While 99 percent of the calcium in your body is hard at work maintaining the strong, internal scaffolding that supports bones and teeth, the remaining 1 percent is a major player in keeping your cardiovascular system happy and your blood sugar control mechanism healthy. A growing stack of research proves that calcium helps lower blood pressure, keeps arteries flexible, and assists your kidneys in flushing blood pressure – boosting sodium out of your body.
Experts the world over now believe that the best bone-protecting equation begins with adequate calcium but doesn’t stop there. You also need vitamin D, magnesium, and potassium to help your body absorb and use calcium, and you need regular bone-protecting resistance moves to build or maintain bone density. Some experts say this may change the calcium equation. Some major health organizations recommend 1,200 milligrams a day but you may only need as much as 700 milligrams per day. This is something you and your doctor should decide.
Fat-Free milk, low-fat cheese and fat-free yogurt are some of the richest sources of calcium on the shelves of your local food store. Many people feel bloated and uncomfortable after eating dairy foods, because their bodies are missing the enzyme needed to digest the milk sugar lactose. If you’re lactose intolerant or just prefer not to consume much dairy, we’ve got loads of calcium-rich alternatives, from leafy green salads to nuts to fortified soy milk and orange juice and even yogurt.
Did you know that many people whose systems are intolerant of milk can have yogurt without any problems? Enzymes in yogurt convert milk sugars into a digestible form. As a food yogurt is a multitasking marvel. It works as a breakfast food, a frozen dessert, or a dip; you can also use it as a base for smoothie drinks and salad dressings and as a sauce for chicken or seafood. It’s packed with calcium and protein as well as magnesium, riboflavin, and vitamins B6 and B12 – plus beneficial “probiotic” bacteria that improve digestion and boost immunity.
Here are some great tips to add calcium rich Yogurt into your diet.
Buy one large container of plain yogurt at a time rather than lots of pre-flavored small ones.
Unfortunately store-bought strawberry yogurt is not just yogurt with strawberry slices in it. Instead, it’s yogurt with sweetener, more sweetener and a little bit of fruit. All those refined sweeteners double the calories of the yogurt without any extra nutrition. Instead buy plain unsweetened yogurt and use it creatively throughout the week in your cooking. If you want to flavor some with fruit for breakfast, add a teaspoon of your favorite jelly or jam and some slices of real fruit, then mix it together. It will be equally delicious but far less calorie heavy than the store-bought version.
Make a breakfast smoothie a few times a week
Blend 8 ounces of plain, low-fat or fat-free yogurt with a banana, a handful of fresh or frozen berries, a splash of orange juice, and a few ice cubes until smooth. An amazing breakfast in a glass! Once you master this basic approach you can start experimenting with other fruit juices and fresh fruits.
Serve raw fruits and vegetables with yogurt-based dips
Mix curry seasoning and honey into plain low-fat yogurt for a sweet spicy dip for carrots.
Or you can add chopped fresh basil and lemon to yogurt for a Mediterranean flavor that’s great with sliced cucumbers and zucchini.
Have a yogurt parfait at snack time or for dessert
Layer low-fat or fat-free yogurt, berries, mandarin oranges, and granola or chopped almonds in a pretty wine glass or dessert bowl. It makes a treat worthy of royalty!
So, however you serve it, yogurt is a great way to get the calcium that your body needs. Remember to stick to the Plain, Unsweetened yogurt and flavor it yourself. You will save yourself lots of empty calories that way.
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