Calcium is vital in all stages of life, from young growing children, all the way through to old age. Calcium makes up 1-2% of an adults body weight, making it the most abundant mineral in the body. Most of us remember being told to drink our milk at school as it contains Calcium to make our bones healthy. And while this fact is true, you will see that Calcium can be found in many food sources other than dairy. For people that cannot, or do not wish to eat dairy, it is still easy enough to get all the calcium you need. Just ensure that you regularly eat a variety of the calcium rich foods listed below, along with the other nutrients essential for optimal Calcium absorption.
Why do we need calcium?
Where can I find calcium?
Rich sources of calcium include dark green leafy vegetables (such as broccoli, spring greens and kale), tofu, dairy products, sardines, sesame seeds, oranges, figs, seaweeds and fortified dairy free milks.
Factors that reduce calcium absorption in the body
Vitamin D status, age, lowered oestrogen levels, high amounts of phytic acid or oxalic acid, chronic GI problems, low stomach acid levels, pregnancy, excessive alcohol intake, some medications.
Other important nutrients
If you are concerned you may not be getting enough calcium, vitamin D or vitamin K2, speak to a nutrition professional. They can ensure that you maximise your calcium absorption, for a healthy and strong body, now and in the future.
Its always great to try different variations on favourite dishes. This is what fills the pages of most cookbooks, publications and foodie blogs, as people look for new and updated ideas. However, a classic dish done well is hard to beat. These are often dishes that have been passed through families for generations and the reason for this is that they taste great!
One classic dish that is very popular in middle eastern cuisines is hummus. Hummus is now very popular in the UK too, and while most shop bought hummus is fine, home made hummus tastes far superior. Once you have tried it there will be no going back.
Full of nutritious goodness, and smooth and creamy in flavour, this hummus only takes minutes to make. It will last for 3-5 days in the fridge.
You can use tinned chickpeas or dried chickpeas. If you prefer to use dried chickpeas, batch cook some and then freeze them in portions so that you have them to hand when you need them. You can defrost them in boiling water the same way you would with garden peas.
What nutritional benefits can you get from eating hummus?
CHICKPEAS - rich in fibre which is great for healthy digestion. The soluble fibre in chickpeas is also linked to lowering LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. The combination of fibre and protein in chickpeas is also excellent for blood sugar stability. Chickpeas are also rich in antioxidants which help to mop up free radical damage in the body, helping to prevent chronic disease and ageing.
TAHINI - is made from crushed sesame seeds. Sesame seeds might be tiny but they are nutritional powerhouses, rich in minerals such as Copper, Manganese, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron and Zinc. They have also been shown to have a positive effect on lowering LDL cholesterol.
GARLIC - garlic is a true superfood. It has a chemical compound called Allicin which has powerful medicinal properties. Garlic has been found to be antiviral and antibacterial so it is a great immune system booster. Another ingredient that can assist in lowering LDL cholesterol. Garlic has also been shown to be useful in reducing high blood pressure.
OLIVE OIL - hailed as another superfood across the mediterranean. Olive oil is rich in antioxidants which can prevent free radical damage and reduce inflammation in the body. It also has antibacterial properties. Be sure to buy cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, and ensure it is in a dark glass bottle (to prevent oxidation).
140g cooked chickpeas
1 garlic clove roughly chopped
3 heaped tsp tahini
3 tsp lemon juice
a little water
Extra virgin olive oil
A good pinch of sea salt