As we age, our bones lose mass and become less dense — making us more prone to bone fractures and illnesses like osteoporosis. This is why it’s important to take care of our bones now. Regular exercise, avoiding smoking and drinking, and taking bone health supplements all help to strengthen our bones. But, nothing beats eating foods that are chock-full of bone-friendly nutrients. With that in mind, here are 7 foods that you need to have in your diet if you don’t want to have brittle bones in the future.
There’s no better source of calcium than dairy products like milk and yogurt. It’s been long acknowledged that calcium is the key nutrient for strong bones and teeth. So if you’re looking for low-fat ways of consuming dairy, New York dietitian Marjorie Nolan recommends fat-free Greek yogurt.
All nuts are a great source of protein and magnesium — two nutrients that are vital in developing stronger bones. However, some nuts have extra nutrients that will ensure that your bones stay strong as you age. Walnuts, in particular, are better for bone health since they have high levels of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 acid that is found to slow down bone metabolism. Nuts can be savored on their own, but they also work well in desserts and pastries.
Seeds, like the ones from pumpkins, contain a high amount of bone-building nutrients like magnesium. The parathyroid gland, which oversees bone mineralization in the body, is easily stimulated by upping your magnesium intake. Another seed that packs a lot of bone-building punch is the humble chia seed. Pretty Me notes how these tiny seeds contain high amounts of calcium, phosphorus, and manganese that can help build stronger and healthier bones. Its calcium content is particularly high, too — at 180g of it per ounce. To enjoy seeds in your meals, you can add them to breakfast fruit bowls so you get a crunchy texture with every bite.
Salmon, tuna, and other types of fatty fish contain a ton of Vitamin D, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids — all essential nutrients in strengthening bones. Researchers from Ohio State University found out that omega-3 fatty acids may slow down your body from developing osteoporosis. So if you want to avoid getting brittle bones in the future, make sure you eat a plate of tuna sashimi or salmon steak every now and then.
Other than being a great source of protein, soybeans also contribute to bone health since they contain phytoestrogens called isoflavones. Studies have found a link between isoflavones and bone-building — further proving that soy is highly beneficial to bone health. From firm tofu to soy milk, you’ve got countless ways to incorporate soy beans into your diet.
While this starchy vegetable isn’t explicitly advertised as a bone-building food, potatoes have naturally high levels of phosphorus, iron, magnesium, and calcium. These nutrients all have a hand in maintaining strong bones. However, it’s best to keep in mind that you shouldn’t eat too much phosphorus, as this may cause bone loss when consumed in large amounts.
We all know that dairy is superior when it comes to calcium levels, but did you know that leafy greens can rival this bone health staple? Eat Drink Better notes that we only absorb 30% of the calcium in milk, but we absorb almost 50% of the calcium we get from leafy greens like turnip greens. This means that leafy greens may be an even more reliable source of calcium. For a delicious, calcium-filled meal, try making a salad that’s made with leafy greens and yogurt dressing. This way, you get two sources of calcium in one meal.