Kale is the richest common vegetable in calcium. It can help us meet our daily needs of calcium.
Health benefits of calcium
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body! It’s necessary for strong bones and teeth. Calcium deficiency may lead to osteoporosis.
In addition, calcium is involved in muscle movement and flexibility, blood vessel contraction and dilation, blood clotting, nerve transmission, and hormonal secretion.
Getting adequate amounts of calcium may lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke, atherosclerosis, and even certain cancers.[1,2]
How much calcium do we need a day?
The recommended daily intake of calcium is 1,000 mg for adults.
Only women older than 50 years should get at least 1,200 mg of calcium a day, due to increased risk of osteoporosis. Calcium absorption declines with age.
Moreover, children older than 13 years and teenagers require at least 1,300 mg of calcium a day, due to rapid bone growth.
What’s the calcium content of kale?
Actually, kale is among the richest vegetables in calcium. It has 254 mg of calcium per 100g. This is about 25% of the recommended daily intake!
Just a small 1-cup serving of kale has 52 mg of calcium, or more than 5% of the recommended daily intake.
Actually, kale is a great ingredient for weight loss banana smoothies!
We absorb most calcium of kale!
Most noteworthy, calcium in kale is highly bioavailable! Kale doesn’t contain certain compounds which bind to calcium, inhibiting its absorption.
In fact, the bioavailability of kale is similar to that of milk! We absorb about 27% of calcium of milk.
Broccoli and cabbage have increased calcium bioavailability as well.
Certainly, if you follow a healthy, well-balanced diet, you shouldn’t worry about calcium consumption. The interaction of oxalic or phytic acid with calcium doesn’t significantly affect total calcium intake. The best way to boost calcium intake is to eat a wide variety of foods high in calcium.
Vitamin D can increase the absorption rates of calcium as well. But, as vitamin D isn’t naturally present in many foods, many people would benefit from taking vitamin D supplements. You’ll find a wide variety of vitamin D supplements on iHerb.
On the other hand, high amounts of caffeine can reduce the absorption of calcium.
Calcium: Kale vs Spinach
Spinach, collard greens, sweet potatoes, rhubarb, and beans have a decreased calcium bioavailability. These foods are high in oxalic acid and phytic acid. These compounds form indigestible salts with calcium, inhibiting its absorption.
Actually, we absorb only 5% of calcium of spinach and other foods high in oxalic acid.
Furthermore, kale has more calcium than spinach and the other common vegetables. For instance, spinach has only 67 mg of calcium per 100g. Therefore, kale has almost 4 times more calcium than spinach!
Does cooking affect the calcium content of kale?
Cooking negatively affects the calcium content of kale. It can decrease its calcium content up to 70%!
Boiled kale contains only 150 mg of calcium per 100g.
Try to steam or fry kale in order to limit calcium losses. Moreover, you better prefer eating kale soups in order to consume the nutrient-rich water. Also, avoid boiling vegetables for a long time. Exposure of kale to high temperatures for a long time leads to a significant reduction of the calcium content.
Common foods high in calcium
Certainly, cow’s milk and dairy are great dietary sources of calcium. An 8 fl oz glass of cow’s milk contains about 310 mg of calcium
Fish are also high in calcium. Especially, small fish like sardines, which are eaten with bones.
But, we can get high amounts of calcium from plant-based sources as well. Beans, and certain vegetables, such as kale, spinach, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage (bok choi) are great dietary sources of calcium.
You can boost your daily calcium intake, adding some moringa powder to your smoothies. Moringa powder is among the richest foods in calcium. It contains about 2,700 mg of calcium per 100g, or 70 mg per a 2-tsp serving! Moringa powder is a true superfood! You’ll find a wide variety of moringa supplements and powders on iHerb.
Consuming high amounts of calcium from food is safe. But, we shouldn’t get too much from supplements.
Cow’s milk & dairy shouldn’t be the main dietary sources of calcium
Although cow’s milk and dairy are pretty rich in calcium, we shouldn’t depend on them to meet our daily needs. We should consume them only in moderation.
Milk and dairy are pretty high in saturated fats. A glass of whole milk contains approximately 4.6 g of saturated fats, while a slice of cheddar cheese contains 3.3 g!
Most noteworthy, cow’s milk and dairy naturally contain trans fats! A serving of cow’s milk contains about 0.28 g of trans fats, while a slice of cheddar cheese contains 0.19 g! Trans fats are very dangerous for the heart.[6,7]
The American Heart Association recommends consuming up to 13 g of saturated fats per day. Above all, we should consume no trans fats.
Why should I eat kale regularly?
Kale is a cruciferous vegetable with great health benefits. It’s pretty rich in antioxidant compounds, like vitamin C, polyphenols, carotenoids, and glucosinolates.
Also, it’s high in vitamin K, fiber, and iron. Furthermore, it contains decent amounts of protein.
Kale may reduce the risk of coronary artery disease, as well as other chronic or degenerative diseases. Also, kale may lower cholesterol and help lose weight.[9,10,11]
Last, but not least, kale has powerful anti-cancer properties.