Foods for the prevention of osteoporosis

As we age, the density of our bones naturally decreases because of a gradual loss of minerals. When that mineral loss is severe, a condition called osteoporosis occurs and is more common in women after menopause.

By the time you are 22 years old, you have developed up to 90 percent of your bone mass and slows down at age 30. By the time women reach 70 years old, more than 40 percent have had at least one fracture caused by osteoporosis.


Often there is no symptom until a fracture occurs after a fall. However, there might be back pain if the vertebrae become weakened and collapse. You might also notice loosening of your teeth, loss of weight and kyphosis, an excessive curvature of the upper spine, also known as dowager’s hump.

Mature bones become less dense from factors such as being small-boned, underweight, inactive, a poor diet, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

The amount of calcium available plays a major role in determining the rates of bone formation.

There might also be a gene that interferes with the ability to use vitamin D, crucial for calcium absorption. Unfortunately, it is prevalent in Caucasians and Asians.

“For years, it was thought that a little belly fat would help reduce osteoporosis but recent research suggests the opposite, especially if your fat is concentrated in your middle,” says Abby Abelson, MD, chairwoman of the Department of Rheumatic and Immunologic Diseases at the Cleveland Clinic. “Harvard researchers found that premenopausal women who had more visceral fat also had decreased bone mineral density. One theory posits that overweight people are more prone to vitamin D deficiency, since the fat-soluble vitamin can get trapped in fat tissue.

Further research shows that folks with high levels of fat in their liver, muscles and blood have more fat in their bone marrow, which can lead to a higher risk of fractures.

It is normal to shrink as we age.

“The disks between the vertebrae in the spine become dehydrated and compressed,” according to Mone Xaidi, MD, director of the Mount Sinai Bone Program in New York City. It is OK to have shrinkage over three or four decades, “But if you suddenly lose an inch and a half in height, you should be concerned,” he said. “It could be due to a vertebrae fracture and can indicate osteoporosis.”

So, how do we protect our 206 bones from mineral loss? Start young by encouraging your children and grandchildren to eat foods rich in calcium, such as:

8 ounces of milk = 250 mg of calcium

2 ounces cheese = 300 mg

4 ounces yogurt = 250 mg

3 ounces sardines = 325 mg

1 cup edamame = 334 mg

1 cup tofu = 98 mg

1 cup steamed broccoli rabe = 301 mg

1 cup sauteed kale = 197 mg

1/2 cup black-eyed peas = 185 mg

1 cup white beans = 161 mg

1 tablespoon sesame seed = 140 mg

1 cup seaweed = 134 mg

3 ounces rockfish = 116 mg

1 cup butternut squash = 84 mg

1 ounce almonds = 76 mg

1 large orange = 74 mg

1 large sweet potato = 68 mg

1 cup cooked broccoli = 62 mg

3 medium figs = 52 mg

15 medium baby carrots = 48 mg

1 cup green beans = 37 mg

3 ounces clams or 9 small = 33 mg

1 ounce sunflower seeds = 20 mg

Edamame is such a great source of calcium, with 334 mg, and an essential staple in the freezer.

Edamame Hummus

Serves 8

Bring to boil:

Salted water


1 (12-ounce) package frozen shelled edamame

Cook until tender, about 5 minutes.

In food processor, puree:

2 cloves garlic

1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste)

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Cooked edamame, drained

One serving of edamame hummus = 153 mg of calcium

• • •

I have been touting the benefits of sardines as a great brain food, but sardines are one of the highest source of essential omega-3 fatty acids and also boost heart health, improve brain function, protect against cancer and reduce inflammation.

Just 3 ounces of sardines contain:

190 calories

23 grams protein

11 grams fat

338 percent vitamin B12

87 percent selenium

64 percent phosphorus

61 percent omega-3 fats

44 percent vitamin D

35 percent calcium

30 percent vitamin B3

24 percent iodine

19 percent copper

16 percent choline

Foodie Bites

• The 2018 Big Island Chocolate Festival is this weekend, April 27-28, at the Hapuna Beach Resort. For tickets, visit

• This week is the last week for Hawaii Community College’s culinary program as students start to study for finals. The Bamboo Hale is featuring the foods of Hawaii and Germany.


• The Rotary Club of South Hilo’s Hilo Huli is scheduled for Sunday, May 6, at Mokuola (Coconut) Island. You can purchase tickets from Aiona Car Sales, The Most Irresistible Shop in Downtown Hilo or members of the Rotary Club of South Hilo.

Email Audrey Wilson at