Dairy for Calcium – is it a Must?

'Nut Milk' photo (c) 2011, Veganbaking.net - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

I haven’t drunk milk in years.

Even as a child I found dairy overdose left me nauseous and sick in the stomach (what an understatement that was).

As a result, this negligence in the dairy department has left me without a soft spot for the calcium rich beverage. And don’t get me started on cheese. I just find the whole thing far too pungent – much to the dismay of my French home stay family. Try explaining to a French family, in your entry level French that you found cheese…. unappetising. ‘Quelle horreaur!”

A few of my nutritionally savvy friends like to scare me with the horrors of osteoporosis. Where will I get my calcium from if I don’t drown myself in glasses of milk, cheese and low fat ice-cream?

If weak bones were a result of calcium deficiency, then why don’t Australians, who consume more dairy products than 80% of the world, have some of the strongest bones?

Indeed, Americans, who take more calcium supplements than any other country, also top the list for the most fractures and brittle bones.

Interestingly, in a study from Harvard Medical School, women who drunk two or more glasses of milk per day had a 45% higher risk of hip fractures than the women who drank less milk. And yes, while studies such as these are not a cause for conclusion, it does lead you to question whether the push to consume more than a glass of a milk a day is enforced by the ulterior motives of Australia’s agricultural department.

Ensuring your body is in a state of equilibrium is your answer for all over health, including strong bones.

Make certain you eat real food that doesn’t inflame your system and make sleep your priority.  

Bone health can be supported with an integrative approach – one that involves whole foods that are easily digested and a few simple practices each day.

  1. Get your rays – Vitamin D is vital for bone strength. Try to get 20 minutes of sun exposure daily.  Egg Yolks are also a good source of Vitamin D; so don’t chuck out the yolk!
  2. Green veggies with each meal! Breakfast doesn’t need to be a carb fest!
  3. Fishy fishy- the tinned stuff with all the bones is excellent for calcium. Essential fatty acids are great for bone strength too so consider supplementing with fish oil if you think your intake of fatty fish is slim to none. 😉
  4. Lift like a bro – that’s right, weights 3 times a week. Stop running on the treadmill (which is friggin boring anyway) and push your way through the macho fest at the gym. Lift heavy = strong bones = sexy body.
  5. Happy hormones – Get your bloods tested for estrogen levels. Low estrogen is an indicator for osteoporosis.
  6. Nuts so fast – with your handfuls of nuts, but don’t remove them! Nuts have great protein, fibre and fat content. A good all rounder snack. Plus they are high in minerals, particularly calcium and magnesium. Interestingly magnesium is necessary for your body to process calcium, so stop taking a calcium supplement if it has no magnesium in it!

After this rant and rave- I still like a good creamy beverage that packs a taste punch. Forgive me if I may appear blunt, but milk is pretty much null and void of taste. That is if you don’t pour it over a bowl of cocoa pops and watch the milk transform to a creamy brown. (A fond pastime of my former years…)

Which is why, if I want a smoothie, a bowl of buckwheat porridge or a glass of goodness to keep the ‘bed bugs from biting’ I like to make my own ‘mylks’.

Always. 😉

My favourite nut milk so far, was inspired by a recent conversation I had with an Indian/Malay friend of mine – as we reminisced about the wonders that is a Sri Lankan Love Cake (if you have never tried it – ask your Sri Lankan acquaintance to make one).

Sri Lankan Love Cake, although filled with many variations, is often infused with cashews, rosewater and cardamom with bucket loads of sugar. It is also usually gluten free!

Obviously this milk, comes sans the sugar but with lots and lots of LOVE 😉


Cashew Rosewater, Cardamom Milk

1.5 litres (6 cups) water

3 cups of unsalted cashews (try to get these from a supplier who has a high turnover, the stuff in the supermarkets are just rancid – until you try the taste difference, you won’t believe me)

2 tsp of liquid Stevia

2 cardamom pods, bashed

1 tsp of rosewater (less is more, don’t overdose!)

  1. Blend the first three ingredients in a good blender. Do this in batches and ensure it is smooth.
  2. Decant your milk into a large jug and add your cardamom.
  3. Let stand for 2 hours.
  4. Strain the mixture through a muslin cloth or nut milk bag. Stir in the rosewater and extract then serve.

NOTE: (With the cashew solids, discard the cardamom and use in baking to thicken batter. Experiment with making pancake batter or adding the same ratio of soaked buckwheat for creamy breakfast porridge – experiment, but don’t chuck it! SO wasteful!)


5 thoughts on “Dairy for Calcium – is it a Must?

  1. So timely! My (newly health conscious) boyf was just quizzing me about calcium yesterday, now he’s easing up on the dairy. I always find it decidedly hard to answer in a logical, sensical way. Thanks for the simplification + foodie tips!

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