The Best Foods To Fight Osteoporosis

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, over 54 million Americans are at risk of osteoporosis. The disease causes the body to create too little bone mass, resulting in over two million fractures every year. Fortunately, your diet can delay the progression of osteoporosis.

Research in nutrients proves that eating certain fruits, vegetables, and proteins can help bones grow, even in adulthood. If you use the right cooking oil or cook fish with the bone in, you’ll have a lower chance of breaking bones later in life. Here are the best foods to fight osteoporosis.

No, The Protein In Milk Doesn’t Harm Your Bones

A recent health myth says that too much protein deteriorates bones. But science asserts otherwise. In 2017, a scientific review concluded that more protein improves bone health. Milk supplies protein and calcium, which contributes to bone health even in adulthood.

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Although some studies debate the efficiency of milk, randomized controlled trials–considered to be the best studies out there– say that milk helps osteoporosis. A study in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research stated that milk increases bone density in adults and prevents bone loss later in life.

The Best Cooking Oil For Bone Health

If you want to preserve bone mass, cook with olive oil. In 2012, a study from the Endocrine Society found that olive oil can protect against osteoporosis. It raises the body’s level of osteocalcin, which is a marker of healthy bone formation. The Mediterranean diet, which mainly uses olive oil, supports bone health more than other diets.

A woman picks up a bottle of olive oil.
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LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images

According to research in 2016, olives contain polyphenols that protect bone cells. Both fresh olives and olive oil can guard against osteoporosis and slow down the rate of bone loss.

This Unique Protein Is Only In Broccoli

In 2012, scientists found another nutrient (besides calcium) that enhances bone health. Scientists from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute discovered that osteocalcin– a protein that appears in broccoli– strengthens bones. Specifically, it guards against damage and reduces the likelihood of osteoporosis.

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Osteocalcin appears in dark green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach. Lead researcher Deepak Vashishth adds that vitamin K also helps bone health. Broccoli has a high vitamin K count compared to other vegetables. Even if you hated broccoli as a kid, it can save your bones as an adult.

Prunes: Not Just For Digestion

Many people eat prunes for their digestive health, but these fruits also aid your bones. In 2017, a study in Osteoporosis International reported that prunes prevent bone loss. When women with low bone density ate five to six prunes per day, they received more mineral density.

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In Nutrients, scientists reviewed 24 studies on prunes and concluded that they could recover bone minerals. Researchers believe that prunes can alleviate osteoporosis. These dried fruits have plenty of vitamin K and fiber, and they will keep your gut healthy as well. There’s no downside!

Massage Aloe Vera And Eat It, Too

Aloe vera is an edible shrub that is also used as a topical. If you drink it as a juice, you may receive some bone benefits. You can thank the ingredient acemannan, says the Journal of Dental Sciences. Acemannan speeds up bone growth and regeneration.

Gel leaks from a cut stem of aloe vera.
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Chantal CASANOVA/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Aloe vera may also benefit osteoporosis patients as a topical. A 2015 study suggested that aloe vera may improve osteoporosis symptoms along with medication. Most research connects aloe vera to arthritis, but the plant may help other bone diseases as well.

Time To Chop Bok Choy

Your mother was right when she said that growing kids need calcium. But many forget that adults need enough calcium, too. According to the College of Family Physicians, calcium is one of the most crucial nutrients for bone health, and it decreases throughout adulthood. Bok choy is a fantastic source of calcium.

A chef cooks bok choy in a skillet.
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The West Virginia Division of Health Promotion and Chronic Disease recommends bok choy for osteoporosis. This leafy green often appears in stir fry, and it is a nutritional powerhouse. One cup of bok choy offers 74 mg of calcium. Eat up!

Not A Milk Fan? Try Soy Milk

Soy products, including tofu and miso, can prevent osteoporosis. In 2016, scientists reviewed over 130 studies in the Journal of Medicinal Food. They concluded that soy foods could fight osteoporosis by strengthening bones. It lowers the risk of fractures and speeds bone formation.

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BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, soy contains isaflavones that benefit bone health. Soy milk also provides calcium, but it has far less calcium than dairy milk. Although research on soy is ongoing, it seems promising as an anti-osteoporosis food.

Why You Should Eat Egg Yolks

If you want better bone health, don’t limit yourself to egg whites. Whole eggs are critical for bone minerals, according to Osteoporosis International. Eggs are rich in vitamin D that helps the body absorb calcium and strengthen bones. But most of an egg’s vitamin D is in the yolk.

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Egg yolk also protects your bones against osteoporosis. In 2011, researchers tested egg yolk water-soluble peptides in rats. Egg yolks made bones thicker and more mineral-dense. Cooking some eggs for breakfast may delay the onset of osteoporosis.

You Can Only Get This Ingredient From Onions

In 2005, scientists discovered that onions might keep your bones healthy as you age. The researchers examined onion’s unique compound, GPCS, on rats. The animals experienced far less bone loss when they consumed onion extract. Although it was an animal study, this research paved the way for human trials later.

Chopped white onions are in a chef's kitchen.

Four years later, researchers analyzed how women over 50 reacted to onion consumption. The more onions women ate, the higher bone density they had. Participants who ate some onion every day have 5% more bone mass than those who didn’t. Get chopping!

Cook Salmon With The Bone In

Salmon is one of the healthiest fish you can eat. Researchers have discovered that calcium and salmon calcitonin helps men with osteoporosis. During one study, these minerals improved bone density in patients’ spine and hips. According to BMC Nutrition & Metabolism, salmon is a delicious source of bone-healthy calcium.

A chef sprinkles herbs on raw salmon.
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Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

For the best results, eat salmon with the bone in. Registered dietitian and nutritionist Carrie Dennett says that keeping the bones in fish will help your bones. It provides more nutrients and flavor to your meal.

