Not a fan of dairy? Here are other foods to include in your diet to keep bones healthier.

bone health strong womanWhen it comes to keeping your bones strong and healthy, your diet plays a big role. You may already know that foods like milk, cheese and yogurt are good for your bones, since they are full of calcium and vitamin D. But if dairy isn't your thing or you're trying to limit the amount you eat, you may not realize that there are plenty of other foods that also contain important bone-building nutrients.

Here are 9 non-dairy foods that can help you build healthier bones:

  1. Canned salmon – What makes canned salmon such a bone-building powerhouse is that it contains tiny soft bones you eat along with the fish. Eating fresh or frozen salmon, although healthy in other ways, does not provide the same bone-strengthening benefits. A 3 ounce serving of canned salmon has about 180 mg calcium, while a similar serving of fresh salmon only has about 36 mg. Canned sardines are also high in calcium. Not sure what to do with canned salmon? You can't go wrong with this healthy salmon cake recipe.
  2. Soy products – Soy foods, such as tofu and edamame, are typically high in calcium. For example, tofu may have over 400 mg of calcium per 4-ounce serving. If the product is calcium-enriched, it may even have twice as much calcium.
  3. White beans – Not only are beans a great source of protein and fiber, but white beans such as cannellini, navy and great northern beans also contain a respectable amount of calcium. Each cup of beans clocks in at about 190 mg calcium.
  4. Plant milks – Whether made from almonds, oats, rice or soy, many plant milk products are often fortified with calcium, providing a similar amount of calcium as an equal serving of dairy milk. Check labels and look for milk containing about 350 to 400 mg per 8 ounces.
  5. Nuts – One of the highest sources of non-dairy calcium, nuts can be a tasty way to keep your bones strong. Almonds have the highest amount of any nut, with a half-cup sporting 190 mg of calcium. Almond butter also packs a calcium punch.
  6. Prunes – Some people eat these because they aid in digestion and help them stay regular. But a 2022 study showed that post-menopausal women who ate 5 to 6 prunes a day maintained better bone mineral density in their hips. This may be due to the ability of prunes to lower inflammatory chemicals in the body that contribute to bone breakdown.
  7. Dried figs – If you're not a fan of prunes, you may prefer this tastier alternative. Two figs contain about 65 mg of calcium.
  8. Green leafy vegetables – Another natural source of calcium is dark green leafy vegetables, like broccoli, collards, Swiss chard, kale and cabbage.
  9. Chia seeds – One ounce (2 TBS) of these powerhouse seeds have 180mg of calcium, along with healthy fat and fiber. Not only do they keep bones stronger, but they also help control blood sugar and cholesterol.

In addition to the foods you eat, weight-bearing exercises like walking or running, as well as strength-training exercises, help keep bones stronger as you age.

Copyright 2024 © Baldwin Publishing, Inc.  Health eCooks® is a registered trademark of Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Cook eKitchen™ is a designated trademark of Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein without the express approval of Baldwin Publishing, Inc. is strictly prohibited.

Date Last Reviewed: March 13, 2024

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Jane Schwartz, RDN, CLT

Learn more about Baldwin Publishing Inc. editorial policyprivacy policy, ADA compliance and sponsorship policy.

No information provided by Baldwin Publishing, Inc. in any article is a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical condition. Baldwin Publishing, Inc. strongly suggests that you use this information in consultation with your doctor or other health professional. Use or viewing of any Baldwin Publishing, Inc. article signifies your understanding and agreement to the disclaimer and acceptance of these terms of use.