Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Feeling healthy in your bones:

Building bone health starts as a baby and just keeps going.
By Motherpedia
Date: May 31 2013
Editor Rating:

It's World Milk Day tomorrow, and Australian women are urged to consume more dairy food than ever before. Dairy foods have long been synonymous with good health, with evidence showing that consumption of milk, yoghurt and cheese helps with blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and bone health. 

More than 1 million Australians are affected with osteoporosis, a condition in which the bones become fragile and brittle potentially leading to a higher risk of fractures. It occurs when bones lose minerals such as calcium, more quickly than the body can replace them, in turn leading to a loss of bone density.

But the good news is you can probably do something about it!

Diet and exercise play critical roles in building and maintaining good bone health for people at every life stage – from infancy through to adulthood.

Osteoporosis is avoidable for many of those at risk. By maintaining a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, doing regular weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises and following medical treatments as prescribed, bones can be protected. The three top areas to address are:

1.  ensure you get adequate calcium intake

2.  ensure you have normal vitamin D levels as this helps to absorb the calcium, and 

3.  to undertake some form of regular exercise which is both weight bearing, meaning you do it on your feet, and provides resistance, such as lifting weights.

While calcium supplements and vitamin D tablets are readily available, it is possible for most people to have adequate stores of both from a healthy diet.

"When we think about building strong bones, we must think food first," says actor Zoe Carrides who is an ambassador for Osteoporosis Australia.

"Calcium, vitamin D, lean protein, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats are the building blocks for creating strong bones for people of all ages. These are ingredients that I'm passionate about using when I cook.”

And for something different, here’s a quick and simple bone-healthy recipe for a sardine sandwich from chef Todd Gray of Equinox Restaurant in Washington DC.

Harri’s Sardine Sandwich with Mustard and Yoghurt Butter

Make sure to use the sardines with the bones in and packed in oil. The bones are so small you don't even notice them, but they add calcium and the oil is packed with powerful Omega-3s. You should get 4 sandwiches out of this.


4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (substitute with margarine if you wish)

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 teaspoons whole grain mustard

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2  cup non-fat Greek style yogurt

8 slices rye bread

Two 100g cans sardines (oil-packed), bones in

½ cup very thinly sliced red onions

8 soft, sweet lettuce leaves


Make the mustard butter: 

With a fork, cream the butter in a small bowl or glass measuring cup. Mix in the mayonnaise, mustards and yogurt. Taste, and add salt and pepper if you wish—the amount will depend on your preference and the seasoning of the mustards you start with.

Assemble the sandwiches: 

Toast the bread. Arrange all 8 slices on a work surface; spread some of the mustard and yogurt butter on each. Top each of 4 slices with a lettuce leaf and add the sardines and then the onions, dividing both equally. Top with another lettuce leaf and slice of bread. Cut each sandwich in half and serve.


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