By Indra Kaur
Are you getting enough calcium? We hear this over and over from friends, health experts, and in the media. There is a lot of attention on calcium requirements and dairy products as a source of calcium. Calcium not only builds bones, but also calms the nervous system and allows muscles to relax. While many people take supplements to make sure that they are getting enough calcium, there are also many foods besides dairy products that are good sources of calcium.
Sources of Calcium
Calcium is found in most fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Some good food sources of calcium are green leafy vegetables, beans, seaweed, and molasses (see chart). Two vegetables, Swiss chard and spinach, both contain calcium, but they also contain oxalates that form such a strong bond with the calcium that very little of it in these vegetables will be available for the body to absorb.
The Humble Sesame Seed
Sesame seeds are high in both calcium and protein but you get more calcium in sesame butter made with unhulled sesame seeds than you do from sesame tahini made with hulled sesame seeds, because the majority of the calcium is found in the hulls of the sesame seeds. The catch is that the hull of the sesame seed needs to be ground or blended for proper digestion, and in order for the calcium to be absorbed. Roasting the seeds before they are ground enhances their flavor without affecting their calcium content.
Ground unhulled sesame seeds are used as a nutritious and tasty addition to many recipes, especially when sprinkled over main courses, added to sauces, salad dressing, cereal, veggie burgers, and soups. In soups and tomato sauces they add a rich, cheesy flavor.
The Fountain of Youth
By Yogi Bhajan
For good health, youthful radiance, and to improve elimination, try this recipe which includes a unique combination of ingredients. It makes a very tasty breakfast smoothie. Soak the almonds overnight in water, then discard the water and peel the skins off, discarding them as well. Serves 1-2.
½-1 cup water
2 green peppers
3 Tbsp raw, unhulled sesame seeds
15 raw almonds, soaked and peeled
2 apples, with peel, cored and quartered
2 bananas, relatively ripe
The inner white pulp of the banana peels
1. Place the water in the blender.
2. Add the ingredients in the order given, one at a time, blending well after each addition. Be sure that the sesame seeds and the almonds are well blended before adding the next ingredient. Blend until smooth. To separate the pulp from the inside of the banana peels, carefully run a spoon down each strip of the peels.
- Three tablespoons of unhulled sesame seeds = 315 mg of calcium
- Three tablespoons of white hulled sesame seeds = 30 mg of calcium
- Three tablespoons of sesame seeds also contain 5 grams of protein
- When taking calcium supplements, always take them with meals
- The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for calcium is about 1000 mg/day for most adults
Food Source Amount of Calcium
1 cup collard greens, cooked 304 mg
1 cup broccoli, cooked 135 mg
3 oz. tempeh 129 mg
1/2 cup tofu 150-250 mg
1 cup milk or yogurt 288 mg
1 oz. cheddar cheese 200 mg
1/2 cup almonds 150 mg
3 Tbsp un-hulled sesame seeds 315 mg
2 Tbsp blackstrap molasses 344 mg
1 cup navy beans, cooked 126 mg
Indra Kaur Khalsa teaches Kundalini Yoga and Sat Nam Rasayan classes near Boulder, Colorado. She has a Ph.D. in Food Science and Nutrition and has been a student of Kundalini Yoga since 1978. She uses yoga, meditation, Sat Nam Rasayan, and nutrition to help restore the body's natural capacity to balance itself.