By Angela C Torrence, RDH, ASU Nutrition Student
In more recent years, calcium has come up in the media as a mineral lacking in the Standard American Diet. With this emphasis placed on the necessity of calcium, I’ve noticed a sharp increase in calcium fortified products. Interestingly, calcium is one of the main minerals making up tooth enamel, and it is necessary to be present in saliva in order to help re-mineralize the enamel. In fact, the main components of enamel include: calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium.
Many people are aware that fluoridated toothpaste and water helps to strengthen enamel and prevent tooth decay, but fluoride isn’t the only hope for stronger teeth. Some toothpastes are including calcium and phosphorous in order to more closely resemble the natural tooth composition and minerals naturally found in saliva too. Well that seems to make sense! How else can we get those components in our saliva? May I suggest diet?
Yes! Cheese as a healthy snack has been a long accepted part of a tooth-friendly diet. The calcium presence, and saliva-stimulation are the main reasons for the recommendation; but, are milk and dairy products the only sources of calcium?
Dark leafy-greens contain some of the highest calcium levels in the vegetable world: collard greens, turnip greens, kale, spinach, and broccoli to name a few. Dislike the greens? Well, you can still get your calcium by way of garlic, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds (or tahini), oranges, soybeans, almonds, white beans, and dried figs; not to mention the fortified nut milks and orange juice on the market. One of my favorite calcium-abundant meals is the Indian Saag. Your choice of greens can be used (I often combine kale with spinach) pulsed in a food processor, and instead of the typical Indian cheese called paneer, I use cubes of tofu which has a very similar texture and mouth feel.
As taken from chow.com but altered to my preferences, I use a can of coconut milk to replace the cream and yogurt. Enjoy!