Strengthen Your Bones With This Unexpected Canned Food

Dairy has not been your friend lately, but you know getting the recommended amount of calcium is essential. In fact, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends you get at least 1,000 milligrams a day. It can go up to as much as 1,300 milligrams per day for teens. Older adults need more too. For women 51–70 years of age, the recommendation goes up to 1,200 milligrams. Men and women over the age of 70 will need this amount, too.

So, why is getting enough calcium per day so important? It's needed for the structure of your bones and teeth. The NIH also notes that the circulatory system uses calcium for blood clotting as well as blood vessel contraction and dilation. It's also involved in muscle function, hormonal secretion, and nerve transmission. 

A long-term deficiency in calcium can lead to symptoms like muscle aches and cramps, scaly skin, brittle nails, coarse hair, depression, memory loss, delirium, and hallucinations (per Merck Manual). It can also lead to osteoporosis, which is the loss of mineral density in the bones. In the long run, osteoporosis can lead to fractures, pain, and posture problems, states Medical News Today.

So, you're probably wondering how to meet the recommendations for calcium intake when dairy leaves you more than a little gassy. Calcium is not just something you want to skip out on so what can you do? Adding alternative sources of calcium like canned beans and lentils to your life can help you meet your calcium requirements while skipping the dairy bloat.

Get calcium from canned beans and lentils

Cracking open a can doesn't typically make you think of calcium for your bones, but surprisingly, beans and lentils can have a good amount of it. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), winged beans have 244 milligrams of calcium in a cup. White beans also have an impressive amount coming in at 161 milligrams per cup (per USDA). Whipping up a tasty chili with them can get you pretty far into meeting your daily requirements.

Not to be left behind by their bean cousins, lentils provide a boost in the calcium department. While it's less impressive, lentils can give you 37 milligrams of calcium per cup. They are also easy to slip into different meals. For example, substitute some beef with lentils when making your tacos. You can also try throwing them into your pasta sauce on spaghetti night. Given their consistency, they can easily blend in with ground beef.

Canned beans and lentils can get you far when meeting your daily calcium goals, but they're also an excellent addition to a healthy diet. According to My Plate, they are an ideal plant protein and full of folate, potassium, zinc, and iron. A 2017 study in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences states that beans and lentils are a great source of polyphenol, which plays a role in preventing degenerative diseases. The research also showed that they can have anti-diabetic and anti-carcinogenic properties. Your body will thank you for adding a can of beans to your meal tonight!