Treating yourself to a diet rich in highly processed, salty, fatty foods puts you at risk for heart disease and diabetes—and may also damage your bones.
Studies suggest a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins (such as fish), where the main source of dietary fat is olive oil, may produce higher levels of osteocalcin. Osteocalcin is a protein that supports bone formation. The Mediterranean diet is also shown to reduce risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes and enhance weight loss.
More food for thought on bone health
Some simple changes in your diet could mean a big difference for bone health. Here’s what the National Osteoporosis Foundation  recommends:
Foods to eat:
- Dairy products such as cheese, yogurt and milk are good sources of calcium. When you don’t get the calcium your body needs, it is taken from your bones.
- Vitamin D plays an important role in helping your body absorb the calcium you eat. Dairy products are often fortified with vitamin D, but it can also be obtained through sun exposure and dietary supplements. Find out if you’re getting enough vitamin D. Fish—such as sardines and other varieties where you eat the bones—offer a good source of calcium.
- Fruits and vegetables are the source of many vitamins and nutrients to support bone health. Eating a varied diet often supplies adequate doses of these critical elements. However, if you don’t eat enough variety, consider adding a multivitamin supplement. Vitamins and nutrients beneficial for your bones include:
- Calcium: non-dairy calcium sources include leafy, dark green vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli, okra and collard greens. Magnesium: found in spinach, beet greens, tomatoes, artichokes, raisins, potatoes and nuts.
- Potassium: common sources include potatoes, bananas, nuts, oranges, prunes and papaya.
- Vitamin C: citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons as well as strawberries, pineapples and even brussel sprouts offer healthy doses of this vitamin.
- Vitamin K: found in kale, collard greens, brussel sprouts, spinach and turnip greens.
Foods to limit:
- Salt (sodium) depletes calcium in your body and can lead to bone loss. Keep daily sodium intake at or below the recommended daily allowance of 2400 mg.
- Beans—while a good source of protein, calcium and dietary fiber—contain phytates. Phytates prevent your body from absorbing calcium. Soaking beans, draining and cooking in fresh water will reduce the phytates present in the beans.
- Protein is important for your bones, but too much can cause your body to lose calcium. Monitor protein intake and keep it to the recommended daily allowance of 5 ounces for women and 5.5 ounces for men.
- Alcohol in moderation (2-3 drinks a day) is ok; heavy drinking is bad for overall health and often leads to calcium deficiency.
- Caffeinated drinks such as coffee and tea can deplete calcium, drink no more than three cups of coffee per day.
- Sodas, specifically colas containing phosphorus, should be limited because they can lead to bone loss.