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4 Best Foods for Your Bones (and the 4 Worst!)

4 Best Foods for Your Bones (and the 4 Worst!)

What are the best foods for bone health? What are the worst? The answers might surprise you!

If you’ve turned on the TV or opened a magazine lately, you’ve probably seen one of those Got Milk? ads touting three glasses a day for bone health. The dairy industry spends billions of dollars to convince us that their products are the end-all when it comes to bone health.

Sure, milk is high in calcium, but there are actually a number of nutrients that come into play when we’re talking bone health. I get into the details a little bit more here, but magnesium is actually just as important for your bones as calcium, and dairy products are not rich in this vital nutrient. Vitamin K is another piece of the bone health puzzle that’s missing from dairy products.

Related Reading: 25 Plant-Based Sources of Calcuim

Fortified milk products do have plenty of vitamin D, but you can also get your fill of this vitamin just by spending a few minutes a day outdoors without sunscreen. Boom! Sunshine vitamin? Check!

OK, so maybe dairy’s not at the top of the list when it comes to best foods for bone health, but where it does fall definitely surprised me. Check out the lists below of the best foods and the worst ones for your bones.

Best Foods for Bone Health

Best Foods for Your Bones

1. Dark Leafy Greens

Dark and leafies, like kale and collard greens pack a one-two-three of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K. When it comes to strong and healthy bones, these are your #1 for sure. Need some leafy green inspiration? Check out these 10 kale recipes to get you started!

2. Seeds

Sprinkle some seeds onto your next salad for some bone-building power. If you want the most bang for your buck, opt for mineral-rich pumpkin seeds.

3. Nuts

Snack on a handful of nuts to protect your bones. You can add them to soups or salads, use them to top casseroles, or even puree them to make creamy vegan desserts (no, really!). Want the most bone-protection power? Walnuts are your friend.

4. Beans

Beans aren’t just a cheap way to round out a meal. They’re also packed with nutrients to keep your bones healthy! Black beans in particular are great for building bone health.

Worst Foods for Bone Health

Worst Foods for Bone Health

1. Dairy Products

I am as surprised as you are! I knew that dairy wasn’t the end all when it comes to bone health, but it turns out that dairy products may leach calcium from bones and increase your risk of fractures over time. What the what?

(See: You CAN Kick the Cheese Habit. Here’s How.)

2. Salt

If you’re trying to eat healthily, chances are that you’re already cutting out the table salt, and here’s one more reason to watch the white stuff: if may increase bone fragility. A Japanese study found that women who ate more salt were four times as likely to fracture a bone.

3. Cola

You may have heard that carbonated beverages or sodapop are bad for your bones, and I found some new research that uncovers what exactly is going on there. Scientists believe that it’s actually the phosphoric acid in cola specifically that depletes your bones.

4. Too Much Protein

Healthy eating is all about balance, and of course you need protein to stay healthy, but there’s some solid evidence that too much of the stuff can weaken your bones. What’s a little bit tricky about this research is that the group who ate less protein also ate a plant-based diet, so it’s unclear whether it’s the amount of protein or the type of protein that’s causing the damage.

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Read more: Conditions, Eating for Health, Food, Health, Osteoporosis, , , , , ,

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Becky Striepe

Becky Striepe is a freelance writer and vegan crafter living in Atlanta, Georgia. Her life’s mission is to make green crafting and vegan food accessible to everyone! Like this article? You can follow Becky on Twitter or find her on Facebook!


+ add your own
2:03AM PDT on Aug 13, 2014

I knew that about deadly dairy-- it's the worst for your bones. Strength exercise is an important habit to form when it comes to bones. Thanks for the helpful post.

4:22AM PDT on Aug 8, 2014

The wisdom to health

3:46PM PDT on Aug 4, 2014

Now that I know how to cook kale properly, I eat it more often; walnuts are just plain yummy- so glad they're good for me!

6:29PM PDT on Aug 3, 2014

Thank you :)

8:17AM PDT on Aug 2, 2014

woah. i thought dairy products strengthen your bones?? like milk and all..

7:17PM PDT on Jun 19, 2014

Great ! I knew about dairy that it leaches calcium out of the bones. Also, after a certain age in childhood boy has no need for " milk " therefore the ability to digest it also decreases, therefore any milk after that remains in the body and develops in mucous (which is where the excess goes).
Dark leafy greens (in raw form) are my best bet for regular calcium supply. Too much protein is also something that I knew.

That is why I follow the Yogic diet and way of life.

1:57AM PDT on Jun 18, 2014

the best - the worst - are we not all different ? - when you move yourself and have a joyful life you also find the right things to feed your stomach - and do not need to read such info - because who can measure the right amount of each suggestion ? - this article looks like a sublime vegan promotion.

9:23PM PDT on Jun 17, 2014

thank you

10:46AM PDT on Jun 16, 2014

thanks :D

6:38PM PDT on Jun 15, 2014

In my younger days, I drank way too much Diet coke, and not only did it NOT help with weight control, but it did effect my bones. Now I make sure the get all of the items in this list, and am doing much better. Plenty of weight-bearing exercise also helps.

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