Not only does calcium maintain the health of bones and teeth, it also supports critical metabolic functions like muscle function, dilation and contraction of the vascular system of your body, nervous system function (transmission), cell signaling, and the secretion of hormones. Nearly all the body’s calcium is stored in the bones and teeth. The 1% involved in metabolic functions is found in the blood serum.
We all know a range of dairy products like milk and fortified foods like soy products and cereals have calcium. But what if you are on the lookout for fresh produce that contains calcium? Green leafy vegetables are a good source, of course. But if you have a bit of a sweet tooth, are there any calcium-rich fruits you could consider trying? The answer is a yes! While fruit sources may pale in comparison to other richer sources of calcium, there is definitely a lineup of calcium-rich fruits you can savor.
You Need 1000–1200 Mg of Calcium Every Day
Depending on your age and stage in life, your calcium needs may vary. Children and adolescents with growing bones and teeth see more bone formation, but as you approach later adulthood, bone breakdown is greater than formation.1 So, the amount of calcium you need depends on how old you are and even whether you are male or female. While the daily recommended intake for adults between 19–50 years in the United States is 1000 mg, women need to up that intake to 1200 mg once they cross 50. Men also need 1200 mg a day when they cross 70 years.2
When it comes to foods and food labeling, the updated FDA standards set the daily value or DV at 1300 mg for all adults, including pregnant and lactating women.3 This DV is the measure against which you will see the fruits in this list tracked. In general, a food is considered rich in a specific nutrient when it has a DV of 20% or more. An 8 ounce serving of low-fat yogurt, for instance, has 415 mg of calcium, which is 31.9% DV. 8 ounces of calcium-fortified soy milk contains 299 mg or meets 23% DV. Having a 3 ounce serving of sardines in oil with the bones delivers 325 mg or 25% DV. One cup of boiled turnip greens has 198 mg or 15.2% DV.4 With that context, here’s a look at fruit sources which are among the best in their category.
1 cup of cooked rhubarb: 348 mg of calcium (26.7% DV)
A cup of cooked rhubarb has a hefty 348 mg of calcium to the serving, which is 26.7% DV, making rhubarb very much a calcium-rich food.5 You could whip up a rhubarb pie or a gingery crumble and serve it with a dollop of cream or ice cream, depending on the weather. Or have stewed rhubarb or a rhubarb cake with some hot custard. Add it to little tarts or a fresh lemon rhubarb pudding. Once you try your hand at some unusual recipes, you’ll never get enough of this fruit that was once considered a vegetable!
2. Citrus Fruits Like Orange And Grapefruit
- 1 cup of kumquats: 93 mg (7.2% DV)
- 1 cup of tangerines: 72 mg of calcium (5.5% DV)
Enjoy your citrus? Then you’re going to like this next bit of information. Staple citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit and more exotic alternatives like kumquats are a great source of calcium. And the versatility of citrus fruits makes them even more compelling. Whether as a glaze for meats, a tangy addition to salads as a dressing, or as segments for a zingy bite in heavenly meringue pies and light-as-air cakes, these citrus fruits lend themselves to all kinds of recipes. And who can say no to a refreshing citrus drink! Here’s how each stacks up in calcium:
- 1 cup of tangerines: 72 mg (5.5% DV)6
- 1 cup of oranges: 72 mg (5.5% DV)7
- 1 cup of kumquats: 93 mg (7.2% DV)8
- 1 cup of grapefruit (pink/red): 51 mg (3.9% DV)9
It’s important to note that while lime and lemon are also great sources of calcium, comparable to some of the other citrus fruit, because they are so tart, you are unlikely to use more than a spoonful or two at a time, making the calcium intake much lower.
id="3">3. Prickly Pear
1 cup of prickly pears: 83 mg of calcium (6.4% DV)
Prickly pears are not on the top of most people’s grocery lists. But with 83 mg of calcium or 6.4% DV to the cup full, these pears should make a place for themselves, with a relatively higher amount of calcium than many other fruits.10 Besides sorbets and jellies, you could use the fruit in a bright salad of oranges and mint, lemon bars, and smoothies.
1 cup of kiwifruit: 61 mg of calcium (4.7% DV)
Kiwis are refreshing tart fruits that make a nice alternative to citrus fruits. The sour sweetness they offer can be simply addictive! Add the chopped fruit to a fruit salad or use it to top any cakes or puddings. One cup of raw green kiwifruit has 61 mg of calcium which is the equivalent of 4.7% DV of the nutrient.11
5. Berries Like Mulberries And Blackberries
- 1 cup of mulberries: 55 mg (4.2 % DV)
- 1 cup of blackberries: 42 mg (3.2% DV)
Add pops of color to your mealtimes with the range of delicious berries on offer in the market. And when it isn’t berry season, you can always turn to the frozen kind as a backup. They all contain calcium in varying amounts. And while they don’t hit the highs that a calcium-rich food needs to, they are still sources of calcium you could consider if you want to get a fruit in.
- 1 cup of mulberries: 55 mg (4.2 % DV)12
- 1 cup of blackberries: 42 mg (3.2% DV)13
- 1 cup of raspberries: 31 mg (2.4% DV)14
- 1 cup of strawberries: 24 mg (1.8% DV); 1 cup of puree: 37 mg (2.8% DV)15
- 1 cup of mashed papaya: 46 mg of calcium (3.5% DV)
- 1 cup of chopped papaya: 29 mg of calcium (2.2% DV)
A cup of the mashed fruit of papaya contains 46 mg of calcium while a cup of chopped papaya has 29 mg of the mineral. That puts your intake at 3.5% DV or 2.2% DV, depending on which you have.16 Papaya is a great addition to a smoothie or works even as a juice on its own. Alternatively, use it in salsa or a salad – it pairs brilliantly with avocado, too. You could even grill slices of the fruit for something different.
