5 Calcium-Rich Foods for Lactose Intolerant Diets
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For individuals allergic to dairy, obtaining sufficient calcium can be challenging. Calcium is essential for bone health, muscle function, and overall well-being. Fortunately, Indian cuisine offers a plethora of non-dairy sources of calcium that are both nutritious and delicious. According to WebMD, a single serving of some fortified cereals can contain over 1,000 mg of calcium. 

Navigating a dairy allergy while ensuring adequate calcium intake is manageable with the variety of calcium-rich foods available in Indian cuisine. From leafy greens and tofu to nuts, seeds, and legumes, there are plenty of delicious options to incorporate into your diet. By choosing these calcium-rich alternatives, individuals allergic to dairy can maintain optimal bone health and overall well-being without compromising on taste or nutrition. This article explores various Indian dishes and ingredients that are excellent sources of calcium, providing valuable alternatives for those who cannot consume dairy products.

Benefits Of Calcium

Calcium plays a crucial role in maintaining strong bones and teeth, supporting muscle function, nerve transmission, and hormone secretion. For dairy-allergic individuals, finding alternative sources of calcium is essential to prevent deficiency-related health issues such as osteoporosis.

Leafy Green Vegetables

Leafy greens such as spinach (palak), fenugreek leaves (methi), and amaranth leaves (chaulai) are rich in calcium. These vegetables are commonly used in Indian cooking, either as main ingredients or added to curries and stir-fries. For instance, spinach is a versatile ingredient that can be used to make palak paneer (spinach with cottage cheese), a popular North Indian dish that combines the goodness of spinach with other calcium-rich ingredients.

Incorporate leafy greens into your diet by making dishes like palak paneer, methi paratha (fenugreek flatbread), or saag (mixed greens curry). These dishes not only provide calcium but also offer a variety of other nutrients and flavours typical of Indian cuisine.

Tofu (Soy Paneer)

Tofu, also known as soy paneer in India, is an excellent non-dairy source of calcium. Made from soy milk, tofu is versatile and can be used in both savoury and sweet dishes. In Indian cuisine, tofu is often marinated and added to curries, stir-fries, or even desserts like tofu pudding (sooji aur tofu ka halwa).

Use tofu in dishes like tofu tikka masala, tofu bhurji (scrambled tofu), or tofu curry. Tofu absorbs flavours well and can replace paneer (cottage cheese) in many recipes, providing a protein-rich and calcium-packed alternative.

Nuts And Seeds

Nuts and seeds such as almonds, sesame seeds (til), and poppy seeds (khus khus) are rich sources of calcium and other essential nutrients. In Indian cuisine, nuts and seeds are often used as garnishes, added to desserts, or ground into pastes for curries. You can get a good amount of calcium from a handful of almonds. A quarter of a cup of roasted almonds contains around 114 milligrams of calcium. Brazil nuts and peanuts are good sources of calcium for your diet. WebMD suggests that nine Brazil nuts, or roughly 72 milligrams of calcium, make up a handful. About 85 milligrams are found in a cup of peanuts.

Include almonds in your diet by making almond milk, using ground almonds in gravies, or simply snacking on them. Sesame seeds are commonly used in dishes like til chikki (sesame brittle) and til ke laddoo (sesame seed balls), providing a tasty way to increase calcium intake.

Beans And Lentils

Beans and lentils such as chickpeas (chana), black lentils (urad dal), and green lentils (moong dal) are not only rich in protein but also provide calcium. These legumes are staple ingredients in Indian cuisine and are used in a variety of dishes, from curries to soups and snacks. According to WebMD, beans are nutritional powerhouses that boast calcium. A cup of canned white beans, for example, has more calcium (191 mg) than half a cup of milk (149 mg). For dried beans, soak them in water for a few hours, toss the water, and then cook the beans in fresh water.

Enjoy calcium-rich beans and lentils in dishes like chana masala (spicy chickpea curry), dal makhani (creamy lentil curry), or as snacks like roasted chickpeas. These dishes are not only nutritious but also satisfy the taste buds with their aromatic spices.

Fortified Foods

In recent years, many Indian brands have started fortifying foods like cereals, plant-based milks, and juices with calcium. These fortified foods are designed to provide additional calcium for those who may have dietary restrictions.

Look for fortified cereals, plant-based milks (like almond milk or soy milk), and juices that contain added calcium. Use these products as alternatives to dairy milk or incorporate them into smoothies, breakfast bowls, or as beverages.

Embrace the diversity of Indian ingredients and flavours to create wholesome meals that support your dietary needs and promote long-term health.