Milk – it is the only food group that revolves around just one ingredient. Why does this particular food item hold so much influence? One of the reasons is because it contains good amounts of a VERY important mineral – the most abundant mineral in our bodies: Calcium. Calcium is needed for our bone formation and development, but it is also important in muscle contraction, blood clotting, nerve impulses, and a bunch of other important things needed for a healthy body.
Milk is also one of the top 8 allergens, and a significant portion of our population cannot consume milk nor milk products.
Are they doomed? Will they forever have brittle bones, and be more likely to have broken bones?
Not necessarily. Foods, and not supplements, are still the best source of calcium. And calcium is available in a variety of foods. Canned sardines, almonds, and sesame seeds are good sources of calcium. Try some sardines on crackers! Hummus contains sesame seed paste (tahini), so not only is it a protein packed party dip, it is also a good source of calcium! Black Strap molasses can be added to hot oatmeal. Dark green vegetables are also a good source, so using broccoli, spinach, and bok choi to stir fry will also increase your calcium intake. Fortified orange juice is also an option for those that don’t (or can’t) drink milk.
If you or your child is avoiding milk due to taste preferences, just try it a different way. There are plenty of flavored additions that can be added to milk that also add in some vitamins and minerals. (Options like Carnation Instant Breakfast, and Green SuperFood, among many others). Use products that add in some additional nutrients instead of your regular cocoa, and use it as a treat at the end of the day. Make a smoothie! Frozen fruit, like bananas or mangos, blended with milk and a little vanilla can make a great treat as well.
Lastly, if calcium intake is a big concern, make sure you and your child limit the amount of soft drinks. There is a strong link between soda consumption and osteoporosis – whether that is because people drink sodas INSTEAD of healthier alternatives, or because of the phosphoric acid in many colas and soft drinks, it’s hard to tell. Caffeine can also interfere with calcium absorption.
What else can you do to make sure you make and keep healthy bones for a lifetime? Resistance exercise and weight-bearing exercise! Walk, run, jump – and do a few push-ups! It’s good for your skeleton.
4 Cups Frozen Mango (cubed, Slightly thawed)
1 Banana (cut into chunks - the more ripe, the sweeter)
1 Cup milk (or more for desired consistency)
½ Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Start from lowest setting and blend.
If blender fruit gets stuck, stop blender and add a little more milk.
Adding a little canned pineapple can add sweetness to the smoothie!
The less liquid you use, the thicker it will be.