Magnesium is an essential mineral required by the body for maintaining normal muscle and nerve function, keeping a healthy immune system, maintaining heart rhythm, and building strong bones. Magnesium is also involved in at least 300 biochemical reactions in the body.
A deficiency in magnesium can lead to muscle spasms, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety disorders, migraines, osteoporosis, and cerebral infarction. Conversely, consuming too much magnesium typically causes diarrhea as the body attempts to excrete the excess. High magnesium foods include dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, whole grains, avocados, yogurt, bananas, dried fruit, dark chocolate, and more. The current daily value (DV) for magnesium is 400 mg.
1. Dark Leafy Greens (Raw Spinach)
(%DV per cup cooked): Swiss Chard (38%), and Kale (19%)
In the nutrition world, dark leafy greens play the role of the ultimate super food, offering up crucial vitamins and minerals as well as a host of health benefits. Choose raw or cooked baby spinach, collard greens, kale, or Swiss chard and you’ll be stocking your body with magnesium for very few calories.
2. Nuts and Seeds (Squash and Pumpkin Seeds)
(%DV per 1/2 cup): Sesame Seeds (63%), Brazil Nuts (63%), Almonds (48%), Cashews (44% DV), Pine nuts (43%), Mixed Nuts (39%), and Peanuts (31%), Pecans (17%), Walnuts (16%).
Just a half cup of pumpkin seeds provides nearly 100 percent of the daily requirement for magnesium. Other nuts and seeds high in magnesium include almonds, sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, cashews, pine nuts, flax-seed, and pecans. Include your favorite nuts in a healthy homemade trail mix; it makes the perfect afternoon snack to keep your energy up and hunger levels down.
3. Fish (Mackerel)
(%DV per 3oz fillet (85g)): Pollock (18% DV), Turbot (14% DV), Tuna (14% DV), and most other fish at an average of 8% DV
In addition to being great sources of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, fish like mackerel, wild salmon, halibut, and tuna will add more magnesium to your menu. Make it a goal to have fish for dinner at least once a week; this tangy Salmon Salad is delicious, easy, and perfect for spring.
4. Beans and Lentils (Soy Beans)
(%DV per cup cooked): White Beans (28%), French Beans (25%), Black-eyed Peas (23%), Kidney Beans (21%), Chickpeas (Garbanzo) (20%), Lentils (18%), Pinto Beans (16%).
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Soybeans are a nutrient-rich legume carrying a high amount of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Snack on a half-cup serving of dry roasted soybeans, which provides nearly half the necessary magnesium for the day, or add shelled soybeans (edamame) to your shopping list. Other legumes rich in magnesium include black beans, kidney beans, white beans, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, and lentils.
5. Whole Grains (Brown Rice)
(%DV per cup cooked): Quinoa (30%), Millet (19%), Bulgur (15%), Buckwheat (13%), Wild Rice (13%), Whole Wheat Pasta (11%), Barley (9%), Oats (7%).
Rice is one of the most important foods in the world, supplying as much as half of the daily calories for half of the world’s population. No wonder that in Asian countries, such as Thailand, rice is so highly valued that the translation of the word “to eat” literally means “to eat rice.” Our food ranking system qualified brown rice as an excellent source of manganese, and a good source of selenium, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, and niacin (vitamin B3)
An average avocado provides 322 calories, half a cup pureed contains 184 calories.
Loaded with multivitamins, heart-healthy nutrients, and disease-thwarting chemical compounds, avocados are one of the most nutritious and versatile produce picks around. Add one sliced avocado to your salad or sandwich at lunch, and you’ll easily consume 15 percent of the recommended daily amount of magnesium.
7. Low-Fat Dairy (Plain Non Fat Yogurt)
(%DV per 100g): Goat Cheese (Hard) (14% DV), Nonfat Chocolate Yogurt (10% DV) and Nonfat Mozzarella (8%).
Magnesium and calcium make a wonderful health duo, because when you’re getting enough magnesium, this makes it easier for your body to absorb calcium and put it to good use. That’s why almost all milk products are recommended for getting more magnesium; roughly 19 milligrams of the mineral are found in one container of low- or nonfat yogurt, which, along with a fiber-rich fruit, makes an easy breakfast choice.
Bananas may be better known for being rich in heart-healthy and bone-strengthening potassium, but a medium-sized banana also provides 32 milligrams of magnesium, along with vitamin C and fiber. At only about 100 calories, this is a foolproof fruit to pop in your bag for a portable breakfast or an easy-on-the-go snack. Of course, many other fruits can add magnesium to your diet, including strawberries, blackberries, grapefruit, and figs.
9. Dried Fruit (Figs)
(%DV per 1/2 cup): Prunes (11%), Apricots (10%), Dates (8%), and Raisins (7%).
“Soft” dry fruit (figs, apricots, raisins, dates, , prunes…) are rich in carbohydrates and low in fat. They are sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals (vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, vitamins E and niacin (PP), iron, magnesium…). The fragility of vitamin C means that there is virtually none in dried fruit.
10. Dark Chocolate
1 square of dark chocolate provides 145 calories.
As if you needed another reason to indulge in rich dark chocolate, it’s also a magnesium-booster. One square of the sweet stuff provides 24 percent of the daily value of magnesium for only 145 calories, in addition to antioxidants that can help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, and boost overall heart health. Paired with fresh fruit, dark chocolate makes a decadent and healthy after-dinner dessert.