When you think about foods to build healthy bones, your mind probably goes straight to the dairy case. That can take care of your daily calcium requirements but may not cover the other nutrients that calcium depends on to help boost your bone density.
In fact, these five bone-building super foods may surprise you.
1 Swiss chard, a boldly colored leafy green, contains high levels of crucial bone building nutrients, including vitamin K, magnesium, and calcium. On top of that Swiss chard is rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, and special phytonutrients called betalains that offer a myriad of health benefits. The best way to cook Swiss chard is to boil it (this releases acids for a less bitter taste), then you can add it to omelets, quiches, and pasta dishes.
Raspberries contain vitamin K, magnesium, and folate, along with several potent antioxidants and dozens of phytonutrients. These brilliant ruby berries are highly perishable, so refrigerate them, and eat them quickly when you buy them fresh. They also freeze very well, so you can stock up at the height of raspberry season (mid to late summer) and enjoy these bone-boosting berries year-round.
3 Sardines are packed with calcium and vitamin D, making them the perfect bone-healthy food. In addition, they contain two more nutrients that are important for bone health: phosphorous and vitamin B12. Ounce for ounce, you won’t find a better natural dietary source of vitamin D, which helps you body absorb the calcium that comes along with it. Sardines go well with strong flavors, like olive oil, garlic and lemon, making them a super salad and pasta topper.
4 Tofu supplies abundant amounts of calcium and magnesium for healthy bones, along with dozens of other supportive minerals and vitamins. Tofu can be enjoyed fresh or frozen; if you want to freeze your tofu (which gives it a beefier texture), drain all the liquid it came in and press the tofu with a heavy object to squeeze out as much liquid as possible before freezing. You can enjoy fresh tofu in both sweet and savory dishes: Try blending it into dips, puddings, or smoothies. Since frozen tofu (once defrosted) absorbs flavors very well, try marinating it and cooking it on the grill.
5 Green beans come jam-packed with a variety of bone-boosting nutrients, including plentiful supplies of vitamin K, calcium, and magnesium plus vitamin B6, folate, and beta-carotene. To get the biggest bone-nutrient packed punch out of your fresh green beans, steam them for 5-7 minutes, until fork tender. Green beans make a great addition to warm or cold salads.