Calcium is one of the most common nutritional supplements used worldwide.
Calcium is a part of structural components of bone and teeth and even assists in cellular function.
Vitamin D assists in absorption of calcium.
The recommended daily calcium intake for an average adult is 1000-1500mg per day.
Dietary calcium and not supplemental calcium is associated with reduction in abdominal obesity.
Though low calcium and vitamin D levels have been associated with obesity, there is no definitive conclusion whether their intake will rectify the health issue.
A study was conducted wherein in obese individuals were given either cow’s milk, calcium fortified soy milk or calcium supplements along with energy restricted diet for 4 weeks.
Maximum weight loss was observed in milk group (4.4 kg approx) and maximum change in parameters was observed only in high dairy group.
Calcium in dairy products is highly bioavailable but you can also derive good dietary calcium by including a combination of calcium rich foods.
16 Calcium Rich Foods that Help in Weight Loss
Here is a list of 16 calcium rich foods that assist in weight loss and weight maintenance.
1 cup serving of milk, whether skimmed or whole, provides 285-306 mg of calcium.
A clinical trial published in The British Journal of Nutrition, 2011 demonstrated that milk supplementation with low calorie diet helps in controlling appetite and thereby reducing energy intake.
Low fat milk with added micronutrients is found to increase the weight loss outcome of low calorie diet.
What does this mean? 1 cup of milk taken daily provides you 25-35% of RDI calcium. Milk consumption helps in controlling appetite and also provides calcium and protein that aids in weight loss.
1 cup of natural yogurt provides you with 245-310mg calcium.
150g of Greek yogurt provides 100mg calcium or 10%RDI.
Low or non fat yogurt is even higher in calcium content- 49% of RDI.
A review of studies on yogurt consumption and its effect on weight management reveals that yogurt can lead to weight loss which is specifically evidenced by reduction in waist circumference or reduced belly fat.
Consumption of probiotic yogurt is found to be as good as consumption of low fat yogurt for weight loss. (Read Dairy products for weight loss)
What does this mean? 1 cup yogurt meets 30% of RDI calcium. Yogurt consumption can help you get rid of stubborn abdominal fat.
Hard cheese tend to provide more calcium. 1 ounce of Parmesan cheese provides 331mg calcium (33% RDI) , cheddar (19-25%), emmental (30%) etc.
In fact a 3 cm cube of hard cheese is said to provide as much calcium as 1 cup of milk.
Low fat cheeses are higher in calcium content. Non fat mozzarella provides 27% RDI, low fat swiss 27% RDI and fat free cheddar (25% RDI). 1 ounce feta cheese meets 14% RDI.
Supplementing a low calorie diet with probiotic cheese is found not only to lower BMI but also improve gut health and reduce BP levels in those suffering from metabolic syndrome.
What does this mean? A portion controlled addition of cheese to low calorie diet would provide you adequate amounts of calcium, protein and dietary fat and support healthy weight loss.
4. Canned fish
1 can of sardines in oil provide 351mg calcium (35%RDI) while 100g canned salmon meets 28% RDI and 100g anchovies meets 23% RDI.
Canned fish provide calcium by virtue of their edible bones. Inclusion of fish or fish oil to a weight loss diet is found to increase weight loss by 1 kg in 4 weeks then a diet without seafood.
Inclusion of 3 servings of 150g of fish in a week not only supports weight loss but also lowers inflammation.
What does this mean? Canned fish with edible bones can provide 25-35% RDI calcium. Also oily fish like salmon support weight loss.
5. Beans and lentils
1 cup of white beans meets 16% RDI, 1 cup of chickpeas meets 8% RDI and 1 cup red beans meet 5% RDI.
1 cup cooked lentils meets 4% RDI calcium. A study published in Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 2014 reveals that a high fibre bean rich diet is as good as a low carbohydrate diet for weight loss.
Adding fibre from beans to the diet increases satiety and reduces calorie intake by 18.5%. Consumption of pulses leads to modest weight loss even without calorie restriction.
What does this mean? For vegetarians beans and pulses offer decent amounts of calcium and they also provide fibre which is good for gut health and weight loss.
1 orange meets 5% of RDI calcium. Consumption of 1 whole orange can provide excellent dietary fibre, vitamin C and also help in controlling appetite if eaten prior to meals.
Fresh orange juice can serve as a great replacement to carbonated beverages and energy drinks. Orange can also replace sugar rich snacks and desserts.
What does this mean? Among all the fruits, orange provides a modest amount of calcium, 5% RDI.
7. Dried figs
1 ounce of dried figs provides 5% RDI calcium.
Dried figs are a good source of dietary fibre which supports weight loss. In fact 1 ounce of dried figs provides 11% of RDI fibre and 70 calories.
Figs due to their potassium content help in lowering blood pressure. They are also great for heart health.
What does this mean? 1 ounce serving of dried figs provides 5% RDI calcium. It is also rich source of dietary fibre and nutrients.
1 cup diced rhubarb provides 105 mg calcium which is 10% RDI. ½ cup slices of cooked okra provides 6% RDI.
1 cup shredded bok choy provides 158mg calcium which is 16% RDI. 1 cup chopped watercress as well as raw broccoli meets 4%RDI.
Other calcium rich vegetables (based on 1 cup serving) include cooked spinach (24%RDI), kale (9%RDI), collard greens (8% RDI), turnip greens (14%RDI).
Consumption of vegetables provides fibres, nutrients and greens, all of which support weight loss and help control appetite.
