Calcium and heart disease share a somewhat complicated relationship. On the one hand, calcium has been associated with heart disease prevention, so much so that it is a key component of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. In numerous studies it has shown an inverse relationship with blood pressure: The lower your calcium level, the higher your blood pressure, and hypertension is a known contributor to heart disease.

With that said, calcium is also one of the substances found in plaque, the lesions that can fester along the walls of your blood vessels and trigger a heart attack or a stroke when one of them ruptures and forms a clot. And a 2008 study at the University of Auckland in New Zealand found that among nearly 1,500 postmenopausal participants, the women who took about 1,800 milligrams daily vs. those who consumed 800 milligrams every day faced a heart attack risk that was 1.5 times greater.[1] This research was met with some skepticism, and many experts have urged that women continue to get the recommended amount of 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day to ward off bone loss and heart disease.

It's always best to get nutrients from the source rather than in pill form, so here are four ways you can add more calcium to your day:

Breakfast: Providing anywhere from 350 to 450 milligrams of calcium per eight-ounce serving, low-fat yogurt is probably the best morning meal in terms of heart-disease- preventing calcium content; also, the active cultures in yogurt have been shown to lower levels of LDL, or bad cholesterol. You can also try skim milk in your coffee or cereal; an eight-ounce serving has almost 300 milligrams. And many breakfast cereals and brands of orange juice are calcium-fortified.

Lunch: Everything goes better with cheese, even a heart-disease-fighting lunch. Just make sure the one-and-a-half-ounce serving you add to your salad, which should appear to be about the size of a golf ball, or the slice you add to your sandwich is made with skim or 2-percent milk.

Mid-afternoon snack: With 75 milligrams of calcium goodness and bad-cholesterol-busting monounsaturated fats to boot, almonds make a good heart-disease-evading snack. A bowl of edamame—also known as steamed soybeans—are even better, giving you 175 milligrams of calcium and boosting your HDL, or good cholesterol. Just be weary of the amount of salt you add. If you're craving something sweet, at 150 milligrams of calcium and an equal amount of calories, chocolate pudding made from skim milk is a treat you can afford.

Dinner: If you can stomach it , you can construct a monstrously calcium-rich slice of pizza by adding sardines and broccoli, which offers 324 milligrams per three-ounce serving and 180 milligrams per cup, respectively. Otherwise, you can settle for a plate of assorted shellfish—most of which are not only calicium rich, but delicious as well.

[1] Mark J Bolland, Vascular events in healthy older women receiving calcium supplementation: randomised controlled trial; BMJ, doi: 10.1136/bmj.39440.525752.BE, (Published 15 January 2008);