Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Why Calcium is Crucial: Local Dishes That Boost Intake

Last Updated on November 22, 2023


Calcium plays a pivotal role in fortifying bones and teeth, ensuring their strength and resilience.

A daily intake of 1000-1300 mg of calcium is recommended for adults to maintain optimal bone health.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the vibrant tapestry of Nigerian cuisine to unveil delectable dishes abundant in calcium.

These dishes stand as not just culinary delights but also as nutritional powerhouses.

Understanding the significance of calcium goes beyond the confines of bones; it’s crucial for muscle function, nerve transmission, and hormonal balance. Thus, ensuring an adequate intake is paramount.

Nigerian cuisine, known for its diverse flavors and rich ingredients, offers a plethora of dishes ripe with calcium.

These traditional delicacies are not only flavorful but also serve as a nutritional boon for maintaining strong bones and teeth.

Throughout this post, we will explore various local Nigerian dishes and unveil their calcium-rich ingredients.

From tantalizing soups like Egusi soup made with nutrient-dense seeds to vegetable stews like Efo Riro brimming with leafy greens, these dishes are a treasure trove of essential nutrients.

By uncovering the calcium-rich gems nestled within Nigerian culinary heritage, this blog aims to offer insights and inspiration.

Embracing these local delicacies can be a delectable pathway to meet your daily calcium requirements, fostering robust bone health.

Stay tuned as we embark on this flavorful journey through Nigeria’s culinary landscape, discovering dishes that not only tantalize the taste buds but also bolster the foundation of strong bones and teeth.

Calcium and its role in the body

Calcium is crucial for various functions in the body, including muscle contraction and nerve signaling.

It also plays a significant role in blood clotting, ensuring that wounds heal properly.

Importance of calcium for children and teenagers

  1. Calcium is essential during childhood and teenage years as it promotes optimal growth and development.

  2. It helps in the formation and maintenance of strong and healthy bones.

  3. Calcium also aids in the development of teeth, ensuring proper dental health.

Calcium’s role in preventing osteoporosis and reducing fracture risk

  1. Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by weakened bones, and calcium plays a vital role in its prevention.

  2. Adequate calcium intake throughout life can help build strong bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

  3. In older adults, consuming enough calcium reduces the likelihood of fractures and helps maintain bone density.

Local dishes that boost calcium intake

  1. Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Pasta Shells: This dish combines calcium-rich spinach and cheese, providing a delicious way to increase your calcium intake.

  2. Tofu Stir-Fry with Broccoli: Tofu is an excellent source of calcium, and when combined with broccoli, it creates a nutritious and calcium-packed meal.

  3. Yogurt Parfait with Fresh Fruits: Yogurt is a great source of calcium, and when paired with fresh fruits, it creates a tasty and healthy dessert option.

  4. Sardine Curry: Sardines are not only a good source of omega-3 fatty acids but also contain high levels of calcium.

  5. Collard Greens with Beans: Collard greens are rich in calcium, and when cooked with beans, it forms a protein-packed dish with added calcium benefits.

  6. Sesame Seed-Coated Chicken: Chicken coated with sesame seeds provides a calcium boost along with essential proteins.

  7. Almond and Date Smoothie: Almonds and dates are both high in calcium, and when blended into a smoothie, they create a nutritious and calcium-rich drink.

  8. Salmon with Kale Salad: Salmon is a great source of calcium, and when paired with a kale salad, it becomes a delicious and healthy meal option.

  9. Black Bean Quesadilla: Black beans are not only a good source of calcium but also provide fiber and protein, making this dish a well-rounded option.

  10. Chia Seed Pudding: Chia seeds are packed with calcium, and when combined with milk or yogurt, they make a creamy and nutritious dessert.

Incorporating these local dishes into your diet can help ensure you meet your daily calcium requirements, promoting overall health and well-being.

Read: Chromium & Its Dietary Importance for Nigerians

Nigerian dishes known for their calcium content

Nigerian dishes are not only delicious but also packed with nutrients, including calcium.

These local dishes offer a tasty way to boost your calcium intake and meet your daily requirements.

Popular Nigerian Dishes Rich in Calcium

  1. Egusi Soup

  2. Okra Soup

  3. Ugu (Pumpkin Leaves) Soup

  4. Ogbono Soup

These dishes are not only staples in Nigerian cuisine, but they are also incredibly nutritious and rich in calcium.

Contributing to Daily Calcium Requirements

Calcium is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in the development and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth.

It is particularly important for growing children, pregnant women, and the elderly.

Including calcium-rich dishes in your daily diet can help ensure your calcium requirements are met.

Eating Nigerian dishes like egusi soup, okra soup, ugu soup, and ogbono soup regularly can significantly contribute to meeting your daily calcium needs.

Examples of Dishes Made with Calcium-Rich Ingredients

Egusi Soup

Egusi soup is a popular Nigerian dish made with ground egusi (melon seeds) and other ingredients such as meat, fish, and vegetables.

By incorporating egusi into your diet, you can benefit from a good amount of calcium, protein, and healthy fats.

Okra Soup

Okra soup is a beloved dish in Nigeria, and it is often cooked with palm oil, fish, meat, and other spices.