However some vegetables are rich in oxalates, which makes the calcium in them inaccessible to us. That is the case with spinach.
Some vegetables may have low total calcium content, but yet their calcium content may be way more bioavailable than high calcium veggies.
What does this mean? Vegetables like bok choy, rhubarb and okra provide 5-16% RDI calcium.
1 ounce almonds offers 74.5mg calcium or 7%RDI. 1 ounce hazel nuts offers 3% RDI and 1 ounce brazil nuts provide 4% RDI.
Mattes et.al suggest that nuts by virtue of their high satiety and reduced metabolizable energy aid in weight loss.
Including nuts in low calories diets increases adherence to diet and improves weight loss outcomes. (Read Nuts for weight loss)
What does this mean? Almonds, are the best among nuts in terms of calcium. They provide 7% RDI calcium in 1 ounce. Portion controlled inclusion of nuts can serve as healthy snack, provide good sources of healthy fats and increase weight loss outcomes.
1 ounce of sesame seeds provides as much as 28% RDI. 1 ounce of tahini offers 4% RDI calcium.
1 ounce serving chia seeds provides 18% RDI calcium.
1 ounce of poppy seeds provides 40% RDI (403mg calcium) which is more than calcium offered by 1 cup yogurt. 1 ounce flaxseeds provides 7% RDI calcium.
Chia seed gel can help controlling appetite due to high fibre content. Inclusion of flaxseed in diet improves health status in metabolic diseases.
What does this mean? Poppy seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds provide 5-40% calcium per ounce. They also provide essential nutrients which improve health status such as reduction in inflammation and improvement in antioxidant defense.
11. Soy beans
1 cup mature soy beans provide 241 mg calcium which is 24% RDI. 1 cup edamame provides 10% RDI calcium.
½ cup tofu offers as much as 43% RDI calcium. 1 cup soy milk (without added calcium) provides 6% RDI calcium.
Vegetarian diets including soy protein cause similar weight loss as meat based diets. Soy protein diet is as satiating as meat protein.
A study investigating the effect of various calcium sources on body weight shows that addition of calcium fortified soy milk to low calorie diet increases weight loss outcome close to that of inclusion of low fat milk.
What does this mean? Soy bean products such as tofu (43% RDI) and edamame (10% RDI) are rich source of calcium and protein, both of which aid in weight loss.
1 ounce serving of seaweeds provides 3-4% RDI calcium. Seaweed like wakame and spirulina are high in protein which helps in weight loss.
Seaweed fibre is found to control appetite and thereby reduce energy intake. Seaweeds have fat burning ingredients like fucoxanthin which also assist in weight loss. (Read Seaweed for weight loss)
What does this mean? Seaweed is a highly nutritious food item and provides 3-4% RDI calcium. It is also a good source of proteins, fibre and fat burning ingredients.
13. Whey protein
1 ounce scoop of whey protein isolate offers 20% RDI calcium. Whey protein is obtained from milk and is formulated as whey protein powder, whey concentrate and whey isolate.
Whey protein supplementation is found to promote satiety.
A study by researchers at Purdue University demonstrated that whey supplementation for 9 months resulted in 1.9% increase in lean mass and decreased fat mass by 2.6% in obese individuals.
A study published in The Journal of Nutrition,2011 shows that whey protein fares better than soy protein in reducing weight. (Read 4 reasons why whey is great for weight loss)
What does this mean? Whey protein provides 20% RDI calcium per ounce. It also helps burn fat and build muscle.
14. Herbs and spices
Calcium provides by spices based on 1 tsp serving include: ground cloves (1%RDI) , black pepper ( 1%RDI), oregano (2% RDI), dried basil leaves (1%RDI), ground cinnamon (3 % RDI), dried thyme leaves (2% RDI).
They are not a calcium rich food, but definitely a great way of adding some flavor and nutrition to your diet.
Apart from adding flavour to your food, herbs and spices improve food’s nutrient quality and also cause something known as dietary thermogenesis or energy spent to digest food.
They also have fat burning ingredients (Read 20 Awesome Spices for weight loss)
What does this mean? Herbs and spices provide modest amounts of calcium to your diet and their fat burning agents help in accelerating weight loss.
1 cup cooked amaranth meets 12% RDI calcium. 1 cup oats provides 84.3 mg calcium which is 8%RDI.
Whole grains provide dietary fibre as well as nutrition and thereby benefit in weight loss. Consumption of oats at breakfast is associated with reduction in abdominal fat.
10 Reasons Why Oats are good for weight loss
What does this mean? Among the grains oats and amaranth provide decent amounts of calcium and consumption of whole grains is associated with lower body weight.
16. Coconut water
1 cup coconut water 57.6mg which is 6% of RDI. Coconut water has a good blend of vitamins and minerals such that it can be considered for IV hydration to improve electrolyte balance.
Coconut water also benefits heart health, lowers blood pressure, lowers cholesterol etc.
Drinking coconut water alone won’t help in weight loss but if you use it to replace sweetened beverages or soda or energy drinks it will definitely cut down on the calories and also be a healthier alternative.
What does this mean? 1 cup coconut water offers 6% RDI calcium and replacing sugary beverages with coconut water helps in weight loss.
Increasing calcium intake alone may not help in weight loss but when combined with dairy protein it definitely translates to weight loss.
However you can acquire calcium from non dairy sources to it.
Calcium is an essential nutrient not only for weight loss but also to preserve bone health, dental health and even for something as small as cellular reactions.
Ensure you are getting your healthy dose of calcium.