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Holiday Foods for Strengthening Bones

This winter holiday season, why not make a conscious choice to eat foods that not only taste good, but are also good for your bones?

Hands Pass Bowl of Green Beans to Woman

Eating for bone health can help you feel healthier and happier. You can also take it one step further and make it a family affair.

Over the holidays, teach your family members about foods that support strong and healthy bones. Most children do not get the calcium they need to strengthen their bones and build optimal peak bone mass. Starting on a good dietary path now could help them avoid issues related to bone health later in life.

Why Strong Bones Matter

As we age, our bones lose density and weaken. We can even develop osteoporosis, a disease that causes the bones to become porous and brittle. Women have a higher risk of osteoporosis, and one out of every two women 50 and older will likely break a bone because of the disease

There are a variety of factors that increase the risk of developing osteoporosis. Some factors cannot be changed, such as age, gender, medical history and genetics. However, there are other lifestyle factors you can control. You are at higher risk for osteoporosis if you:

  • Smoke
  • Are inactive
  • Have obesity
  • Drink alcohol frequently
  • Do not get enough bone-healthy foods or nutrients, such as calcium

Holiday Foods for Strong Bones

Fortunately, there are holiday foods that taste good and are also good for bone health. This year why not challenge yourself to enjoy traditional favorites as well as some dishes you haven’t had before. Here are a few choices to consider this holiday season:

Holiday Snacks and Appetizers

  • Cheese Platter: Cheese is high in calcium, which is key to bone health. Look for hard cheeses, which tend to have higher levels of calcium. Don’t eat too much though, since cheese can also be high in fat and calories.
  • Nuts: Nuts are surprisingly high in calcium. Choose almonds over other varieties; they offer twice as much calcium as walnuts and other nuts. Like with cheese, enjoy in moderation, since nuts are also high in fat and calories.

Main Courses and Side Dishes

  • Salmon: Consider preparing salmon, a high-calcium rich food, for a holiday main course. Red meat, in contrast, is low in calcium, so skip the rib roast this year and start a new holiday main course tradition.
  • Sweet Potatoes: Calcium is not the only important nutrient for bone health — potassium and magnesium are too. Fortunately, sweet potatoes contain a healthy dose of both. Try swapping out a baked potato with a baked sweet potato. Top it with a dollop of calcium-rich, plain, low-fat yogurt, and you’ve just made it even better for your bone health.

Dessert

  • Figs: Ever heard the holiday song about figgy pudding? Traditional figgy pudding is made with ingredients like flour, beef fat, figs and dried fruit — not a healthy option. This year keep the “figgy” but forget the “pudding” since figs are high in calcium, potassium and magnesium. If you can’t find fresh figs, dried figs are just as bone-healthy.

After-Holiday Energy Breakfast

  • Yogurt Parfait: The day after a holiday celebration, no one wants to prepare or eat a big breakfast. Why not try a simple yogurt parfait by combing plain yogurt with calcium-fortified granola, your favorite berries and some toasted nuts?

Enjoy these delicious options and quality time with your family this season. Have a happy (and bone-healthy) holiday!

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