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Eating to Prevent Osteoporosis

Early, Continuous Prevention is Key

-- By Jennifer Putnam, Nutritionist

Good eating habits are directly related to the prevention of osteoporosis in both men and women. It is often thought that only women suffer from this disease, but this is not true. While women are more prone to develop osteoporosis, men also suffer from this preventable disease.

Osteoporosis causes bones to lose mass and density. As the bones become porous and brittle, the chance of fracture is greatly increased. To lessen the risk of osteoporosis, try to get at least 1,000 mg (adults ages 19-50) to 1,200 mg (adults over 51) of calcium each day. Use the SparkPeople nutrition tracker to analyze your average intake.

If you're not meeting your needs, include additional milk and dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, or pudding. Don’t forget foods made with milk such as cheese pizza, lasagna, and yogurt shakes. Other foods that are good sources of calcium include calcium-set tofu, canned salmon and sardines with the bones, calcium fortified juice, and broccoli. <pagebreak>

Calcium is what strengthens our bones and protects the internal organs. When there is a loss of calcium, we lose strength, and bones become brittle and break more easily. Some simple variations to improve your diet are as follows:

  • For breakfast, use milk instead of water with your cereal and oatmeal. Drink plenty of calcium-fortified orange juice.
  • For lunch, eat yogurt as your dessert, choose milk instead of soda and add cheese to your sandwich.
  • For dinner, prepare canned tomato soup and macaroni and cheese with milk. Have pudding made with milk or frozen yogurt for dessert.
Here is a list of examples of the proper foods you should integrate into your diet to help ward off osteoporosis and become healthier:
  • Whole grains – brown rice, oats, corn, barley, buckwheat, wheat, rye
  • Vegetables – broccoli, carrots, spinach, lettuce, onions, celery, string beans, artichoke, summer squash, endive, cucumbers, asparagus, peppers, parsley, sprouts, and tomatoes
  • Beans – split peas, lentils, kidney beans, navy beans, chickpeas, black beans, white beans, soy beans, and tofu
  • Nuts and seeds – sunflower, sesame or pumpkin seeds
  • Water – 8 glasses a day
Lastly, if you really don't like dairy products or they don't like you, then try some of these tips to increase the amount of calcium in your diet without upsetting your stomach:
  • Use milk in preparing hot chocolate, mashed potatoes, oatmeal, and soups.
  • Make a fruit smoothie using yogurt and frozen fruit for a light refreshing meal or snack.
  • Use nonfat plain yogurt to replace part or all of the sour cream, mayonnaise or cream cheese in recipes.
  • Use canned salmon, instead of tuna for sandwiches and casseroles.
  • Serve a stir-fry packed with calcium-rich foods like broccoli, bok choy and tofu.
  • Make a sandwich spread from calcium-fortified cottage cheese and chopped veggies.
  • Mix part-skim ricotta cheese with cinnamon and raisins to spread on bagels or English muffins.
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