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Are You Getting Enough Calcium on the Raw Vegan Diet?

Posted Jul 28 2009 12:07am

by Joanna Stevens
Many people still believe dairy to be one of the best sources of calcium available. While it is true that dairy products are somewhat calcium-rich, one should keep in mind that they are also rich in animal protein. Because animal protein has an acidifying effect on our organism, calcium has to be leached out of our bones to restore the optimal pH balance.

photo by gokoroko

photo by gokoroko

Even according to the National Dairy Council, “Individuals who consume a low-protein diet, such as some vegetarians, may require less calcium than omnivores or individuals who consume a higher protein diet.”

As a result, dairy products may provide our bodies with calcium, but they also take some away in the process. While the effect is small, t here are healthier and more efficient ways of getting enough calcium; many plant foods are alkalizing and filled with many nutrients besides being calcium-rich, low in saturated fat, and devoid of cholesterol.

A similar calcium-leaching process may also happen during pregnancy. The developing fetus needs calcium for proper development, and if the mother’s diet does not contain enough to meet its needs, it will end up being taken from her bones. Unlike other nutrients such as iron however, the calcium requirement does not increase during pregnancy. It is now estimated to be about 1,000 mg per day, but many studies have found this amount to be greatly exaggerated, especially for men. A diet rich in calcium-rich plant foods, coupled with weight bearing exercises, is likely to provide enough calcium easily.

Besides, ingesting enough calcium is only half the battle. There are many nutrients that help with its absorption, and are just as critical in a healthy person’s diet. Such nutrients include vitamin D, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.

photo by sateda

photo by sateda

Still, someone  looking for animal-free sources of protein may be a little lost at first, but within a short amount of time, finding high calcium sources will become as easy as recognizing other foods for being high in vitamin C, iron, or other nutrients. Some of the most calcium-rich plant foods include:

−    Sesame seeds (27%/ounce)
−    Chia seeds (18%/ounce)
−    Almonds (7% per ounce)
−    Leafy Greens (kale: 10%/cup, collards: 5%/cup)
−    Seaweed (kelp: 21%/cup; dulse: 6%/cup)

Tahini and Fruit Spread
My dad used to make me tahini and jam spreads all the time growing up. For a raw jam, blend fresh fruits with agave nectar until sweet and of a consistency similar to cooked jam.

Ingredients:
−    2 T tahini (sesame seed butter)
−    2 T raw jam

Directions:
Stir the tahini and jam together until they are somewhat mixed but you can still see streaks of each ingredients. Eat on raw crackers, sprouted bread, or with a spoon!

Cyanocorax

photo by Cyanocorax

Chia pudding
Chia puddings can be made in a variety of way.  Here are a few combination that have been proved to be popular by many:

Sesame chia pudding:
The combination of chia and sesame seeds makes this pudding extremely calcium-rich. This recipe is adapted from the one (http://www.tonyakay.com/phpbb3/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=1875) Tonya Kay was served while giving a talk on raw foods in Dallas. Chia pudding has since become one of her staple foods, and this particular version fulfills nearly 50% of our calcium requirement.

Ingredients:
−    ¼ cup sesame seeds, ground
−    1 cup water
−    2-4 T honey, more or less to taste
−    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
−    1 teaspoon cinnamon
−    3 T Chia Seeds

Directions:
Combine ground sesame seeds, water, sweetener, vanilla and cinnamon in a blender and blend well. Pour the contents of the blender into a strainer over a bowl. Add the chia seeds and stir. Put the mix in the fridge and take it out to stir every 10 minutes or so until the chia seeds have finished releasing their yummy gooey goodness. It shouldn’t take longer than 1/2 an hour to be fully ready to eat.

Generic Chia Pudding:
This pudding is a base that can be altered any way you want. Try adding cacao, goji berries, lucuma, spices, etc.

Ingredients:
−    4 T chia seeds
−    4 T ground coconut
−    1-2 cups water or nut milk, depending on how thick you like your pudding
−    Sweetener to taste, about 2 T, or soaked dates

Directions:
Blend the coconut, liquid and sweetener in a blender. Stir in the chia seeds by hand, and stir the mix twice every 10 minutes. Keep in the fridge.

photo by JWilsher

photo by JWilsher

Mixed Vegetable Salad with Sea Weed
This salad can be kept at room temperature for a while without a problem. I often make it if I have to eat outside the house and know I won’t have access to healthy food. This salad contains about 25% of our calcium requirement, and is also exceptionally high in iron (50% of the RDA), phosphorus (20%) and potassium (30%).

Ingredients:
−    ½ cup finely chopped kale
−    3 large lettuce leaves, shredded
−    1/2 a ripe avocado, cubed
−    1 small tomato, diced
−    3 small portobello mushrooms, sliced
−    1/3 cup dulse
−    2 T finely chopped kelp
−    1 T hemp seeds

Directions:
Mix everything together, and keep at room temperature for about an hour to let the seaweeds soften a little. You can mix in the dressing right away (before waiting), or just before eating. Mixing it later will ensure the lettuce stays crisp. You can add in anything else you like, such as carrot sticks, cubed cucumber, etc for added nutrients and variety.

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