Best Plant-Based Foods for Healthy Bones

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Bone diseases like osteoporosis and arthritis can creep up on you over time without you realising it.

Your bones might not be as strong as you think; in fact, if you’re not eating certain foods regularly, you could be putting yourself at risk for bone issues and diseases down the line. 

A national survey shows that many people consume even less than half of the recommended nutrients to build and maintain healthy bones. 

Osteoporosis is more common than you’d think, and it’s a degenerative disease that makes bones fragile and more likely to break. 

If not prevented or if left untreated, osteoporosis can develop painlessly until a bone like the hip, spine or wrist breaks suddenly. 

The older you are, the greater your risk of osteoporosis. Your bones naturally become less dense and less strong as you age. In order to prevent this, it’s important to get plenty of vitamins and minerals from the best plant-based foods for healthy bones.

Yes, that's right...the best forms of calcium don't come in the shape of dairy products!

Keep reading to find out the ten best plant-based foods for healthy bones. You might just be surprised at what foods make the list, but they’ll help you prevent bone issues and diseases as you get older.

1. Celery

It's no accident that Celery looks just like the structure of your bones - in fact, other stalky foods like rhubarb do so as well.

Celery is the number one food for healthy bones because it contains 21% phytalitic or plant sodium - the same amount that your bones store and need to thrive.

Sodium ionises into calcium in the body, which is sodium is a building block of strong, healthy bones.

With a crunchy texture and distinctive flavour, celery can be enjoyed raw in salads, or dipped in with nut butter, cashew cheese, hummus, or simply on its own as a crunchy snack.

Celery should also be a staple when cooking stews, soups and sauces with garlic and onions.

2. Bananas 

Bananas are one of the best plant-based foods for healthy bones and for your health overall. 

Each banana is full of potassium, folate and vitamin B6 for your heart and bones. Thanks to their high potassium content, your body is better able to absorb calcium.

Calcium needs potassium. If you don’t have enough potassium, calcium won’t be properly absorbed by your body and flushed out. 

You can eat all the calcium in the world but still have bone issues if you’re not getting enough potassium. 

In fact, researchers have found that elderly men and women who get lots of potassium have higher bone mineral density, which is a measure of bone strength, and they’re less likely to develop osteoporosis. 

3. Beets

Beets are loaded with potassium, magnesium, beta-carotene and folate, one of the B-vitamins. These nutrients can help keep your heart healthy and your bones strong and even prevent cancer.

If you are concerned about osteoporosis, eating beets will help. The red roots are rich in three nutrients: potassium, magnesium and beta-carotene. All three help keep your bones strong and healthy. 

Learn more in 5 Incredible Health Benefits of Beets.

4. Bok Choy

Bok choy makes the list, and it isn’t just because the white stalks resemble strong bones.

Bok choy is high in calcium, folic acid, vitamin A, vitamin C and tons of minerals. It’s nutritional contents are very similar to that of cabbage. Bok choy is a vegetable that resembles celery although it is actually a member of the cabbage family. It has thick, white stalks and dark green leaves that have a round shape, and this vegetable is great for building strong, healthy bones. 

5. Cauliflower

Cauliflower might surprise you, but it’s one of the best plant-based foods for healthy bones because it’s loaded with vitamin C, folate, vitamin K and fibre; all nutrients that can protect you from osteoporosis, bruises and heart disease. If you’re not a fan of the taste, try blending frozen cauliflower pieces into your smoothie instead of using ice or use a food processor to make cauliflower rice. 

6. Coconut

In traditional medicine around the world, coconut is actually used to treat a wide variety of health problems and for good reason. It’s included in one of the best plant-based foods for healthy bones because it helps your body absorb calcium and magnesium and it supports the development of strong bones and teeth. Plus, it’s delicious and easy to include in almost any dish, savoury or sweet.

7. Figs

Figs are of the most nutritious, edible fruits out there, and they’re also super healthy for developing strong bones. A half-cup of figs has as much calcium as a half-cup of milk, which shows that you can easily follow a plant-based diet and get more than enough calcium!

Learn more in How to Maintain Strong, Healthy Bones & Understanding Calcium. 

8. Parsley

A few sprigs of parsley keep your bones strong and healthy. In fact, a new study found that getting at least 100 micrograms of vitamin K a day can cut down your risk of hip fracture. Vitamin K is necessary for bones to get the minerals they need to form properly. 

Since parsley is loaded with vitamin K (over 180 micrograms in just a half-cup), you can’t go wrong with throwing a little parsley in everything. You can use it on sandwiches, dress up your salad with it, or best of all, add it into stews and sauces because cooking parsley actually nearly doubles its vitamin K content. 

9. Pineapples

Give your body 73 percent of the manganese it needs for the day simply by eating a cup of fresh pineapple chunks. Manganese, a trace mineral, is needed for your body to build bone and connective tissues. For people with mild to moderate osteoarthritis of the knee, a recent study found that a combination of glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and manganese resulted in significant improvement.

10. Prunes

Prunes are also a good source of potassium which is important for a healthy heart and strong bones. Potassium can counteract the increased urinary calcium loss caused by the high-salt diets typical of most Americans, helping to prevent bones from thinning out at a fast rate.

Learn more in Foods to Prevent Osteoporosis & How to Get More in Your Diet. 

More of the Best Plant-Based Foods for Healthy Bones:

  • Almonds 
  • Kale
  • Mustard greens
  • Oats
  • Sesame seeds
  • Citrus fruits
  • Tofu
  • Asparagus
  • Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Spinach
  • Chickpeas
  • Apricots
  • Whole wheat bread and grains

Magnesium, in addition to calcium and potassium, also plays an important role in the formation of bones. Make sure to eat foods high in magnesium like apples, garlic, legumes, peas, seeds, whole grains, peaches, avocados, blueberries, cantaloupe, and more. 

Tip: try the Cornucopia Epicurean Snack for a bone-healthy blend of nuts, seeds, corn, spices, and sea salt. 

What to Avoid:

  • Carbonated drinks acidify the body and leach calcium out of our bones, so stick to water and fresh juices.
  • Avoid smoking: it can actually delay the healing of bones up to five months longer for serious fractures and less for minor breaks. 
  • Certain types of medication can cause bone loss, so do your best to avoid medication by eating well and exercising. 

Help your body get the nutrients they need to build and maintain strong and healthy bones throughout your life by eating a wide variety of plant-based foods.

We’ve been conditioned to think we need cow milk for calcium, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Remember, that sodium from plants and pure, nature-made salt, is the key to strong, healthy bones and avoiding a host of bone and joint related diseases.

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