Magnesium is a mineral that plays a big role in making your body work right. More than 300 chemical reactions inside you depend on the mineral.
Without it, your muscles can’t move the way they’re supposed to. Your nerves won’t send and receive messages. Magnesium also keeps your heart rhythm steady, blood sugar levels balanced, and your joint cartilage healthy. It helps your body make protein, bone, and DNA.
Your body doesn’t make magnesium on its own. The amount you need depends on your age and gender. If you’re a woman age 19 or older, you need 310 milligrams (mg) a day – 350 mg if you’re pregnant. If you’re an adult man under age 30, you need 400 mg a day. After 30, men need 420 mg.
It’s always best to get magnesium from food, but you can also get it from multivitamins and supplements. Too much, though, can cause nausea, stomachcramps, or diarrhea. In extreme cases, it could cause an irregular heartbeat or cardiac arrest.
Don’t take a magnesium supplement if you have certain conditions, such as:
- Heart block
- Kidney failure
- Bowel obstruction
- Myasthenia gravis
If you get too much magnesium from food, your kidneys will remove it through your urine. Your kidneys will also balance out your magnesium levels if you don’t get enough of it for a little while.
Certain conditions like Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, type 2 diabetes, alcoholism, and chronic diarrhea can give your body a long-term shortage of magnesium. Common symptoms include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue.
Leafy green vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and fish are the best ways to keep healthy levels of magnesium in your body.
Here are 10 healthy foods that are high in magnesium.
1. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is as healthy as it is delicious.
It’s very rich in magnesium, with 64 mg in a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving — that’s 16% of the RDI.
Dark chocolate is also in high in iron, copper and manganese and contains prebiotic fiber that feeds your healthy gut bacteria.
What’s more, it’s loaded with beneficial antioxidants. These are nutrients that neutralise free radicals, which are harmful molecules that can damage your cells and lead to disease.
Dark chocolate is especially beneficial for heart health, as it contains flavanols, which are powerful antioxidant compounds that prevent “bad” LDL cholesterol from oxidising and sticking to the cells lining your arteries.
To make the most of dark chocolate’s benefits, choose a product containing at least 70% cocoa solids. A higher percentage is even better.
The avocado is an incredibly nutritious fruit and a tasty source of magnesium. One medium avocado provides 58 mg of magnesium, which is 15% of the RDI (7).
Avocados are also high in potassium, B vitamins and vitamin K. And unlike most fruits, they’re high in fat — especially heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.
In addition, avocados are an excellent source of fiber. In fact, 13 of the 17 grams of carbs in an avocado come from fiber, making it very low in digestible carbs.
Studies have shown that eating avocados can reduce inflammation, improve cholesterol levels and increase feelings of fullness after meals.
Nuts are nutritious and tasty.
Types of nuts that are particularly high in magnesium include almonds, cashews and Brazil nuts.
For instance, a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of cashews contains 82 mg of magnesium, or 20% of the RDI.
Most nuts are also a good source of fiber and monounsaturated fat and have been shown to improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels in people with diabetes.
Brazil nuts are also extremely high in selenium. In fact, just two Brazil nuts provide more than 100% of the RDI for this mineral.
Additionally, nuts are anti-inflammatory, beneficial for heart health and can reduce appetite when eaten as snacks.
Legumes are a family of nutrient-dense plants that include lentils, beans, chickpeas, peas and soybeans.
They’re very rich in many different nutrients, including magnesium.
For instance, a 1-cup serving of cooked black beans contains an impressive 120 mg of magnesium, which is 30% of the RDI.
Legumes are also high in potassium and iron and a major source of protein for vegetarians.
Because legumes are rich in fiber and have a low glycemic index (GI), they may lower cholesterol, improve blood sugar control and decrease heart disease risk.
A fermented soybean product known as natto is considered an excellent source of vitamin K2, which is important for bone health.
Tofu is a staple food in vegetarian diets due to its high protein content. Made by pressing soybean milk into soft white curds, it’s also known as bean curd.
A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving has 53 mg of magnesium, which is 13% of the RDI.
One serving also provides 10 grams of protein and 10% or more of the RDI for calcium, iron, manganese and selenium.
Additionally, some studies suggest that eating tofu may protect the cells lining your arteries and reduce your risk of stomach cancer.
Seeds are incredibly healthy.
Many — including flax, pumpkin and chia seeds — contain high amounts of magnesium.
Pumpkin seeds are a particularly good source, with 150 mg in a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving.
This amounts to a whopping 37% of the RDI.
In addition, seeds are rich in iron, monounsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids.
What’s more, they’re extremely high in fiber. In fact, nearly all of the carbs in seeds come from fiber.
They also contain antioxidants, which protect your cells from harmful free radicals produced during metabolism.
Flaxseeds have also been shown to reduce cholesterol and may have benefits against breast cancer.
Find flax, pumpkin, and chia seeds online.
7. Whole Grains
Grains include wheat, oats and barley, as well as pseudocereals like buckwheat and quinoa.
Whole grains are excellent sources of many nutrients, including magnesium.
A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of dry buckwheat contains 65 mg of magnesium, which is 16% of the RDI.
Many whole grains are also high in B vitamins, selenium, manganese and fiber.
In controlled studies, whole grains have been shown to reduce inflammation and decrease heart disease risk.
Pseudocereals like buckwheat and quinoa are higher in protein and antioxidants than traditional grains like corn and wheat.
What’s more, they’re gluten-free, so people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity can enjoy them, too.
8. Some Fatty Fish
Fish, especially fatty fish, is incredibly nutritious.
Many types of fish are high in magnesium, including salmon, mackerel and halibut.
Half a fillet (178 grams) of salmon packs 53 mg of magnesium, which is 13% of the RDI.
It also provides an impressive 39 grams of high-quality protein.
In addition, fish is rich in potassium, selenium, B vitamins and various other nutrients.
A high intake of fatty fish has been linked to a decreased risk of several chronic diseases, particularly heart disease.
These benefits have been attributed to the high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
Bananas are among the most popular fruits in the world.
They’re best known for their high potassium content, which can lower blood pressure and is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.
But they’re also rich in magnesium — one large banana packs 37 mg, or 9% of the RDI.
In addition, bananas provide vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese and fiber.
Ripe bananas are higher in sugar and carbs than most other fruits, so they may not be suitable for people with diabetes.
However, a large portion of the carbs in unripe bananas is resistant starch, which doesn’t get digested and absorbed.
Resistant starch may lower blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation and improve gut health.
10. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens are extremely healthy, and many are loaded with magnesium.
Greens with significant amounts of magnesium include kale, spinach, collard greens, turnip greens and mustard greens.
For instance, a 1-cup serving of cooked spinach has 157 mg of magnesium, or 39% of the RDI.
In addition, they’re an excellent source of several nutrients, including iron, manganese and vitamins A, C and K.
Leafy greens also contain many beneficial plant compounds, which help protect your cells from damage and may reduce cancer risk.
As you can see, magnesium is an important mineral that you may not be getting enough of. Thankfully, many delicious foods will give you all the magnesium you need. Make sure to eat a balanced diet and up your intake of the foods listed above to keep your health robust and your body satisfied.