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Boning up: whether you are young or old, a diet rich in calcium can help strengthen your defenses against osteoporosis.

BONING UP

There's no question that calcium is absolutely necessary in building and maintaining a good, solid bone mass--or what I call "tough bones." Unfortunately, the average person consumes far less calcium than needed in his or her daily diet.

How much calcium do you need each day? The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) suggested by the U.S. government is 800 milligrams. In fact, for full bone development and protection against bone loss at all stages of life, you really need more--preferably 1,000 to 1,500 mg daily. That's the range that has been identified by a National Institutes of Health Consensus Conference on Osteoporosis as the necessary amount required to prevent bone-loss disease.

But how much calcium do people really get? Various dietary surveys show that the typical person gets 450 to 550 mg per day. Our studies at the Aerobics Center, where we have done nutritional analyses on the diets of thousands of men and women of all ages, support these findings.

The main sources of calcium in most people's diets are dairy foods, especially milk. Skim milk in particular is a great source of calcium, with about 300 mg in an 8-ounce glass. Whole milk has about 10 mg less. Yugart is also a good source of calcium.

So why not just load up on three glasses of milk and maybe some yogurt each day to meet your minimum quota of 1,000 mg of calcium? For some people, this solution may work quite well. But other people just don't like dairy products. Still others--an estimated 60 percent or more of the population--can't consume many dairy products in their diets because of gastrointestinal discomforts such as gas and cramps, which arise from what's known as a "lactose intolerance." This problem involves an inability to digest the sugar lactose in milk products because of a deficiency in the enzyme lactase.

Lactose-intolerant diets should include much of their calcium in the form of various supplements, as well as calcium-carrying nondairy foods such as broccoli and collards. These diets do include some dairy products. The reason for this is that almost all lactose-intolerant people, even those with significant deficiencies in the enzyme lactase, can still handle a certain amount of dairy foods.

Although the U.S. RDA for calcium is 800 mg, I prefer to go with the higher 1,000-to-1,500 range, which has been endorsed by the National Institutes of Health, as well as by Dr. Charles Pak and other experts.

The reason for choosing the higher amount is that it's important to be certain you reach at least a "zero calcium balance" in your body. That is, you should be retaining at least as much calcium as you're losing. If you're consuming only the average amounts of 450 to 550 mg a day that many Americans take in, you're in danger of losing bone mass. Furthermore, you are putting yourelf at greater risk for osteoporosis.

In addition, recent studies have shown that under some circumstances increasing your calcium consumption may lower your risk of hypertension. For example, one study of pregnant women suggested that high blood pressure was associated with low calcium intake. Also, nationwide surveys and clinical studies have indicated that as a group, those who have high blood pressure take in less calcium than do those who have normal blood pressure. Specifically, one study revealed that people who consume fewer than 300 mg of calcium daily have a two or three times greater risk of developing hypertension than do those consuming 1,500 mg a day.

Calcium from different sources is absorbed by the body with varying degrees of efficiency. In other words, calcium may be more "bioavailable" from one source than from another. In general, calcium in certain supplements tends to be better absorbed or more bioavailable than in others.

The calcium contained in milk--calcium phosphate--isn't as well absorbed when it's given as a pure salt. It's much better absorbed in the form of milk. Furthermore, skim milk seems to be better than whole milk, probably because the fats in whole milk interfere with the absorption of calcium.

Spinach contains a great deal of calcium, but it has very low bioavailabity--only about 3 percent of its calcium gets absorbed into the body. This is because the oxalates or organic salts in spinach operate in the intestines to prevent absorption of calcium.

Other common calcium-containing foods include yogurt, canned sardines and salmon (eaten with bones still present), canned or fresh oyters, collard greens, dandelion greens, turnips, mustard greens, broccoli, and kale. In many cases, their exact calcium bioavailability hasn't yet been ascertained through research studies. But you can assume they compare favorably with the calcium bioavailability of milk.