1 cup of guava: 30 mg of calcium (2.3% DV)
Have a penchant for the exotic? Guavas are vibrant fruits with a distinctive flavor and work a treat in jams and jellies as well as chutneys and juices. Or how about a lip-smacking glaze for roast chicken? A cup of the fruit has 30 mg of calcium. At 2.3% DV, this may not seem like a lot but it can certainly be an addition to your calcium intake for the day.17
1 cup of sliced, deseeded jackfruit: 40 mg of calcium (3.1% DV)
If you haven’t heard of jackfruit or never tried it, it isn’t surprising. Popular in tropical countries and island nations of the world, this strong smelling fruit is an acquired taste. Eat it as it is or use it in exotic Asian desserts, smoothies, or even in cake and you might just become a fan. Each cup of the sliced, deseeded fruit has 40 mg of calcium, giving you 3.1% DV of the nutrient.18
9. Custard Apple
100 gms of custard apple: 30 mg of calcium (2.3% DV)
A custard apple has 30 mg of calcium per 100 gm serving, which is around 2.3% DV. A cup full of the fruit will get you even more.19 Try making a homemade ice cream with the creamy flesh. Or whizz up a smoothie or milkshake with it. A delicious custard apple mousse can go down a treat too as can a cardamom-scented fragrant dessert called phirni with custard apple as an extra ingredient.
100 gms of dates: 64 mg of calcium (4.9% DV)
A 100 gm of dates, a luxurious fruit synonymous with the Middle East, gets you 64 mg of calcium or 4.9% DV.20 Use them paired with oats or bananas in smoothies and cakes and cookies. Or add them to salads with quinoa and kale to balance the slight bitterness of the kale leaves. Or if you like, go all out on your calcium intake with a kumquat tart made on an almond and date crust base. Dates can be calorific and high in sugar, though, so mind how much you have!
- 1 cup of fresh figs: 52.5 mg of calcium (4% DV)
- 1/2 cup of dried figs: 120.5 mg of calcium (9.2% DV)
Unless you’re on a low-sugar diet or have diabetes, dried fruit can be a fabulous and delicious way to raise your dietary calcium intake. As with nuts, which are good sources of calcium, dried fruit too can boost your intake effortlessly. To see just how little you need to make a difference, consider this – as little as two dried figs give you 92 mg of calcium. That’s 7.1% DV. Half a cup will get you 120.5 mg of calcium – that’s 9.2% DV.21 Fresh figs have around 35 mg in a 100 gm serving, which means you’ll have 52.5 mg in a cup full, which is 4% DV.22 Fresh and dried figs can both be used in salads for a hint of sweetness and the dried one can also add a chewy texture. They can liven up a cheese board or add oomph to homemade nut bars. You could even add dried figs to homemade bread or use them alongside savory dishes made with meats like pork.
Another dried fruit that stacks up high on the calcium stakes is prunes. These dried plums are a great calcium source with 37.5 mg (2.9% DV) of calcium in half a cup of prunes.23
1 cup of sliced apricots: 21 mg of calcium (1.6% DV)
A cup of sliced apricots contains 21 mg of calcium (1.6% DV).24 That’s a small amount, so if you want more, opt for the dried version of the fruit. Just be mindful of the sugar content. Half a cup of dried apricots has 36 mg of calcium (2.8% DV).25 Add apricots to a homemade trail mix, granola, or your morning oatmeal or cereal. Alternatively, use it in baking in cakes, scones, or heavenly sweet pies.
13. Fortified Fruit Juice
3/4 cup of fortified orange juice: 261 mg (20.1% DV)
If you are more of a juice drinker, you may want to consider getting your hands on a good low sugar/no sugar added variant of calcium-fortified juice. Orange is a popular choice for calcium enrichment – you’ll find that a 6 ounce serving of calcium-fortified orange juice packs in a whopping 261 mg of the mineral. Which clocks in at 20.1% DV, putting it squarely in the list of not just calcium-containing fruit sources but calcium-rich ones.26
|↑2||New Recommended Daily Amounts of Calcium and Vitamin D. NIH Medline Plus.|
|↑3||Labeling Daily Values. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑5||Rhubarb, frozen, cooked, with sugar.
|↑6||Tangerines, (mandarin oranges), raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑7||Oranges, raw, all commercial varieties. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑8||Kumquats, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑9||Grapefruit, raw, pink and red, all areas. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑10||Prickly pears, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑11||Kiwifruit, green, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑12||Mulberries, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑13||Blackberries, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑14||Raspberries, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑15||Strawberries, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑16||Papayas, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑17||Guavas, common, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑18||Jackfruit, raw. United States Department of Agriculture,Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑19||Custard-apple, (bullock’s-heart), raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑20||Dates, medjool. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑21||Calcium Counts! British Nutrition Foundation.|
|↑22||Figs, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑23||Plums, dried (prunes), uncooked. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑24||Apricots, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑25||Apricots, dried, sulfured, uncooked. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑26||Calcium. Office of Dietary Supplements.|