Believe it or not, there are many great vegetable sources of calcium. These vegetables make great sources of calcium for vegans or anyone looking to get more calcium in their body. Calcium is an important mineral for all of us, but it’s especially essential that women get enough calcium in their diet.
Some vegetables contain calcium, but they also contain certain compounds that lower the availability of this calcium. This article will let you know which vegetables are high in calcium, and also contain this mineral in an available form that is ready for absorption by our body. This is often missed by other articles that feature certain vegetables, but don’t figure in the actual availability of the calcium inside of said vegetables.
In this article I’ll explain why each vegetable made the list and I’ll also list the amounts of calcium associated with each vegetable. Also explained will be why some vegetables high in calcium are not good available sources of this mineral. When you’re finished reading the article you might want to check out our calcium juice recipes. They use lots of the vegetables we list here.
To begin this conversation and before we can get to the the top 7 vegetable sources of calcium, we’ll need to understand what oxalic acid is and how it interferes with the absorption of calcium. So without further ado…
Oxalic acid: What it is and how it interferes with calcium
Oxalic acid is a compound found in many foods and is also present in vegetables and fruits. This chemical in smaller amounts does not pose much of a problem in regards to the absorption of calcium. It is when oxalic acid is found in moderate to high amounts that it can reasonably interfere with the absorption of calcium, and other minerals in our body.
The reason for this is that oxalic acid binds with calcium to form calcium oxalate, which is insoluble and not absorbed by the body. This is the reason why spinach, which is known to be high in this important mineral is not a good source of calcium for our bodies. Of the 99 milligrams of calcium present in spinach per 100 grams of the vegetable, it is reasoned that only %5 of this, if any may be absorbed by our bodies. This makes spinach along with quite a few other vegetables that contain calcium, a negligible source of this mineral. This bound up calcium either finds a home in the kidneys or is flushed from the body through urine. Either way the mineral is lost and is not available for absorption by the body.
There is debate about whether this binding contributes to the formation of kidney stones, as 80% of all kidney stones are made of calcium oxalate. Research has not quite determined if restriction of oxalic acid from food sources helps to prevent the formation of calcium oxalate stones. The reason for this is that only 10-15% of the oxalate found in the urine of individuals who form calcium oxalate stones have been accounted for as coming from dietary sources. Drinking enough fluids can help to flush calcium oxalate crystals from the kidneys, so it would logically follow that taking in oxalic acid in the form of a liquid such as a juice would help to make negligible the amount of it that might form.
For more information related to the amounts of oxalic acid in certain vegetables you can click here to be taken to a table at the bottom of this article detailing these.
Alright, let’s get to the vegetables! The reason these are such good sources of this mineral is that they are vegetables high in calcium, yet low in oxalic acid. This makes the calcium that is in them available for absorption by the human body. Oh, and juicing these will concentrate all of that wonderful calcium right into a nice glass.
The Top Vegetable Non Dairy Sources Of Calcium
Topping this list at #1 is the mighty turnip green! While the turnip root itself is the more commonly known part of this vegetable, it’s only one of the usable parts associated with turnips. The leaves of the plant, which are commonly called the turnip greens are chocked full of goodies including: vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B6 , folate, manganese, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, and of course CALCIUM!
Scientifically known as brassica rapa, belonging to the Cruciferae family, and a cousin to other vegetables such as kale, collards, cabbage, and broccoli, this vegetable contains a whopping 190 mg of calcium per 100g . One cup of chopped turnip greens weighs about 55 grams and will provide you with 104 mg of this precious mineral. The low amount of oxalic acid associated with turnip greens and the high amount of calcium available in them makes them an easy number one pick!
Coming in at the number two spot is arugula. This leafy green is a little less common and may not be a vegetable you are familiar with. If I’m wrong and you’ve tried arugula before, then great you’re ahead of the game already!
Arugula(Eruca sativa) has its origins in the Mediterranean region, is also commonly known as rocket, and is part of the brassicaceae family. Arugula has a rich, peppery, strong taste and is commonly used in salads.
I have seen arugula mentioned time and again as a good source of vitamin C. Arugula contains 15mg of vitamin C per every 100g. While it is a decent source of vitamin C, there are many other vegetables that are much better sources .
To give you an idea, the recommended daily dose of vitamin C for an adult is anywhere between 63mg’s and 75mg’s. It would take 25 cups of chopped arugula to achieve 75mg’s of vitamin C. While it is still a source of this vitamin, I would definitely not depend upon it as a primary source or even anything close to it.
With that being said, arugula like many other leafy greens is rich in many vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Some of these include vitamin A, Folate, vitamin K, Potassium, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, many B vitamins in moderate to smaller amounts, chlorophyll, many powerful phytonutrients, and last but not least CALCIUM!
One cup of chopped arugula weighs only around 20 grams and contains 32 mg of calcium. Arugula is one of many vegetables high in calcium and low in oxalic acid. This makes it another great available source of this mineral. Arugula works great in salads and makes for a unique component in a juice recipe. If you decide to try arugula in a juice, I strongly recommend that you start out with a small amount of it! It’s got quite a flavor if you’re not accustomed to it.
This leafy green vegetable takes the third spot on this list. It really was a close toss up between kale and arugula, but due to the fact that kale has a bit less calcium per 100g of the vegetable, I went with kale as my third choice. The truth is while kale has a bit less calcium per 100g, it will probably be easier to eat or enjoy in a juice as it doesn’t have quite as powerful of a flavor as arugula.
