DITCHING DAIRY? READ THIS FIRST!
If you’ve already swapped out cow’s milk for a non-dairy alternative (such as soy or almond milk in your morning latte), or you’re keen to make the switch soon, it’s important to be mindful of the many nutrients found in dairy which you’ll need to make sure you’re getting elsewhere.
As dairy products contribute at least one quarter to the average Australian woman’s daily intake of the following nutrients*, we’ve done the hard work for you and looked at where else you can find these nutrients, with an emphasis on plant foods, if you’re also avoiding meat, fish and eggs.
THE NUTRIENTS YOU NEED AND WHERE TO GET THEM
Important for healthy teeth and bones, as well as muscle, nerve and heart function, when most people think ‘calcium’, they usually think ‘dairy’. While dairy is a rich source of calcium, and usually contributes around one third of the calcium in the average Australian woman’s diet, it’s certainly not the only dietary source. Fortunately, there are many non-dairy sources of calcium, including:
- Non-dairy milks, such as almond and soy, which have been fortified with calcium. This means the manufacturer has added calcium to the milk, usually to make the calcium content equivalent to cow’s milk, which contains 300mg per cup. Brands such as Vitasoy and Sanitarium add calcium across their entire range of non-dairy milks, while others (such as Bonsoy) do not
- Firm tofu, made with calcium salts. Tofu is made by coagulating soy milk to make a curd, which is done using a mineral salt, which is either calcium-based or magnesium-based, so look on the ingredients list for the additive codes ‘E509’ or ‘E516’, or the words ‘calcium chloride’ or ‘calcium sulphate’, which will provide around 400mg calcium per 150g serve of tofu
- 90g tin of sardines or pink salmon. Both of these fish have soft, edible bones, which are a great source of calcium. Just one small tin (90g) will provide around 300mg calcium
- Asian greens, including bok choy, chinese cabbage and pak choy. These leafy greens provide around 150mg per cup of cooked vegetables
- Tempeh, a fermented whole soy product, which is a great alternative to meat. Just 100g provides 100mg of calcium
- 1 tbsp chia seeds. These nutritious little seeds pack a nutrient punch, and provide around 100mg per tablespoon
- Vegetables, including kale, broccoli and green cabbage. These nutritious greens provide between 50-100mg calcium per cup, cooked
- Navel oranges. Just 1 orange provides 50mg of calcium
- Dried figs. Perfect for snacking on, dried figs contain around 50mg per fig
- Almonds. A small handful (20g) of almonds provides around 50mg of calcium
Iodine is important for the production of thyroid hormones, brain function, energy metabolism, and skin health. Good sources of iodine include:
- Seaweed, such as nori and dulse flakes
- Seafood, including tinned salmon
- Wheat bread, which is made using iodised salt
- Iodised salt
- A daily multivitamin, which usually contains 100% of the RDI for iodine (150mcg for adults)
Important for iron metabolism, releasing energy from food, and skin health, good sources include:
- Fortified cereals, such as Weet-Bix
- Nuts and seeds
- Nutritional yeast (often called savoury yeast), a bright-yellow condiment used by vegans to give meals a ‘cheese-y’, savoury flavour
So there you have it - everything you need to know to give dairy the flick without missing out on vital nutrients. Now, time for that calcium-fortified soy latte...
*Aged 19-30 years
- 2011/2012 Australian National Health Survey results, Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)
- Food Standards Australia and New Zealand: NUTTAB 2010 Online Searchable Database