the soft, crunchy coconut meat! I add coconuts to smoothies, eat them on their own or slice the coconut meat into noodles and make interesting raw coconut noodle dishes!
Dark, Leafy Greens
Dark leafy green vegetables are an excellent source of calcium. Dandelion greens are the richest source with 10% RDA per cup and kale following a close second with 9% RDA per cup. I make a green smoothie every morning and usually add 3 cups of these greens. A smoothie with just two cups of dandelion and one young coconut will provide as much if not more calcium than a glass of cows milk, and will be a lot more nutritious too!
Dandelion and kale are not the only greens with calcium. Spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens, beet greens, turnip greens, leaf lettuce and romaine all have varying levels of calcium.
Did you know that citrus fruit is a good source of calcium? A medium orange will have about 5% RDA while a lemon has 7%. Papaya is also a good source with 7% RDA and a kiwifruit has about 3%. Snack on these fruits throughout the day or add them to your green smoothies!
Nuts and Seeds
Just one tablespoon of whole sesame seeds has 9% RDA of calcium! Think about all the things you can do with sesame seeds and at the same time, fortify your meals with lots of calcium. Add ground sesame seeds to green smoothies, make a raw hummus with sesame tahini or use it in salad dressings! Add it to raw nut butters or use them in raw desserts.
Chia seeds are another excellent source of calcium. One ounce has 18% RDA of calcium! Add them to smoothies or make them into your favorite raw recipes.
Flax seed, while being a rich source of Omega-3 essential fatty acids, also add calcium to your diet. One tablespoon has 3% RDA so as an added benefit to getting your daily fix of Omega-3s, you’ll also be helping to fulfill your calcium needs
Almonds are also high in calcium with 1/4 cup providing 9% RDA. Unfortunately, most almonds in the store are not truly raw because they have been pasteurized. You can either seek out “really raw” almonds online or simply make this one concession in your high-raw diet to get the valuable nutrients almonds contain regardless.
I recommend that you stick with getting most of your calcium from greens, fruit and vegetables and limit your fat intake on a raw food diet.
Yep, vegetables have calcium too. Some more than others. A cucumber will give you 5% of your daily value of calcium. Both celery and carrots provide 2% per stalk or carrot.
Chick peas (garbanzo beans) are a rich source of calcium (and protein) and just a half cup provides 11% RDA of calcium! Chick peas are easy to sprout and once sprouted, can be eaten as-is, added to salads or made into a raw hummus. Hummus also calls for sesame tahini so it’ll be a super-rich source of calcium on a raw diet!
Do You Need Calcium Supplements?
As long as you are meeting your calorie needs on a low fat, raw or high-raw vegan diet, you should not need to supplement with calcium. Track your nutrients periodically and be sure you are including enough of the above calcium-rich foods in your daily diet.
It is also important to get enough vitamin D (sunshine or supplements) as well as regular exercise which helps strengthen bones. Studies show that taking extra dietary or supplemental calcium is not enough to maintain bone health. Other aspects of diet and overall fitness play important roles as well.
These are just a few of the calcium-rich raw vegan foods available to you. You don’t need to worry about not eating dairy for calcium! Simply eat a varied diet and be sure to include these foods on a daily basis.
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Tracy Russell is the creator of the Green Smoothie Weight Loss Program, the 30-Day Whole Foods Challenge and founder of Incredible Smoothies. She is passionate about helping people improve their health with green smoothies and a whole foods lifestyle.
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