Salmon Steaks with Spinach Pesto

(Makes 6 servings)

1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained 1/2 cup fresh, or 1 teaspoon dried, basil 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese 2 cloves garlic 1/2 teaspoon sugar 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 1 container (8 ounces) plain yogurt Salt and pepper 2 pounds fresh and frozen salmon or other fish steaks

Puree first 6 ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add yogurt, processing until blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper; set aside. Grill and broil salmon 4 inches from heat source for approximately 10 minutes, or until done; turn occasionally. Spoon sauce over fish.

Note: Spinach pesto can be made one or two days prior to serving. Keep refrigerated until 1 hour before serving; best served at room temperature. Spinach pesto makes an excellent sauce for cooked pasta.

Tomato Rarebit

(Makes 6 servings)

1/4 cup chopped onion 2 tablespoons finely chopped green pepper 1 teaspoon diet margarine 1 10 3/4-ounce can tomato soup, condensed 2 cups (8 ounces) low-fat cheese, shredded 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 6 slices toast, cut diagonally

In a saucepan, cook onion and green pepper in margarine until tender. Set aside. Het soup in the top of a double boiler. Add cheese to soup and cook over boiling water, stirring constantly until cheese is melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in mustard, Worcestershire sauce, onion, and green pepper. Serve over toast pieces.

Pizza Ole

(Makes 8 servings)

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon enriched corn meal 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour 1 tablespoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt, if desired 3/4 cup skim milk 1/4 cup vegetable oil 1 12-ounce jar toco sauce 1 15 1/2-ounce can Mexican-style chili beans, undrained 1 medium green pepper, cut into thin rings 2 cups (8 ounces) low-fat cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 450[degrees] F. Grease 14-inch round pizza pan. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon corn meal evenly into prepared pan. In a medium bowl, combine remaining 1/2 cup corn meal, flour, baking powder, and salt. Add milk and oil; stir fork until mixture forms a ball.

Press dough into prepared pan; shape edge to form rim. Bake 15 minutes. Spread taco sauce evenly over partially baked crust. Top with beans, pepper rings, and cheese; continue baking 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Zucchini Quiche

(4 servings)

Crust:

1 tablespoon active dry yeast 1/2 cup warm water 1/2 cup whole wheat flour 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoon lowfat margarine

Dissolve yeast in water. Stir in flour, margarine, and salt. Knead dough on floured board for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Let rise 45 minutes.

Filling:

1 tablespoon margarine 4 cups thinly sliced, unpeeled zucchini 1 cup chopped onion 3 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves 3 egg whites 2 cups grated part-skim mozzarella cheese 2 1/2 teaspoon brown mustard

Preheat oven to 375[degrees] F. Heat margarine in a large skillet and add zucchini and onion; cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in parsley and seasonings. Set aside. In a large bowl, blend egg whites and cheese. Stir into vegetables mixture.

Transfer raised dough to an ungreased 10-inch pie pan. Press over bottom and up sides to form crust. Spread mustard over crust. Pour vegetable mixture evenly over crust. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. If crust becomes too brown, cover with foil during last 10 minutes of baking. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Veggie Burritos

(Makes 2 servings)

2 teaspoons olive oil 1/2 onion, chopped 2 stalks fresh broccoli, chopped 8 ounces tofu (firm type), cut into 1/4-inch cubes 4 flour tortillas 2 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded 1 small tomato, chopped 4 tablespoon picante sauce

Prehead oven to 300[degrees] F. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and saute onion until translucent. Add broccoli and tofu. Cook until broccoli turns bright green and tofu is heated. Set aside.

Place tortillas on cookie sheet. Evenly distribute one-quarter of shredded cheese on each tortilla. Place in oven just until cheese is melted; remove from oven.

Put about 2 to 3 tablespoon of broccoli/tofu mixture in a strip 2 inches wide down the middle of each tortilla. Add 1 tablespoon of chopped tomatoes. Return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove and add 1 to 3 teaspoons of picante sauce (depending on personal taste) to each tortilla. Roll the sides in and serve immediately.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Saturday Evening Post Society
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes recipes
Author:Cooper, Kenneth H.
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Mar 1, 1991
Words:1581
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