Okra, the main ingredient, is not only rich in calcium but also provides vital nutrients like fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins.

Ugu (Pumpkin Leaves) Soup

Ugu soup is made from ugu (pumpkin leaves), which are highly nutritious and an excellent source of calcium.

Other ingredients like meat, fish, crayfish, and assorted vegetables make this dish even more enticing.

Ogbono Soup

Ogbono soup is a delicious Nigerian dish made with ogbono (African bush mango seeds) mixed with vegetables and other ingredients.

This soup not only provides a good amount of calcium but is also rich in healthy fats, protein, and essential vitamins.

Including these dishes in your diet allows you to enjoy traditional Nigerian flavors while reaping the benefits of their calcium content.

In essence, Nigerian cuisine offers a variety of dishes that are naturally rich in calcium, making it easier to meet your daily calcium requirements.

By incorporating dishes like egusi soup, okra soup, ugu soup, and ogbono soup into your regular diet, you can ensure you’re getting the essential calcium needed for healthy bones and teeth.

Read: Magnesium Sources: Nigeria’s Top Native Foods

Recipe spotlight: Egusi soup

Egusi soup is a traditional Nigerian dish that is not only delicious but also packed with nutrients, including calcium.

If you want to boost your calcium intake, this soup is a perfect choice. Here’s a step-by-step recipe to make this mouthwatering dish.


  1. 2 cups of egusi (melon seeds)

  2. 500g of assorted meats (beef, goat meat, or chicken)

  3. 1 medium-sized onion, chopped

  4. 3 cloves of garlic, minced

  5. 2 tablespoons of palm oil

  6. 1 bunch of spinach or other green leafy vegetables

  7. 2 cups of stock or water

  8. Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Start by grinding the egusi seeds into a fine powder using a blender or a food processor. Set aside.

  2. Heat the palm oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and minced garlic and sauté until fragrant.

  3. Add the assorted meats to the pot and cook until browned on all sides.

  4. Once the meats are well browned, add the ground egusi to the pot and stir well to combine with the meats.

  5. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking and burning.

  6. Gradually add the stock or water to the pot, stirring constantly to create a smooth consistency.

  7. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 30 minutes or until the meats are tender.

  8. While the soup is simmering, wash the spinach or other green vegetables thoroughly and chop them into bite-sized pieces.

  9. Add the chopped vegetables to the pot and season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. Stir well.

  10. Cover the pot and let the soup cook for an additional 10 minutes or until the vegetables are wilted.

  11. Remove the pot from the heat and let the soup cool slightly before serving.

The calcium boost

Egusi soup is a calcium powerhouse due to the presence of two key ingredients: egusi (melon seeds) and green leafy vegetables.

Egusi seeds are not only rich in calcium but also contain other essential minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.

They provide a significant calcium punch to the soup, contributing to your daily calcium intake.

The addition of green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, further enhances the calcium content of the soup.

Green vegetables are known for their high calcium absorption rate and are excellent sources of this essential mineral.

By incorporating egusi soup into your diet, you can easily increase your calcium intake and support strong bones and teeth.

Egusi soup is a traditional Nigerian dish that not only satisfies your taste buds but also boosts your calcium intake.

With its rich combination of egusi seeds and green leafy vegetables, this soup is a nutrient powerhouse.

Try this recipe today and enjoy the delicious flavors while nourishing your body with much-needed calcium.

Read: Beverages in Nigeria: Which Ones Offer Rich Minerals?

Why Calcium is Crucial: Local Dishes That Boost Intake

Recipe Spotlight: Okra Soup

Popularity of Okra Soup in Nigerian Cuisine

Okra soup is an integral part of Nigerian cuisine, loved for its unique flavors and health benefits.

It is a staple dish in many Nigerian households and can be found on the menu of local restaurants and street food stalls.

One reason for the popularity of okra soup in Nigerian cuisine is its versatility.

It can be enjoyed on its own or paired with other dishes such as pounded yam, eba, or fufu.

This flexibility makes it suitable for various occasions, from simple family dinners to festive gatherings.

The thick, viscous texture of okra soup is another aspect that attracts people to this dish.

The gelatinous consistency is obtained from the mucilage present in the okra pods when they are cooked.

This texture adds a unique mouthfeel and richness to the soup.

Detailed Recipe for Making Okra Soup

To make a delicious okra soup, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  1. 500g okra pods

  2. 400g assorted meats (beef, chicken, or goat meat)

  3. 200g fresh fish fillets

  4. 100g crayfish

  5. 2 onions

  6. 4 fresh tomatoes

  7. 3 tablespoons palm oil

  8. 2 tablespoons ground pepper

  9. Salt to taste

Step-by-step guide to preparing the okra soup

Here’s a step-by-step guide to preparing the okra soup:

  1. Wash and chop the okra pods into small pieces. Set aside.

  2. Clean and season the assorted meats with salt, pepper, and one chopped onion. Cook until tender.

  3. In a separate pot, boil the fresh fish fillets for a few minutes until cooked. Remove from the pot and set aside.

  4. Blend the tomatoes and remaining onion together to make a smooth paste.

  5. Heat the palm oil in a large pot, then add the tomato-onion paste and cook until the mixture thickens.

  6. Add the chopped okra pods to the pot and stir well. Cook for about 5 minutes.

  7. Add the assorted meats and crayfish to the pot, stirring to combine all the ingredients.

  8. Season with ground pepper and salt to taste. Stir and let the soup simmer for another 10 minutes.

  9. Finally, add the cooked fish fillets and gently stir to incorporate them into the soup.

  10. Serve the okra soup hot with your choice of side dish.

Calcium-Rich Components of Okra Soup

Okra soup is not only delicious but also packed with essential nutrients, including calcium.

