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Dairy-Free Dental Health

Calcium-rich dairy-free foods for healthy teeth.

We know you’ve heard that drinking milk and eating other dairy products are good for your teeth. Dairy is rich in calcium, which supports tooth health. But what if you can’t eat dairy? Many people have dietary restrictions that prohibit dairy use. If that’s you, don’t worry; there are still foods you can choose to promote a healthy smile!

Why Calcium is Important

Calcium is extremely important for strong and healthy teeth. It is a mineral that is a building block of tooth enamel. Calcium is what makes teeth hard so they can chew effectively. Also, a diet rich in calcium fights against demineralization that results from the acids produced by oral bacteria, which can cause tooth decay and cavities.

What if You’re Dairy Free?

Dentists and other experts often recommend adding milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy into your diet to help you get sufficient calcium. But what if you are vegan, lactose intolerant, or allergic to dairy? Here are some other options that can help up your calcium intake.

Leafy Greens

Surprise! Leafy green veggies can be an excellent source of calcium. Kale, arugula, collard greens, broccoli rabe, mustard greens, bok choy, and spinach are all great choices. Kale, arugula, spinach, and mustard greens can be eaten raw in a salad. Saute any of these with garlic and olive oil for a healthy side.

Tofu

Believe it or not, fortified tofu contains as much calcium as milk. Tofu can be a versatile addition to any diet, whether or not you are dairy-free.

Beans and Lentils

Beans and lentils can be a source of calcium. At the top of the list? Black-eyed peas. Boiled and drained, black-eyed peas offer a good amount of calcium. Other options include cannellini beans, red kidney beans, pinto beans, and  red or brown lentils.

Broccoli and Cauliflower

These popular veggies also pack a calcium-filled punch. They can be eaten raw with dairy-free dip or cooked. Try them sauteed, roasted, or air-fried. Cook them with healthy fats and a variety of seasonings to mix things up. You can also get creative by putting one of these options in a food processor to make “rice” or with recipes like cauliflower mash. 

Nuts

Almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, and walnuts are great little calcium sources. Nuts are a convenient on-the-go snack option, and a bowl of mixed nuts is always a crowd-pleaser. Just make sure to avoid candied nuts, as these are packed with sugar.

Almond Milk

Like whole almonds, almond milk can help replace cow’s milk as a calcium source. In addition to the natural calcium found in almonds, many brands of almond milk are fortified to increase their calcium content.

Canned Fish and Shellfish

Looking for calcium plus protein and healthy fats? Canned fish can be an easy, inexpensive way to get all three. Canned salmon, anchovies, and sardines contain tiny, often imperceptible bones and are surprisingly rich in calcium. Shellfish, such as crab, clams, and scallops, also contain calcium and can be a delicious addition to a dairy-free diet.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are nutrient powerhouses, with not only calcium but potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and more. Enjoy them whole and baked, or cut them into fries, toss olive oil and sea salt, and bake for a crispy treat. Mashed sweet potatoes also make a great side any time of year!

Edamame

This fun veggie is a good addition to any diet. Steamed edamame can make a complimentary side dish, tasty appetizer, or healthy snack. Sprinkle with sea salt, dip in soy sauce, or enjoy plain for a guilt-free bite.

Butternut and Acorn Squash

These seasonal delights provide not only calcium but plenty of other nutrients like vitamin C. Squash can be prepared in a number of ways, including cubed and roasted or blended into a delicious soup.

Talk to Your Dentist About Your Diet

If you have a restricted diet of any kind, it is important to bring this up with your dentist at your regular dental visits. With this in mind, schedule your next check-up today. We will diligently check your teeth for signs you aren’t getting enough calcium or other nutrients, and we can help you navigate your dietary restrictions so you can keep your teeth strong and healthy!

 

 

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