Vegetables High In Calcium

We are all aware of the importance of calcium, the benefit it has for our body and that it cannot function without it. Calcium is found naturally in dairy products and is added to a plethora of common foods such as orange juice, cereal, soy milk and breads. Most recommendations to add calcium in your diet will point you towards dairy products, but, a common question for many vegans and vegetarians who don’t eat dairy products is, “What vegetables are high in calcium?”

Before we get into specific vegetables and their calcium content we need to look at the difference in absorption of calcium from foods. Calcium is absorbed far better from dairy products than vegetables. Moreover, vegetables that are high in calcium but are also high in oxalic acid, such as spinach, sweet potatoes and beans, don’t provide the body as much calcium as they contain. The Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium states, “In comparison to calcium absorption from milk, calcium absorption from dried beans is about half and from spinach is about one tenth.” Oxalic acid essentially blocks calcium absorption. Protein and caffeine may also have a negative impact on the retention of Calcium. This must all be taken into account when choosing plant-based calcium sources.

The following chart has vegetables categorized by oxalate content, “Low” to “Very High.” Within those categories each vegetable is listed in order from highest calcium content to lowest. As you’ll see, spinach has the highest calcium content, but since it has a “Very High Oxalate” content it is not a good choice for calcium. Be sure to choose from the “Moderate” to “Low” oxalate categories to maximize calcium absorption.

 

Food

Serving SIze

Calcium (mg)

% DV

Calories

Oxalate Content

Dill

2 tsp

63.67

6.37

12.8

Low Oxalate

Basil

2 tsp

59.16

5.92

7

Low Oxalate

Oregano

2 tsp

57.49

5.75

9.5

Low Oxalate

Broccoli

1 cup raw

42.77

4.28

30.9

Low Oxalate

Brussels Sprouts

1 cup raw

36.96

3.7

37.8

Low Oxalate

Romaine Lettuce

2 cups

31.02

3.1

16

Low Oxalate

Cabbage, Green

1 cup raw

28

2.8

17.5

Low Oxalate

Kale

1 cup cooked

93.6

9.36

36.4

Moderate Oxalate

Thyme

2 tsp

52.92

5.29

7.7

Moderate Oxalate

Cinnamon

2 tsp

52.1

5.21

12.8

Moderate Oxalate

Asparagus

1 cup raw

32.16

3.22

26.8

Moderate Oxalate

Fennel

1 cup raw

42.63

4.26

27

Moderate Oxalate

Collard Greens

1 cup cooked

266

26.6

49.4

High Oxalate

Turnip Greens

1 cup cooked

197.28

19.73

28.8

High Oxalate

Mustard Greens

1 cup cooked

103.6

10.36

21

High Oxalate

Celery

1 cup

40.4

4.04

16.2

High Oxalate

Spinach

1 cup cooked

244.8

24.48

41.4

Very High Oxalate

Swiss Chard

1 cup cooked

101.5

10.15

35

Very High Oxalate

Sesame Seeds

0.25 cup

351

35.1

206.3

Very High Oxalate

Leeks

1 cup raw

52.51

5.25

54.3

Very High Oxalate

 

Works Cited for “Vegetables High in Calcium:” 

  1. O’Connor, H. The Oxalate Content of Food. http://www.ohf.org/docs/OxalateContent092003.pdf

  2. National Research Council. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1997.

  3. Agricultural Research Service. United States Department of Agriculture. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Release 26. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list

Photo Source: Kale

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