Kale or borecole, as it is also known belongs to the cabbage family, yet differs as the leaves do not form a head. This member of the species brassica oleracea or cruciferous vegetable finds itself among other vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, savoy, and brussels sprouts.
Although kale is not as widely known as spinach is for its chlorophyll content, it is a good source of this element. You might want to read about the health benefits of chlorophyll, they are many! Kale like other members of the brassica oleracea family also contains sulforaphane and indole carbinole 3, which are both potent anti cancer chemicals.
Kale includes many vitamins, minerals as well as other nutrients. Among these kale is high in vitamin A beta carotene, lutein, zeaxathin, vitamin C, and vitamin K. Kale is also a moderate to low source of potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and is of course a great source of CALCIUM!
One cup of chopped kale weighs 67 grams and contains 90mg of calcium. Most of this calcium is available for absorption by our body as kale is low in oxalates.
Less commonly known as pak choi, this vegetable is related to the turnip and is scientifically named brassica rapa chinensis. This “chinese cabbage” is another one of quite a few vegetables high in calcium and also low in oxalic acid. This makes it another great vegetable to get your calcium from!
Bok choy like kale is a cruciferous vegetable, which all have potent anti cancer benefits. Also on its list of health benefits, bok choy is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K. It is a moderate source of folate and vitamin B6. Among its mineral content bok choy is a moderate to low source of magnesium, potassium, iron, and is of course a great source of CALCIUM!
One cup of shredded bok choy weighs about 70 grams and contains 74mg of calcium.
#5. Broccoli Raab Also known as broccoli rabe or Rapini, this lesser known green comes in as number 5. Although this vegetable has broccoli in its name, it is not related to broccoli, but is actually a descendant of wild herbs and more closely related to the turnip. Broccoli raab is a source of phytonutrients that fight cancer, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, as well as the minerals potassium, iron, magnesium, and of course we wouldn’t leave out CALCIUM!
One cup of chopped broccoli raab weighing 40 grams contains 43mg of calcium. This vegetable is also low in oxalic acid making it another great way of getting calcium into your diet!
Scientifically coined brassica juncea, this vegetable is more pungent in flavor than many other greens. The specific type of mustard green in the image to the right is the curly variety of this vegetable and has a horseradish like flavor. Other varieties are peppery in flavor and some are said to even be comparable to the heat of a jalapeno pepper.
Mustard greens are a good source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and are a moderate source of folate, manganese, and potassium. It is a lesser source of many other b vitamins as well as minerals. It is of course also a great source of our superstar mineral in question, CALCIUM!
One cup of chopped mustard greens weighing 56g contains 54mg of calcium. It’s also another vegetable that is low in oxalic acid making it an absorbable source of calcium.
I imagine you might never even have heard of okra. I used to have this as a kid occasionally, but breaded and cooked in the oven. This vegetable also known as lady’s finger or gumbo, is scientifically named Abelmoschus esculentus.
The health benefits of okra like many of the other vegetables on this list are many. Okra is not only loaded full of antioxidants, but it is also a source of vitamin C, folate, potassium, and of course is a good source of CALCIUM!
One cup of Okra weighing 100g contains 81mg of the mineral calcium. Okra is also lower in oxalic acid making it a great choice for getting more calcium into your diet.
Why adding juices to your diet may be a good idea.
Most people would not think of consuming an entire bunch of kale, a bunch of arugula, an entire head of bok choy, along with a load of turnip greens or broccoli raab all at once, needless to say even in one day!
This is where juicing becomes a valuable resource and a great way to get a good amount of calcium from your produce, as well as many other vitamins and minerals. In one juice you could combine all of the ingredients listed above and more!
With that being said leafy green vegetables can be very strong in flavor, especially to those who are newer to juicing. Coming up with creative ways to combine some of these vegetables into a palatable juice can be a challenge.
We’ve been juicing for years here and have found some very creative and delicious ways of drinking our vegetables. If you haven’t yet, we recommend you check out our calcium juice recipes! They will give you some ideas for getting started with juicing green vegetables with calcium.
Table showing the amount of oxalic acid associated with certain vegetables.
This table was originally published in Agriculture Handbook No. 8-11, Vegetables and Vegetable Products, 1984.
Vegetable Oxalic acid
Corn, sweet .01
Turnip green .05
Sweet potato .24
Beans, snap .36
Brussels sprouts .36
Beet leaves .61
Table showing the amount of calcium associated with the top vegetable sources of calcium.
Turnip Greens 1. 190mg of calcium per 100g
2. 104mg of calcium per 55g (1 cup chopped)
Arugula 1. 160mg of calcium per 100g
2. 32mg of calcium per 20g (1 cup chopped)
Kale 1. 135mg of calcium per 100g
2. 90mg of calcium per 67g (1 cup chopped)
Bok Choy 1. 105mg of calcium per 100mg
2. 74mg of calcium per 70g (1 cup shredded)
Broccoli Raab 1. 108mg of calcium per 100g
2. 43 mg of calcium per 40g (1 cup chopped)
Mustard Greens 1. 103mg of calcium per 100g
2. 58 mg of calcium per 56g (1 cup chopped)
Okra 1. 81mg of calcium per 100g
2. 81mg of calcium per 100g (cup)
- Goodland R., The Westernization of Diets – The Assessment of Impacts in Developing countries – with special reference to China, DRAFT, 2001
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Calcium
- National nutrient database for standard reference
- University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health: Urology; Oxalate
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