Your bones help your body in many ways. They protect your organs, anchor your muscles, provide structure to your body and store calcium. Supporting your bones is important at any point in your life, but it is especially key for younger adults. When children are growing, their bones are vulnerable, so children need to strengthen their bones quickly.
Otherwise, they could end up with conditions like osteoporosis, which causes bones to become weak and brittle. It is also important to eat a diet that supports bone health in your old age, as bone density can diminish over time.
One of the most effective ways to support your bones is to eat the right foods. Foods rich in calcium and other nutrients like vitamin D help strengthen your bones. Many foods that are good for your bones are also good for your general health, making it even more important to include these foods in your diet. If you want the best foods to promote healthy bones, consider adding key superfoods to your diet.
Superfoods do not reference a specific food group — they are any nutritionally dense food. Many superfoods are plant-based, but there are some dairy products and fish that are classified as superfoods. Continue reading to find out the best foods to eat to support your bone health.
Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. A study conducted at the University of Maryland Medical Center showed the fatty acids from salmon increased the absorption of calcium into the body.
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Research also shows people who are deficient in fatty acids like omega-3 are more likely to suffer bone loss. However, consuming omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce your risk of osteoporosis and other bone conditions.
2. White Beans
The white bean is a legume that is an excellent source of fiber and protein. White beans are nearly fat-free, making them a great addition to any diet. Additionally, they are an excellent source of calcium, which is great for strengthening your bones. Just one cup of cooked white beans contains approximately 160 grams of calcium.
3. Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds are not only tasty, but they are also good for bone health. Just a quarter cup of sesame seeds contains 126 milligrams of magnesium, 226 milligrams of phosphorous and 352 milligrams of calcium. All of these nutrients are good for your bones, making sesame seeds an excellent addition to your diet. Try toasting your sesame seeds to get an extra element of flavor out of them.
Dairy products, such as yogurt and cheese, are famously reliable sources of calcium. Yogurt can provide up to 50 percent of your recommended daily calcium intake, making it an excellent choice for breakfast or an afternoon snack. Cheese is good because it also contains vitamin B, which helps to promote a healthy metabolism.
5. Collard Greens
The leafy green vegetables called collard greens are a great source of calcium, omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium. In addition, collard greens contain vitamin K too, which is another essential nutrient for bone health. Collard greens have plenty of other health benefits due to containing sulforaphane, which has anti-diabetic, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer properties. If you don’t get enough vegetables in your diet, this tasty superfood can be easy to incorporate and enjoyable to munch on.
What other superfoods are good for bones?
Research conducted by a study in New Zealand found some superfoods were good for building bone density. The study was performed on 142 postmenopausal women. 52 percent of this group had osteopenia, a few had osteoporosis and the rest had normal bone density.
The study found that there was a significant reduction in bone breakdown among women who ate different superfoods. The superfoods used in the study include:
- Green beans
- Leafy green vegetables
- Citrus fruits
Microgreens for Bone Health
A latecomer to the health bandwagon is the mighty microgreen. Microgreens are the immature seedlings of various vegetables. At this stage in development, the plants have a concentrated dose of nutrients and vitamins. Many grocery stores and health food stores have begun to carry them, but you can also grow them right on your own windowsill. Aim for those microgreens highest in calcium such as:
- Savoy cabbage
How Other Foods Affect Your Bones
Just as there are foods responsible for building up your body’s systems, there are also foods you should avoid consuming in high quantities. Salty foods, for example, cause your body to lose calcium.
When you are looking at ingredients, check for sodium levels, as this refers to how much salt is in a product. Aim to consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of salt each day.
In addition, getting enough protein is important for healthy bones and for your overall health. Meat and dairy products are both good sources of protein. However, you need to be aware multiple servings of foods containing protein can cause your body to actually lose calcium. If you are unsure how much protein is healthy for your diet, speak with your doctor or a dietician. In general, a proper amount is the size of the inside of the palm of your hand, or a little less than four ounces.
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Spinach and other foods high in oxalates, such as beet greens and rhubarb, absorb calcium. As a result, they are not good for your bones. However, they do contain lots of other healthy nutrients, so do not avoid them altogether. Just make sure you are getting enough calcium from other sources to compensate.
One important thing to keep in mind is there are high levels of phytates in wheat bran. Phylates stop your body from absorbing calcium efficiently. Even though other foods can prevent calcium absorption, wheat bran is the only one that reduces the absorption of calcium from other foods you eat at the same time. Therefore, if you eat cereal with milk, your body will not absorb as much of the calcium from the milk as it would have from ingesting the same amount of milk alone.
What about drinks?
There are several drinks that promote healthy bones. Milk is high in calcium, and it is most commonly associated with building strong bones. One of the reasons schools carry milk is to promote healthy bone growth in children. Orange juice is also a good source of calcium and contains vitamin D as well.
However, it is also important to avoid certain drinks for your health. For example, drinking alcohol heavily can lead to bone density loss. You need to limit your alcohol intake to two or three drinks a day at the most.
Caffeine is also bad for bones because it decreases the absorption of calcium. Drinking more than three cups of tea, coffee or soft drinks that contain caffeine each day can eventually lead to bone loss.
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