Magnesium is essential for numerous body functions including bone health, calcium absorption, metabolism of food, synthesis of fatty acids and proteins, and nerve function. Magnesium deficiency is fairly common and some people do not even realize they lack the nutrient. In addition to eating the wrong foods, excessive alcohol consumption, certain prescription medications, high-sugar diets, over-use of acid inhibitors, and a leaky gut can all contribute to insufficient magnesium.
Chocolate is a great source of magnesium, offering about 226 mg of magnesium per 100 grams or one small chocolate bar. Dark chocolate also provides iron, antioxidants, manganese, copper, and prebiotic fiber, nutrients good for the gut and heart. Of course, eat dark chocolate only in moderation as it has a lot of sugar. Be sure to choose varieties with at least 70% cocoa — otherwise, it’s just candy.
A medium-sized avocado delivers approximately 58 mg or 15% of the daily amount of magnesium. This creamy fruit is also a rich source of vitamin K, B vitamins, and potassium, along with tons of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and fiber. Eating avocados can improve cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and increase feelings of fullness, which can help with weight loss.
Cashews, Brazil nuts, and almonds are rich in magnesium. Cashews alone have 82 mg in a one-ounce serving or 20% of the recommended daily intake. These nuts are also high in selenium, fiber, and monounsaturated fats, which regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Nuts make a great healthy snack that can improve heart health thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. However, be careful not to eat too many nuts, as they are quite high in fat.
Legumes such as lentils, black beans, chickpeas, peas, and soybeans are also high in magnesium. One cup of black beans has a whopping 120 mg of magnesium or 30% of the RDI. They are an excellent source of potassium and iron, as well as an essential protein source for plant-based diets. Legumes are also rich in fiber. All these benefits combined make them a great option for improving blood sugar, lowering cholesterol, and reducing the risk of heart disease.
Tofu is high in protein and magnesium. Also known as bean curd, tofu comes from soybean milk that is pressed into small white curds. A 3.5-ounce serving has 13% of the recommended daily intake or 53 mg of magnesium. Tofu is also packed with calcium, iron, selenium, and manganese. Soy products like tofu may be contraindicated in certain hormone-related illnesses. Also, soy contains a few anti-nutrients that can decrease the absorption of minerals such as calcium, iron, and zinc.
Take your pick: pumpkin, flax, and chia seeds are all healthy. Pumpkin seeds contain an incredible 150 mg of magnesium in a one-ounce serving (about 40-50% RDI). One tablespoon of flax or chia seeds contain approximately 40 mg of magnesium or 15% RDI and, like other foods on this list, they also have plenty of iron, antioxidants, fiber, and monounsaturated fats. Seeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, too.
Wheat, oats, and barley are whole grains. Buckwheat and quinoa are pseudocereals, which are also whole grains. These complex carbohydrates, some of which are gluten-free, are high in protein and antioxidants, and a one-ounce serving of buckwheat contains 65 mg of magnesium, while one cup of oatmeal contains 226mg (which is about 70% RDI) of magnesium. Whole grains can also lower the chance of heart disease.
Fish that are high in magnesium include salmon, mackerel, and halibut. Half a salmon fillet (about 180 grams) has 13% of the recommended daily intake of magnesium. That fillet also contains 39 grams of protein, not to mention B vitamins, selenium, and potassium. Omega-3 fatty acids, which decrease the risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases, are also in salmon.
This yellow fruit is rich in numerous vitamins and nutrients. Bananas are known for their high potassium content, but they also boast around 37 mg of magnesium each. Add manganese, fiber, vitamin B6, and vitamin C, and it’s no wonder this fruit is so popular. Ripe bananas contain more carbohydrates and sugar, whereas unripe ones are considered a resistant starch. This means that the starch remains intact until it gets to the large intestine where it’s broken down by the bacteria in the gut. This makes it a great prebiotic to help improve gut health.
It’s not secret leafy greens have countless health benefits. They are a rich source of iron, manganese, vitamin A, C, and K, and some also contain generous servings of magnesium. For instance, there is almost 40% of the RDI of magnesium in one cup of cooked spinach. Kale is another excellent choice, along with collards, turnips, and mustard greens. Plant compounds found in leafy greens are beneficial to the body’s cells and help protect against cancer and other diseases.
One ounce of raw tamarind provides 26 mg of magnesium or 6% of the daily value. It also contains copious amounts of iron and potassium, which are essential for proper energy metabolism and fluid balance. Tamarind is a popular ingredient in Asian, Indian, and Mexican cuisine. One of the most popular ways to enjoy this fruit is as a tangy but sweet tamarind chutney.
Cooked okra contains 57 mg or 14% DV of magnesium per cup. Popular in Southern cuisine, especially in gumbos, this pod vegetable packs loads of antioxidants, calcium, thiamin, folic acid, zinc, and dietary fiber. These nutrients help fight diabetes, heart disease, digestive conditions, and some cancers. Okra’s protein efficiency ratio exceeds that of soybeans, and its mucilage — the film it develops when cooked — can promote easier elimination of cholesterol and toxins from the liver and waste from the gastrointestinal tract.
Just a three-ounce serving of cooked oysters carries 37 mg of magnesium or 9% DV. The shellfish boasts an illustrious nutritional profile that includes cardioprotective omega-3 fatty acids and highly bioavailable protein. Three ounces also provides over 188% DV of zinc, 114% DV of copper, and small quantities of vitamin D. These nutrients are crucial for protein and DNA synthesis, maintaining healthy bones and tissues, cognitive health, and combating inflammation-driving diseases.
Baked Potatoes with the Skin
A medium baked potato with the skin provides up to 48 mg or 12% DV of magnesium. Despite often being written off as empty starches, potatoes are veritable nutritional powerhouses high in fiber, easily digestible carbohydrates, and various vitamins and minerals. However, the carbohydrates in potatoes are rapidly absorbed and may cause a sharp rise in blood sugar in people with diabetes. Potatoes are also a rich source of vitamins B and C, iron, copper, potassium, phosphorus, and manganese. Most of the nutrients lie just under the skin, so it is best to eat the skin as well as the flesh of this tuber.
A tiny 1.5-ounce serving of raisins provides about 14 mg or 3.5% DV of magnesium. The little dried grapes concentrate a host of bioavailable nutrients including vitamin B6, potassium, iron, and fiber. While satisfying a sweet tooth, raisins carry antioxidants and antimicrobial polyphenols that can suppress the growth of oral bacteria that cause dental caries and gum disease. These tiny morsels may also lower blood pressure with daily consumption, due to their potassium content. Don’t forget each raisin has the sugar of a whole grape, though, so stick to moderate consumption.