Here are the calcium-rich components found in the soup:

  1. Okra Pods: Okra pods are a great source of calcium, providing approximately 82 milligrams per cup. They also contain other minerals like magnesium and potassium.

  2. Fish: Adding fish to the okra soup enhances its calcium content. Fish such as mackerel, catfish, and tilapia are excellent sources of this essential mineral.

  3. Crayfish: Another calcium-rich ingredient in okra soup is crayfish. It not only adds flavor but also contributes to the overall nutritional value of the dish.

By incorporating these calcium-rich components into your okra soup, you can boost your calcium intake and promote strong bones and teeth.

In general, okra soup holds a special place in Nigerian cuisine due to its versatility, unique texture, and health benefits.

With its calcium-rich ingredients, it not only satisfies your taste buds but also nourishes your body.

So why not give this delicious dish a try and enjoy its nutritional benefits?

Read: The Underrated Minerals: Boron, Molybdenum & Nickel

Recipe spotlight: Ugu (Pumpkin) soup

Nutritional Benefits of Ugu (Pumpkin) Leaves Soup

  1. Ugu (Pumpkin) leaves are highly nutritious, packed with calcium, iron, vitamins A and C.

  2. It promotes healthy bones, teeth, and muscles due to its high calcium content.

  3. Ugu soup is a good source of antioxidants, which help protect the body against diseases.

  4. It contains fiber that aids in digestion and keeps you feeling full for longer.

  5. Ugu leaves are known to boost the immune system and improve overall well-being.

Ingredients for Calcium-rich Ugu Soup

  1. 2 cups of ugu leaves, washed and finely chopped

  2. 1 cup of spinach, washed and chopped

  3. 1 medium-sized smoked fish, deboned and shredded

  4. 1 onion, finely chopped

  5. 2 garlic cloves, minced

  6. 2 tablespoons of palm oil

  7. 4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock

  8. Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat the palm oil in a pot over medium heat and sauté the onions and garlic until fragrant.

  2. Add the shredded smoked fish and cook for a few minutes until slightly crispy.

  3. Pour in the chicken or vegetable stock and bring to a boil.

  4. Add the ugu leaves and spinach, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.

  5. Season with salt and pepper according to your taste preference.

  6. Serve the ugu soup hot with a side of your choice, such as boiled plantains or rice.

Cultural Significance of Ugu Soup in Nigerian Households

Ugu soup holds a special place in Nigerian households as it represents tradition, warmth, and community.

It is often prepared for special occasions and gatherings, symbolizing unity and the sharing of love.

The soup is passed down through generations, with each family adding their unique touch to the recipe.

Ugu soup is also a way of preserving cultural heritage and showcasing the abundance of natural resources in Nigeria.

It is a comfort food that brings people together, making it an integral part of Nigerian culinary identity.

In a nutshell, ugu (pumpkin) soup is not only delicious but also incredibly nutritious.

By incorporating calcium-rich ingredients like ugu leaves, smoked fish, and spinach, you can boost your calcium intake while enjoying a hearty meal.

Along with its cultural significance, ugu soup represents the rich culinary heritage of Nigerian households.

So, why not give this recipe a try and experience the flavors and benefits of ugu soup for yourself?


Calcium is crucial for overall health and well-being. It plays a vital role in supporting strong bones, teeth, and muscles.

Getting enough calcium is especially important for individuals at risk of osteoporosis, such as women and older adults.

Fortunately, there are delicious and nutritious local Nigerian dishes that can help boost your calcium intake.

From Ewedu soup to Nkoyo Mbe, these dishes not only provide essential nutrients but also showcase the rich flavors and diversity of Nigerian cuisine.

So, why not give these recipes a try? By incorporating calcium-rich ingredients into your meals, you can enjoy both the taste and health benefits.

And don’t stop at these featured recipes – there are plenty of other calcium-rich dishes waiting for you to explore in Nigerian cuisine.

Remember, taking care of your calcium intake is essential for maintaining strong and healthy bones.

So, make the conscious effort to include calcium-rich foods in your diet. Your body will thank you in the long run!

So, whether you’re a fan of traditional Nigerian cuisine or someone looking to explore new flavors, make sure to make calcium a priority. Your bones will thank you!

Thank you for joining us on this journey to discover the importance of calcium and its presence in local Nigerian dishes.

We hope you enjoy exploring these recipes and incorporating them into your everyday life.

Cheers to good health and delicious meals!

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