Vegetarian Foods With A One-Two Oral Health Punch

If you are considering switching – or have already switched – to a vegetarian diet, you may have heard that it's a good idea to talk to a doctor or nutritionist to make sure you're getting all the nutrients you need. But don't overlook talking to your dentist as well. Your nutritional intake can have a big impact on the health and strength of your teeth and gums.

One of the most important nutritional combinations for oral health is vitamin D and calcium. Calcium helps your bones and teeth stay strong and healthy, and vitamin D is necessary for your body to absorb dietary calcium properly. For adults, the recommended daily amount of vitamin D is 600 IU and the recommended daily amount of calcium is 1,000 mg (or 1,200 for women over 50 and men over 70).

If your dentist is concerned that you're not getting enough of these nutrients, it's possible to turn to pills. But while supplements are available, many people prefer to get as many of their nutrients from their diet as possible. If you're looking to make vegetarian meals that can give you both calcium and vitamin D together, try these tips:

Choose White Beans And Cheese For Chili

If you're making chili, white beans are a good source of calcium. And vitamin D? That gives you an excuse to melt some cheese on top of your chili at the end. While many cheeses contain both calcium and vitamin D, check your nutritional label – some cheese is fortified with vitamin D, so levels can vary. And if you're tired of eating chili plain, the same combo of white beans and cheese makes an excellent filling for quesadillas as well!

Add Leafy Greens To Your Omelets

Eggs are a good source of vitamin D – but make sure you're not leaving out the yolks, where the nutrients are. And pretty much any omelet recipe can be altered to include leafy greens if it doesn't already. Spinach, kale, okra, and collards are all high in calcium and make excellent omelet additions. If the idea of yet another omelet makes you groan, greens and eggs also go together well in salads – boil an egg or two and then dice or crumble it on top.

Add A Fortified Drink

Any meal can become a vitamin D and calcium meal with the right drink. Orange juice and milk are both frequently fortified to be high in both calcium and vitamin D. And if lactose is a problem, soy and other non-dairy milks are often similarly fortified.

If you're tired of drinking these ingredients, remember that many baking recipes – especially for simple breads – involve milk. Orange juice can be combined with vinegar for a salad vinaigrette with a delicious citrus flair.