Many people are quick to write off vegan diets as nutrient deficient and bad for the teeth. "Where are you going to get your calcium and vitamin D if you don't drink milk?" they ask. "Your teeth will fall out because you won't get enough calcium" is another common remark. Luckily, vegan diets don't have to be calcium or vitamin D deficient, as long as you include the right foods in your meal plans. Here's a look at several calcium and vitamin D-rich foods to make sure you're eating if you want your teeth to stay healthy on a vegan diet.
Calcium-rich Plant Foods
Keep in mind that you need calcium for healthy teeth regardless of your age, not just when you're young. Older adults who eat enough calcium are less likely to lose teeth. Good plant sources of calcium include the following:
Collard Greens: These tough greens are best enjoyed cooked. One cup of cooked collards contains 36% of your daily calcium needs. Kale and turnip greens are also high in calcium. Add them to your soups or smoothies for a great calcium boost.
Broccoli Rabe: This unique relative of broccoli is becoming easier to find in grocery stores. It is delicious when steamed or roasted. One cooked bunch contains a remarkable 52% of the daily value of calcium.
Okra: Unfortunately, okra is often served deep fried, which is far from the healthiest way to prepare it. A better option is to add it to soups, or to stir fry it lightly in some olive or canola oil. One cup of sliced okra contains 18% of your daily calcium requirements.
White Beans: Beans are common in many vegans' meal plans because they're a good source of protein and fiber. What you may not know is that white beans also contain 19% of your daily calcium needs in just 1 cup. Canned white beans are a great choice if you're in a hurry and don't want to boil beans for hours.
Blackstrap Molasses: What do you use to sweeten your baked goods? If you're not using blackstrap molasses, you should be. Just 1 tablespoon of this natural sweetener contains 17% of your calcium needs.
Vitamin D-Rich Plant Foods
Keep in mind that your body produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Thus, if you're spending plenty of time outside in the sun, you should not have to worry about how much vitamin D you're getting from your foods. However, if you live in a place where the winters are long and dreary, you should focus on including vitamin D-rich plant foods during these months. Good sources of vitamin D include the following:
Mushrooms: Portobello mushrooms are especially high in vitamin D. A single Portobello mushroom contains 63% of the daily value of this nutrient. Make a Portobello burger by grilling a mushroom and enjoying it on a soft roll, and you're well on your way towards meeting your vitamin D needs. Other mushrooms that are high in vitamin D include miatake, morel and oyster mushrooms.
Soy Yogurt: Most soy yogurt contains about 22% of the daily value of vitamin D in one cup. This is a good grab-and-go food choice for busy mornings. Soymilk is also high in vitamin D, as are almond and rice milk.
Tofu: You probably eat tofu because it is high in protein, but it's a great source of vitamin D, too. Firm tofu contains 21% of the daily value of vitamin D. Silken tofu has the same vitamin D content and is a great addition to smoothies and soups.
Clearly, you don't need to rely on animal products to meet your calcium and vitamin D needs. By including these foods in your meals, you can have healthy teeth and stick to your vegan diet. For more information on teeth health, contact a business such as Schererville Family Dentistry, PC.