What you can’t see can still hurt you—especially when it comes to bone mass. Most people don’t realize they have low bone mass until they fracture a bone. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), osteoporosis (a disease that causes bones to become fragile and weak) affects an estimated 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men over the age of 50.
While many foods and eating habits can accelerate bone loss, there are also many foods you can eat to keep your bones strong and healthy. Nutrients like vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin K are all important in preventing aging bones.
Rather than trying to add these nutrients individually, here is a list of five recipes to prevent aging bones and support bone health at any age. Then for healthier recipe ideas, check out these 50 Best Easy (and Quick) Dinner Recipes.
This pumpkin parfait will get your day off to a great start and fill up on bone-supporting nutrients. Each serving contains 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt, which adds a significant amount of calcium to this recipe.
Calcium is important for bone formation. Over 99% of the body’s calcium is in the bones, and without enough of it, your bones can’t rebuild faster than they break down.
This fall breakfast favorite is packed with other essential 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 found that maintaining adequate iron levels is essential for strong bones. According to one article, too much or too little iron can result in weak and brittle bones drug.
Each serving of this pumpkin parfait provides 15% of the Daily Value (DV) of iron from pumpkin puree and pumpkin seed granola.
Get our recipe for Spicy Pumpkin Parfait.
When you’re in the mood for a hearty breakfast (or lunch or dinner), these scrambled eggs are packed with flavor and nutrients to keep your bones young.
Salmon and egg yolks are some of the few foods that contain naturally occurring vitamin D. One ounce of smoked salmon contains 4.9 micrograms of vitamin D, or 24% of the DV, and two eggs provide another 5% of the DV.
Without enough vitamin D, your body can’t absorb the calcium it takes in. While your body can make its own vitamin D from the sun, it may not be enough during the winter months or when you spend most of your time indoors or wear sunscreen.
The older you are, the harder it can be to get enough vitamin D. According to a review in bone research.
The higher risk of vitamin D deficiency in older adults is related to less time outdoors, a lower rate of vitamin D synthesis in the skin from sunlight, and insufficient intake of 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 an excellent way to work them in. Baby kale leaves are tender and tender, unlike adult kale, which can be chewy and intensely flavored.
Baby kale not only tastes delicious in this dish. It’s a good source of calcium and vitamin C, and just one cup of baby kale leaves provides 270% of your DV for vitamin K.
Low vitamin K levels are associated with low bone density and an increased risk of fractures. But be careful if you’re taking a blood-thinning medication. Eating inconsistent foods containing vitamin K can cause blood thinners to be more or less effective than they need to be.
In addition to the nutrients in kale, this salad is a protein powerhouse with walnuts, chicken, and cannellini beans. The 24 grams of protein from this salad will keep you full and satisfied and your bones strong.
While calcium is often the major contributor to bone strength, protein makes up 50% of your bone structure and is essential as your bones are constantly being broken down and rebuilt. Adding a source of protein to every meal and snack can help you get enough for strong and healthy bones.
Get our Roast Chicken, Kale, and Kidney Bean Salad recipe.
If you need an extra boost to bone health, check out the #1 Best Supplements 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 ups the bone-building power by adding beans and Greek yogurt.
Canned tuna is easy to find, budget-friendly, and high in nutrients. A 3-ounce serving of canned tuna contains 5.9 micrograms, or 28% of the DV for vitamin D.
This recipe makes it a little easier 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 calcium boost.
Chickpeas are a good source of protein, as well as magnesium, which is essential for activating vitamin D (which in turn is needed for the absorption of calcium).
These three nutrients are necessary to work together to promote strong and healthy bones as we age. If you’re missing one, your bones could be at a higher risk of fracture. Luckily, this simple meal contains this trifecta of essential bone nutrients.
Get our recipe for Healthy Tuna Veggie Melts.
This bone-building meal is perfect if you’re on a vegan, dairy-free, or gluten-free diet. Chard, tofu, and butternut squash can support your bone health no matter what diet you follow.
Butternut squash is a good source of potassium, which helps neutralize acids in the body that can break down bones. In a 2017 study of Korean postmenopausal women, those with the highest potassium intake had 21% higher hip bone mineral density than the women with the lowest potassium intake.
Tofu, along with other soy foods, is an excellent non-dairy source of calcium. Just half a cup of tofu contains 861 milligrams of calcium, or 66% of the adult DV.
To absorb as much calcium as possible from this dish, serve with an ice-cold glass of vitamin D-fortified plant-based milk.
Get our recipe for Tofu Butternut Squash Curry.