As you age, your bones become more fragile and bone density decreases—which can put you at risk for developing muscle loss, osteoporosis, and fractures or injuries. Yet, you can increase bone density and keep your bones strong and well with the right foods.
What are these? Foods high in calcium, protein, and magnesium can build bone mass and muscle, so you’ll want to eat a variety of foods that contain these three powerful nutrients. And if you do think you’re more prone to risk of osteoporosis (it’s genetic!) or are on a diet where you aren’t eating these types of foods, you might want to supplement with your doctor’s approval.
Either way, the best method to build stronger bones is through diet, rather than supplementation. So, work these delicious and versatile foods into your meals and snacks.
Yogurt is rich in calcium and protein, so enjoying one for a snack or eating it for breakfast is a great way to increase daily intake. I suggest going for Greek or skyr yogurt, and an unsweetened or plain variety, to get the biggest bang for your buck. You’ll keep sugar and carbs low and get gut healthy probiotics, which can improve digestion and boost your immune system.
And if you want, you can add a bit of sweet flavor, along with more protein, by chopping up a dessert flavored protein bar in it. Think: Chocolate Hazelnut or Chocolate Peanut Butter. Or add in cookies crumbles—one with protein that is low in sugar and carbs.
Cheese is rich in calcium, which is the best nutrient for building stronger bones and increasing bone density as you age. So, enjoy a serving of cheese on whole grain crackers or dunk veggie sticks in a delicious cheese dip. A string cheese along with another high protein food, like a beef or turkey jerky stick or a handful of nuts, can also be a good snack for settling midday munchies.
Leafy Greens and Cruciferous Veggies
Greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard, are high in magnesium and calcium, as well as some protein too. So, include these in fresh salads for lunch, omelets for breakfast, protein bowls, and more. Plus, go for cruciferous veggies too, like broccoli and Brussels sprouts. These are also rich in calcium and protein, and they are so versatile. Roast the Brussels with a bit of honey or balsamic, or shred to make a fresh salad with Manchego cheese and almonds. For broccoli, add it to smoothies, blend for soups, use in eggs, add to stir-fry meals, or simply roast as a side dish with garlic.
Fresh and canned fish are packed with protein and calcium, and they are a great source if you are lactose intolerant or don’t tolerate dairy well. You can enjoy canned salmon, tuna or sardines over a bed of greens or in patties for burgers and fritter cakes. You can also stuff into bread for a delicious sandwich for lunch.
If you choose fresh fish, try a crusted topping for crunch and added calcium, protein and good fats. Seeds and nuts, like almonds, pistachios and flaxseed are also high in these nutrients to build stronger bones.