Our bones are strong and healthy through childhood and as young adults, but as we hit middle age, they slowly begin to thin out. For us women, menopause usually accelerates this process. There are ways to put on the brakes, however, and one of the best lines of defense is your diet -- eating the right foods can give you maximum bone mass and boost your bone density at any age.
Everyone knows that calcium is essential for bone health, but do you know what foods are good sources of calcium – other than milk? You might be surprised to learn that calcium is plentiful in many vegetables. Go for greens such as bok choy, Chinese cabbage, and kale. The traditional soul food favorites, collard and turnip greens, offer a lot of calcium, too. One cup of chopped, cooked turnip greens has about 200 milligrams of calcium. Milk and dairy products are not the only ways to get your calcium. Another excellent source is sardines. All those little fish bones have just what you need to build bone mass. Eating 3 ounces of canned sardines delivers more calcium than a cup of milk. My favorite fish, salmon, is another great source of bone-boosting nutrients. Salmon and other fatty fish contain calcium as well as vitamin D, which helps with calcium absorption. And fish oil supplements have been shown to reduce bone loss and help prevent osteoporosis. If sardines and collard greens don’t float your boat, try adding fortified foods to your diet. These are products that do not naturally contain calcium but have been enhanced with this essential mineral. For instance, fortified orange juice has up to 240 milligrams of calcium, and fortified cereals deliver up to 1,000 milligrams per cup. You can use fortified soy mile with fruit and nuts at breakfast. Check the nutritional labels of everything you purchase, and enjoy healthy bones throughout your life!
Best of Health,