July 11, 2011
As we age, our bones become weaker due to a loss of minerals, causing what we all know as osteoporosis. Women are more prone than men to have weak bones, especially over the age of 50. Exercise (weight bearing) and diet can help prevent bone loss as can supplements. Adults over the age of 50 need 1200 mgs of calcium a day for good health. Don’t overdo it though – more than 2500 mgs can be harmful.
We all know dairy can be a great source of calcium – milk, yogurt and cheese. But there are a lot of nondairy foods that offer a great punch of calcium too – especially important if you are lactose-intolerant. Salmon, tofu, rhubarb, sardines, dark greens, okra, beans, broccoli, peas, Brussel sprouts sesame seeds, bok choy and almonds are all great nondairy sources of calcium. There are also a lot of calcium fortified foods available, like orange juice, cereals, and breads. Read your labels to see if your favorite brand is fortified.
Vitamin D and C are very important in absorbing calcium, Vitamin D-rich foods include egg yolks, saltwater fish, liver, and fortified milk. Vitamin C helps the body absorb calcium and is available in many forms including citrus, tomatoes and berries. On the flip side, caffeine can inhibit your body’s ability to absorb calcium and should be avoided for at least 30 mins after taking calcium for maximum absorption.
Having said this – a perfect bone healthy breakfast includes vitamin D fortified milk over a healthy fortified cereal, strawberries and almonds with a glass of orange juice. Try a cheese omelette made with whole eggs and spinach with a side of vitamin D fortified toast and almond butter. Yogurt over whole grain waffles with berries and almonds instead of syrup is delicious too.
For lunch, try anchovies or sardines in a white bean salad with low fat pudding. Salmon burgers made with red peppers, scallions and topped with a yogurt dill sauce is divine. Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup is a classic, healthy combo.
For dinner try spinach lasagna or a tofu stir fry with broccoli, peas, carrots and sesame seeds. Strawberry rhubarb pie a la mode for dessert, or try vanilla yogurt layered with fresh fruit and toasted almonds for creamy goodness.
Yogurt or soft tofu can work blended into your salad dressings, and as a topper for baked potatoes. Soft tofu can replace ricotta in stuffed shells, baked pasta dishes and even cheesecake. Experiment with different cheeses for more flavor and variety. Muenster, swiss, gruyere all melt nicely. Try gorgonzola with pears, or manchego or goat cheese in a salad. Use 2% or evaporated skim milk in your favorite cream soup and sauce recipes to cut the fat but not the flavor.
Whether you are lactose intolerant or live on a dairy farm, calcium comes in many forms and flavors. Adding vitamin D and C for maximum punch and a few weights for strong bones helps ensure you will enjoy a healthier retirement. Bon Appetit!