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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Got Calcium?

The most nutritious sources of non-dairy calcium

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, with approximately 99 percent found in the bones and teeth, and 1 percent in the blood and remaining tissues. Calcium’s role in keeping a body healthy is multifaceted, including supporting the formation of strong teeth and bones, regulating blood pH, allowing muscles to lengthen and contract properly, and supporting heart and nerve functions. It is therefore critical to one’s overall health to regulate calcium levels in the body at all times.

There is a widely held belief that the best place to get calcium is from dairy products. What many people don’t know is that pasteurized dairy products are typically very acidic and can actually cause harm to the body. Acidic foods cause the body to attempt to bring itself back to a state of alkalinity. This is done by pulling calcium from the bones, which over time can cause brittle bones and osteoporosis.

A much better choice nutritionally is choosing non-dairy and plant-based calcium sources. Dark green, leafy vegetables such as kale, collards, spinach, turnips and mustard greens are extremely high in calcium, and are alkaline. When eaten raw, these greens provide the most nutrition, because cooking creates some acidity and loss of enzymes. Other greens high in calcium include okra, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and bok choy.

Nuts and seeds are also a great source of non-dairy calcium. Sesame seeds are high in calcium and can be eaten raw or ground into a creamy paste, called tahini. Brazil nuts and almonds have quite a bit of calcium and can be soaked in filtered water overnight, drained and eaten raw. After soaking Brazil nuts, they can also be blended with filtered water to make delicious Brazil nut milk.

Black beans, navy beans and lentils are high in calcium and may be soaked and sprouted before eating. This increases the enzymes and nutrients and the beans become a living food, with a little sprout bursting from the bean. To grow sprouted foods, soak the beans overnight in a four-to-one ratio of water to beans. Drain the beans the next morning and put them in a colander until all the water drains off. Rinse the beans in the morning and evening for two to three days until you see a sprouted tail emerge. When the tail is about the same length as the bean, they are ready to eat. Sprouted beans can be combined with other vegetables and spices to create tasty, delicious dishes that are super-rich in nutrients and calcium.

Bok Kale Salad

2 cups bok choy 2 cups kale 1 cup sprouted mung beans 1 Tbsp garlic ½ cup red bell pepper 2 medjool dates ¼ cup sesame oil ½ cup fresh lemon juice ¼ cup filtered water ½ tsp Himalayan salt 3 Tbsp sesame seeds

Grind the sesame seeds in the Vita Mix. Add the sesame oil, lemon juice, dates, garlic and salt and blend into a creamy dressing. Chop the bok choy, kale and red bell pepper into small pieces and toss with the dressing until all is well coated. For a spicier flavor, add a pinch or two of cayenne pepper. 

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