by Tracey Pollack
Make no bones about it…healthy bones are built on a healthy diet. The two nutrients with the strongest bone-building abilities are calcium and vitamin D. They work together to work wonders for the health of your bones. See, calcium helps strengthen your bones, but your body needs vitamin D to absorb this mighty mineral. If your diet is low in these nutrients, you’ll have a higher risk for bone loss and a condition known as osteoporosis, which occurs when bones get weak and prone to breaking. But your diet can make a difference in the health and strength of your bones. Your body needs certain bone-building nutrients, and there are plenty of delicious foods to help feed your needs. Get a taste of the foods to choose for a lifetime of healthy bones.
1. Make a Tart Start with Yogurt
Whether you reach for Greek, traditional, nonfat, full-fat, kefir or one of the many non-dairy alternatives, yogurt is a perfect package of calcium, vitamin D, protein and potassium. These nutrients help strengthen bones and lower your risk of osteoporosis. Yogurt’s versatility makes it a natural at any meal. Spoon some into yogurt bowls at breakfast, stir into salads for lunch, blend into dressings for dinner, and mix into muffins and dips for snacks. As you can see, there are plenty of healthy and tasty ways to say “yes” to yogurt.
2. Say Cheese!
When it comes to healthy bones, cheese gives you plenty of reasons to smile. Cheese offers twice the benefits because it’s rich in calcium and often fortified with vitamin D, so your bones are able to absorb it as you enjoy it. Cheese pleases at any meal, whether folded into an omelet, melted in gooey sandwiches, sprinkled over a salad, baked into classic casseroles or served with fruit for a grab-and-go snack.
3. Toss In Some Tofu
If you’re not doing dairy, go for tofu. Research has shown that this soybean-based source of calcium, magnesium and protein may help reduce bone loss and boost overall bone density. What to do with tofu? Marinate slices and grill it, sauté it or bake it for a healthy entrée. Toss tofu into a spicy stir-fry. Blend it up for a fruity smoothie or swap it for scrambled eggs.
4. Catch Some Fatty Fish
While fatty fish like salmon, sardines and tuna are full of omega-3 fatty acids, they also tip the scales with their abundance of vitamin D. While most of us enjoy these fish in cans for convenience, cast a wider net by baking fillets for dinner, serving smoked slices at breakfast, mixing flakes into dips or ordering raw as sushi. With its versatility and bone-boosting benefits, it’s time to get hooked on fatty fish.
5. Go Green
Look beyond the dairy case to the produce section and you’ll find an abundance of calcium in dark leafy greens. Leafy greens like spinach, kale, collard greens and bok choy are excellent sources of calcium and other bone-building nutrients like protein, iron, vitamins and magnesium. They’re also full of vitamin K, which helps reduce your risk of osteoporosis. But don’t limit yourself to just leafy greens because broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts are also rich in these necessary nutrients. Adding these veggies to salads, stir-fries, smoothies and more can add up to healthier bones.
So go for these healthy foods to keep your bones going and growing strong.