08 July, 2011
Avocados & Calcium
Your body needs calcium to build, repair and maintain your bones and teeth, but the mineral also plays a vital role in muscle contraction, insulin production, triggering the activity of enzymes and allowing neurons to transmit electrical impulses. A diet lacking adequate calcium may increase your likelihood of hypertension, obesity, osteoporosis and kidney stones. While dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables and beans are the richest natural sources of calcium, some fruits, such as avocados, also contain the mineral.
A 1-cup serving of cubed fresh avocado contains 18 milligrams of calcium, reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Healthy adults between 19 and 50 years old and men between 51 and 70 should have 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day; 1 cup of avocado would supply only 1.8 percent of this requirement. Women over 51 years old and men over 70, both of whom need 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily, would receive 1.5 percent of their recommended daily allowance from 1 cup of avocado.
Comparison to Other Foods
Avocados contain about as much calcium in each serving as 3 ounces of cooked fish like cod or grouper, 3 ounces of lamb shoulder, 1/2 cup of canned asparagus and 1 cup of raw cherries or mangoes. It is a superior source of calcium compared to pork, beef, eggs, vegetables such as endive and potatoes, unenriched pasta, and fruits like pears and peaches, although avocados contain far less per serving than cheese, tofu prepared with calcium sulfate, almonds, yogurt and milk. A single cup of grated cheese such as Parmesan may contain as much as 1,109 milligrams of calcium.
Enhancing Calcium Absorption
In 2005, a study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" reported that consuming a type of dietary fiber known as inulin may increase the body's ability to absorb calcium from foods. Inulin is found in high concentrations in foods like asparagus, garlic, onions, artichokes, bananas and whole-wheat flour. In addition, getting adequate vitamin D can help you absorb calcium. To get the most calcium out of the avocados you eat, try pairing a whole-wheat avocado and low-fat cheese sandwich at lunch with a banana or serve a salad topped with avocado chunks as a side dish for grilled salmon.
While eating avocados isn't a good way for you to reach your daily calcium requirement, Columbia Health assures that avocados can be a healthy addition to a balanced diet. They are rich in the monounsaturated fats that may be linked to a decreased risk of high blood cholesterol and heart disease. The fiber that avocados provide may help prevent hypertension and diabetes, as well as certain types of cancer. Since avocados are high in calories and total fat, enjoy them in moderation to prevent weight gain.
- Linus Pauling Institute: Calcium
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Calcium
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Basic Report - 09037, Avocados, Raw, All Commercial Varieties
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nutrient Lists - Calcium, Ca (mg)
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: A Combination of Prebiotic Short- and Long-Chain Inulin-Type Fructans Enhances Calcium Absorption and Bone Mineralization in Young Adolescents
- Woman's Day: 7 Super-Powered Food Pairings
- Columbia Health: Avocados are Fatty - Are They Healthy?
- Nutrition Reviews: Health Benefits of Dietary Fiber
- Darkmatter07/iStock/Getty Images