7 Surprising Foods to Promote Bone Health

Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt have long been glorified for their role in providing the American population with the adequate calcium and vitamin D necessary to build strong bones. While calcium and vitamin D play a key role in bone mineralization, there are many other minerals at play that often don’t get the recognition they deserve. Magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium are all minerals that promote bone growth. After the age of 18 (approximately), bone growth stops, so while these minerals, along with calcium and vitamin D, are essential for maintaining bone strength and function in adults, they are essential for proper bone development in children.

Here are 7 foods you can include in your diet to help promote bone growth:


This plant-based protein contains high amounts of calcium and phosphorus, and also happens to be an excellent source of protein, which is necessary for bone growth and muscle repair. If you’re skeptical of this plant-based-protein try these Tofu Spring Rolls with Ginger Peanut Sauce from the Nutritious Diva.  


We all know that this vegetable has been endorsed by Popeye and his big muscles, but it’s also great for your bones and is an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. If your kids haven’t developed a taste for spinach yet, try sneaking it into a fruit smoothie, or try this Cashew, Coconut, and Spinach Smoothie from dietitian Ashley Koff.


Cashews are high in magnesium and phosphorus, and are also a great source of healthy fat. Plus, cashews can be used for so much more than just a quick snack. Try these Cashew Cookie Bars from Eat Real Live Well.

Black Beans

Surprisingly, one cup of black beans contains about the same amount of calcium as a cup of milk! They are also an excellent source of protein and fiber, making a hearty and satisfying addition to any meal. You can get your daily dose of calcium by trying one of our five favorite black bean recipes.

Peanut Butter

While peanut butter is known for it’s high protein content, it also contains significant amounts of magnesium and phosphorus. So, if you start to feel like your kids are getting stuck in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich rut, you can rest easy knowing you’re helping their bones grow strong. Or, you can try switching it up with these Three Ingredient Banana Pancakes from Lonestar Nutrition. If you have a child with a nut allergy, you can substitute with sunflower seed butter, a nut free alternative and an equally great source of bone-building minerals.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are probably one of the more appealing vegetables to kids because of their sweet and creamy texture. Aside from being delicious, sweet potatoes are also high in fiber and phosphorus. And while it might be easy to write off sweet potatoes as a Thanksgiving food, they can be a sweet addition to nearly any meal or snack, including these Breakfast Sweet Potato Enchiladas from Rachael Hartley Nutrition.


Potatoes; the most popular vegetable in the country. Typically consumed in “French fry” form, potatoes have gotten a bad rep over the past few years. But, did you know that potatoes contain more potassium than bananas? They are also high in fiber and phosphorus. If you’re looking for a more satisfying alternative to French fries, try these Buffalo Blue Twice Baked Potatoes from dietitian Jenna Braddock.

There you have it! Seven delicious bone-building foods other than dairy. Which one of these foods will you incorporate into your family’s plate? Let us know in the comments below!