Do You Need An Excuse To Eat Garlic?

Garlic doesn’t just taste great; it also has “anti-osteoporosis effects,” according to research. A 2006 animal study noted that garlic oil relieved osteoporosis in rats. The rats had higher bone density and a lower rate of bone loss after consuming garlic oil.

Chopped garlic is in a bowl on a marble table.
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Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Garlic’s healing abilities come from its component, allicin. According to the Journals of Gerontology, allicin can reverse bone aging. In other words, it maintains bone mass as people age, which is a major cause of osteoporosis. But then again, do you need another excuse to eat more garlic?

Saffron Is Well Worth The Money

Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world because a small amount can transform a meal. But this luxury food also contributes to bone health. According to a 2014 study, saffron has a “preventative effect” on osteoporosis. Its compound, crocin, lowered oxidative stress in bone tissue.

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In simpler terms, saffron can protect the inside of your bones. Research in the Journal of Pharmacy & Pharmacognosy Research stated that the spice also guards your bone marrow against cancer. It might be worth dishing out a few extra dollars for.

The Secret Power Of Turnips

Turnips may not be everyone’s first choice of vegetables, but they are incredibly effective against osteoporosis. In July 2020, an animal study concluded that turnips treated osteoporosis in rats. The vegetable oils and nutrients sped up bone formation.

Turnips are in a pile, and one is sliced in half.
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Turnips supply both calcium and vitamin K. According to research in The Open Orthopaedics Journal, these nutrients are essential to bone health. Scientists assert that you should eat vegetables instead of supplements; the oils in vegetables help your body absorb the minerals better. So go buy some turnips.

How Almonds Protect Bone Tissue

Almonds have a unique ability to protect bones against harmful cells. In 2011, a study in the journal Metabolism analyzed how almonds help bones. They suppress osteoclasts, a cell that destroys bone tissue. For osteoporosis patients, this can make all the difference.

A close-up shows almonds in a pile.
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Anton NovoderezhkinTASS via Getty Images

Almonds also provide several nutrients that support your bones. According to AlgaeCal, almonds contain calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and potassium–all of which may fight against osteoporosis. A handful of almonds or spoonful of almond butter fits perfectly into an anti-osteoporosis diet.

Why Kale Is A Bone Superfood

Experts have called kale a “superfood” for its powerhouse of nutrients. Health coach Tina Paymaster says that kale provides vitamins K and C. Vitamin K enhances bone health, and vitamin C supports joint strength.

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Kale’s greatest perk is its high calcium content. Just one cup of kale provides 40% of your daily recommended calcium dose. Paymaster explains that calcium inhibits the loss of bone mass. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends consuming at least 1,000 mg of calcium per day. The takeaway: kale is a superfood, especially for osteoporosis.

Hungry? Have Whole Grain Cereal For Breakfast

Not all cereals are unhealthy; some are the perfect breakfast to help fight osteoporosis. Researchers have discovered proteins and nutrients in whole-grain cereals that strengthen bones. In 2017, research in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition said that whole-grain cereal improved bone density in males with osteoporosis.

A woman eats a bowl of cereal with fruit.
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When you combine whole-grain cereal with milk, you have a nutrient-dense meal for bone health. During a 2015 study, researchers correlated fruit, milk, and cereal with healthy bone density in adults. In the morning, grab a whole-grain cereal, pour in some milk, and add a topping of fruit–perfect!

The Ups And Downs Of Eating Beans

Plant-based proteins encourage bone health, and beans fit that bill. A study in Nutrition Research and Practice stated that beans increase bone mineral density. In 2017, a later study came to the same conclusion.

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There is one downside of beans: some are high in phytates. According to American Bone Health, phytates can suppress the absorption of calcium. However, other studies have linked phytates to better bone density. If you’re worried, rinse or soak beans before cooking them. Chickpeas, lentils, and white beans have the lowest amount of phytates.

To Relieve Inflammation, Eat Ginger

According to research, osteoporosis may result from inflammation. Ginger is a potent anti-inflammatory that can delay the disease’s onset. According to the Journal of Medicinal Food, ginger halts inflammation in the body and the bones.

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In 2018, a study in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy examined ginger’s effect on the spine. Ginger increased the number of osteoclasts in the body, which maintains bone health. In animal studies, the herb improved spine strength in rats. Plus, ginger adds flavor to any dish, so there’s no reason not to eat it.

Sprinkle Turmeric In Your Cooking

According to a 2018 study, turmeric could help millions of Americans who have bone diseases like osteoporosis. Researchers from Washington State University discovered that curcumin, an ingredient in turmeric, helps to grow bones. Curcumin supports new bone cells and blood vessels surrounding the bone.

A close-up shows dried turmeric powder.
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Tom Stoddart/Getty Images

Research in World Neurosurgery saw people with spinal injuries benefit from curcumin. The study concluded that turmeric slowed the effects of osteoporosis. According to the Natural Medicine Journal, the spice also improves bone density. You can sprinkle powdered turmeric into several recipes for better taste and bone health.

Did You Know This About Oregano?

If you’ve eaten Mediterranean or Italian dishes, you may have tried oregano without knowing how it benefits your bones. In 2009, Swiss scientists discovered that oregano could reverse inflammation. It specifically stops bone inflammation that could trigger osteoporosis.

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According to researcher Andreas Zimmer, oregano has a unique ingredient called beta-caryophyllin (shortened to E-BCP). E-BCP tackles the inflammation that causes osteoporosis in rats. Although more studies need to be done, oregano shows promise for patients with osteoporosis. Sprinkle some oregano on your meals, and you’ll get a great taste and better bone health.