Photo courtesy of Greg Panas.

Photo courtesy of Greg Panas.

Paddle Healthy | 10 Calcium-Packed Foods

Words by Rebecca Parsons

Calcium is an essential nutrient for athletes. In order to charge in the surf or dominate on the flatwater, paddlers need a hefty supply of calcium to keep our bones strong and muscles from cramping. While milk is an ideal source, those of us who are lactose intolerant or simply don't like milk need to find something else. Luckily, there are plenty of alternative sources of calcium out there. Check out these ten everyday foods that will keep your bones strong and your muscles in check. –RP

Almonds. Almonds are the perfect pre- or post-paddling snack. They're loaded with calcium, potassium, vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorous and iron. So spread some almond butter on your toast or grab a handful to go.

Oranges. Juicy, sweet and delicious, oranges are a perfect source of both calcium and vitamin C. In addition, oranges lower cholesterol and boost heart health. So start your morning off with a glass of fresh-squeezed OJ or stick an orange in your pack for your next downwinder.

Kale. A member of the cabbage family, kale is high in antioxidants, vitamin K, vitamin C, and of course, calcium. This superfood is one of the most nutritionally dense foods in the world. In addition to providing your body with essential nutrients, kale also contains cancer-fighting substances. So end the day with a kale salad or toss a handful of these leafy greens into your morning smoothie. Your body will thank you.

Dried Figs. Delicious on their own or in the center of a Fig Newton bar, figs are a good source of fiber, calcium and antioxidants. And if you battle anemia, figs are loaded with iron as well. So go home and munch on some figs.

Bok Choy. This Chinese cabbage has an extremely low calorie count and is loaded with vitamins and minerals. Vitamins A, C, and K, as well as magnesium and phosphorous are all included in this leafy green package. Add it to your soup or throw some in your stir-fry for a nutritious add-on.

White Beans. These legumes are a great source of calcium, iron and protein. Try making some baked beans or homemade hummus for a fun way to incorporate these beans into your diet.

Sardines. A member of the Clupeidae family, sardines are one of the healthiest fish around. They are loaded with calcium, protein, omega 3's and vitamin D. So on your next supermarket run, pick up a few cans to keep in your cupboard.

Oatmeal: Oatmeal is the ideal breakfast to have before your dawn patrol session. It's quick, it's filling and it's a great source of calcium and fiber. Add some fresh fruit for a flavor boost.

Firm Tofu. If you're not in the mood for meat, try using tofu as a protein substitute. Tofu is made of soybeans and as a result, is chalk full of vitamins and minerals, including calcium. Try making a nice tofu scramble in the morning or barbecued tofu for dinner.

Seaweed. As an avid paddler, you're already part fish, so why not try eating like one? In addition to containing calcium, seaweed is an excellent source of iodine which is important for thyroid health. Bring some dried seaweed to work as a snack, pick up some sushi on your way home or make some homemade miso soup to get your seaweed fix.


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