What you can’t see can still hurt you, especially when it comes to bone mass. Most people don’t know they have low bone mass until they have a broken bone. Osteoporosis (a disease in which bones become brittle and weak) is estimated to affect 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men over the age of 50, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)†
While many foods and eating habits can accelerate bone loss, there are also plenty of foods you can eat to keep your bones strong and healthy. nutrients such as vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamin K are all essential to prevent bone aging.
Rather than trying to add these nutrients one at a time, here’s a list of five recipes to help prevent bone aging and support bone health at any age. Then, for more healthy recipe ideas, check out these 50 Best Easy (and Quick) Dinner Recipes.
A great way to start your day and replenish bone-supporting nutrients is with this pumpkin parfait. Each serving has a half cup of Greek yogurt, which adds a significant amount of calcium to this recipe.
Calcium is essential for bone building† Over 99% of the body’s calcium is found in bones, and without enough of it, your bones can’t repair themselves any faster than they break down.
This fall breakfast favorite is packed with other important nutrients to keep your bones young and strong. Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium, while pumpkin puree is packed with potassium and iron.
While iron is not typically considered a bone-building nutrient, studies have shown that maintaining adequate levels of iron is essential for strong bones. Too much or not enough iron can lead to both weak and brittle bones, according to an article in Medicines†
Each serving of this pumpkin parfait contains 15% of the Daily Value (DV) for iron from the pumpkin puree and pumpkin seed granola.
Get our recipe for Spicy Pumpkin Parfait.
When you’re craving a hearty breakfast (or lunch or dinner), these scrambled eggs are packed with flavor and nutrients to help keep your bones young.
Salmon and egg yolks are some of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D. One ounce of smoked salmon has 4.9 micrograms of vitamin D, or 24% of the DV, and two eggs provide an additional 5% of the DV.
Without enough vitamin D, your body cannot absorb the calcium you eat. While your body can make its own vitamin D from the sun, it may not be enough during the winter months or if you spend most of your time indoors or wear sunscreen.
The older you are, the harder it can be to get enough vitamin D. Low vitamin D levels can lead to secondary hyperparathyroidism, lower bone density and an increased risk of fractures, according to a review in bone research†
The higher risk of low vitamin D in older adults associated with less time outdoors, lower vitamin D synthesis in the skin from sunlight, and not eating enough vitamin D-rich foods.
Get our recipe for scrambled eggs with salmon, asparagus and goat cheese.
If you’re struggling to get leafy greens, like kale, into your diet, this salad is a great way to sneak them in. The leaves of baby kale are tender and delicate, much unlike mature kale, which can be chewy and intense in flavor.
Baby kale does more than taste great in this dish. It’s a good source of calcium and vitamin C, and just a cup of baby kale leaves have 270% of your RDI for vitamin K.
Low levels of vitamin K are associated with: low bone density and an increased risk of fractures. But be careful if you’re taking blood-thinning medications. Eating inconsistent amounts of vitamin K-containing foods can make blood thinners more or less effective than they need to be.
In addition to the nutrients in kale, this salad is a protein-packed powerhouse with walnuts, chicken, and cannellini beans. The 24 grams of protein from this salad will keep you full and satisfied and keep your bones strong.
While calcium often gets the most credit for bone strength, protein makes up 50% of you bone structure and is essential because your bones are constantly breaking down and rebuilding. By adding a protein source to every meal and snack, you can get enough for strong and healthy bones.
Get our recipe for Rotisserie Chicken, Kale and White Beans Salad.
If you need an extra boost for bone health, check out the #1 Best Supplement for Aging Bones.
If cooking salmon at home isn’t your thing, you can easily get your vitamin D fix from canned tuna. While most tuna salads are just a mix of tuna and mayonnaise, this recipe takes the bone-building power to the next level by adding beans and Greek yogurt.
Canned tuna is easy to find, budget-friendly, and nutrient-dense. One 3-ounce serving of canned tuna has 5.9 micrograms or 28% of the RDI for vitamin D.
This recipe makes it a bit lighter by using Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise. Less saturated fat is a benefit of using Greek yogurt, and your bones will thank you for the extra boost of calcium.
Garbanzo beans are a good source of protein and magnesium, which are essential for the activation of vitamin D (which in turn is needed for calcium absorption).
These three nutrients are needed to work together to promote strong and healthy bones as you age. If you miss one, your bones may be at higher risk for fractures. Fortunately, this easy meal has this trifecta of essential bone nutrients covered.
Get our recipe for Healthy Tuna Veggie Melts.
This bone-building meal is perfect if you’re following a vegan, dairy-free, or gluten-free diet. Between the Swiss chard, tofu and pumpkin, you can support your bone health no matter what diet you follow.
Squash squash is a good source of potassium, which helps neutralize acids in the body that can break down bone. In a 2017 study in Korean postmenopausal women, those with the highest potassium intake had 21% higher hip bone mineral density than the women who ate the least potassium.
Tofu, along with other soy products, is an excellent dairy-free source of calcium. Only half a cup of tofu has 861 milligrams of calcium or 66% of the RDI for adults.
To absorb as much calcium as possible from this dish, serve it alongside an ice-cold glass of vitamin D-fortified plant milk.
Get our Tofu and Butternut Squash Curry recipe.