What are the best foods for bone health? What are the worst? The answers might surprise you!
If you turned on the TV or opened a magazine between 1994 and 1014, you likely saw the Got Milk? ads that touted three glasses a day for bone health. The dairy industry spends billions of dollars to convince us that their products are the end-all when it comes to bone health.
Sure, milk is high in calcium, but there are actually a number of nutrients that come into play when we’re talking bone health. I get into the details a little bit more here, but magnesium is actually just as important for your bones as calcium, and dairy products are not rich in this vital nutrient. Vitamin K is another piece of the bone health puzzle that’s missing from dairy products.
Fortified milk products do have plenty of vitamin D, but you can also get your fill of this vitamin just by spending a few minutes a day outdoors without sunscreen. Boom! Sunshine vitamin? Check!
OK, so maybe dairy’s not at the top of the list when it comes to best foods for bone health, but where it does fall definitely surprised me. Check out the lists below of the best foods and the worst ones for your bones.
BEST FOODS FOR BONE HEALTH
1. Dark Leafy Greens
Dark and leafies, like kale and collard greens pack a one-two-three of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K. When it comes to strong and healthy bones, these are your #1 for sure. Need some leafy green inspiration? Check out these 10 kale recipes to get you started!
Sprinkle some seeds onto your next salad for some bone-building power. If you want the most bang for your buck, opt for mineral-rich pumpkin seeds.
Snack on a handful of nuts to protect your bones. You can add them to soups or salads, use them to top casseroles, or even puree them to make creamy vegan desserts (no, really!). Want the most bone-protection power? Walnuts are your friend.
Beans aren’t just a cheap way to round out a meal. They’re also packed with nutrients to keep your bones healthy! Black beans in particular are great for building bone health.
WORST FOODS FOR BONE HEALTH
1. Dairy Products
I am as surprised as you are! I knew that dairy wasn’t the end all when it comes to bone health, but it turns out that dairy products may leach calcium from bones and increase your risk of fractures over time. What the what?
(See: You CAN Kick the Cheese Habit. Here’s How.)
If you’re trying to eat healthily, chances are that you’re already cutting out the table salt, and here’s one more reason to watch the white stuff: if may increase bone fragility. A Japanese study found that women who ate more salt were four times as likely to fracture a bone.
You may have heard that carbonated beverages or soda are bad for your bones, and I found some new research that uncovers what exactly is going on there. Scientists believe that it’s actually the phosphoric acid in cola specifically that depletes your bones.
4. Too Much Protein
Healthy eating is all about balance, and of course you need protein to stay healthy, but there’s some solid evidence that too much of the stuff can weaken your bones. What’s a little bit tricky about this research is that the group who ate less protein also ate a plant-based diet, so it’s unclear whether it’s the amount of protein or the type of protein that’s causing the damage.