Magnesium

Magnesium, heard of it but unsure why it is important?  It plays a big role in a lot of different processes within the body & is the 4th most abundant mineral in the body. 

Magnesium is a truly multipurpose mineral.  THINK: energy creation (conversion of food to energy); protein formation (creation of new proteins from amino acids); gene maintenance (create & repair DNA & RNA); muscle movements (helps with contraction & relaxation of muscles): & nervous system regulation (regulates neurotransmitters which send messages between your brain & nervous system).  Plus of course, many more.

OK, given that it is involved in so many processes it isn’t surprising it is amongst the bodies go-to’s.  There are numerous symptoms of magnesium deficiency, some of the common symptoms are listed below, (but again, there are many more).

👉 Leg cramps & muscle pain 👉 Insomnia 👉 Anxiety 👉 High blood pressure

👉 Fatigue 👉 Migraines & headaches 👉 Irritability

Good news though – magnesium is easy to get from a big variety of food sources.  Here is a top 10 list of magnesium rich foods & of course, I’ve popped in some ideas on how to include them in your diet.

# 1 Dark Green Leafys

Honestly, dark green leafys are rich in a variety of vitamins & minerals, so there are a heap of health benefits to be had.

👉 Where can I get it? (Examples per 100g serving)

Kale 33mg / Spinach 74mg / Swiss chard 81mg

How do I get that into my diet?  Try some of these:

💡 Try a salad.  Mix in some rocket, baby spinach, watercress & romaine lettuce.

💡 Sauté them with olive oil, garlic & season with salt & pepper or a squeeze of lemon.  Try it with bok choy, baby spinach, or Swiss chard; it’s an easy add to pastas, frittatas or with meatballs.

💡 Add a handful to your soup in the last few minutes.  A large handful wilts down quickly, try with kale, baby spinach, or Swiss chard.

💡 Make it a wrap using the leaves.  Butter lettuce is a great option for this.  Fill with hummus, grated carrot, chopped cucumber, tomatoes & some feta, then roll it up like a burrito.

#2 Nuts

Are a great choice! These are an easy add into your diet with loads of choices.

👉 Are they all the same? (Examples per 100g serving)

Brazil nuts 350mg / Cashews 250mg / Peanuts 160mg / Walnuts 150mg / Hazelnuts 160mg. 

Special shoutout to almonds at 260mg although technically not a nut but the seed of the almond fruit.

Here are some ideas on how to get them in your diet?

💡 Sprinkle chopped nuts on your yoghurt, soup or salad.

💡 Make your own trail mix with all your favourites. THINK: dry roasted almonds & pecans, pumpkin seeds, some sulphur free dried apricots, some popcorn or dark chocolate, with a sprinkle of cinnamon &/or sea salt.

💡 Toast them & add to your vegies.

💡 Nut butter & apple slices…delish!

#3 Seeds

👉 Hmm, which seeds? (Examples per 100g serving)

Pumpkin seeds 535mg / Flax seeds 392mg / Sesame seeds 340mg / Chia seeds 335mg

Some ideas:

💡 Make a chia pudding or add to your smoothies BONUS chia seeds are also high in omega 3s.

💡 Grind some flax seeds & add to a salad dressing. THINK: water, lemon juice, garlic, flax seed meal & lots of fresh basil.

💡 Add seeds into your crumb mix for a yummy seedy herbed crust on your fish.  I crumble some Ryvita, add garlic, seeds & fresh herbs, sometimes a little mustard…. delish!

💡 Roast some pumpkin seeds (200C oven for approx. 10minutes, just toss in some oil & your favourite spices).  Use as a salad or soup topper, mix in with nuts or popcorn.

💡 Make your own dukkha to sprinkle over your roast vege.

#4 Whole grains

There are a lot of easy substitutes in the supermarket these days which make it easy to add whole grains into your everyday.

👉 What grains do I mean? (Examples per 100g serving)

Buckwheat 221mg / Bulgur 33mg / Wild rice 32mg / Whole oats 24mg

There are a lot of ways to get whole grains into your diet, here are just a few ideas:

💡 Swap in whole grain substitutes in the pantry.  THINK: flour, pasta or cereals. 

💡 Stuff a capsicum, tomato or zucchini boat with wild rice & other sauteed vegetables (pumpkins, onion & garlic are a great combo).

💡 Porridge or overnight oats for breakfast with some fresh fruit.

#5 Avocado

A great source of magnesium & loaded with plenty of other goodies too!  Avocados are high in monounsaturated oleic acid, a heart healthy fat.  Plus, they are also high in fibre making them great for digestive health & regularity. 

👉 Example per 100g serving

Avo 27mg

Honestly, I think these are delish by themselves, but if you need some more ideas:

💡 Add into your garden salad … easy peasey

💡 On toast with some fetta & tomato

💡 Make up a guac & dip into it with fresh vegies

💡 Add into your smoothie

💡 A sneaky addition in desserts, try it in chocolate cakes, brownies, or even a mousse.  It mixes well with dark chocolate.

Seriously, yummo!
📷  Photo by Gaby Yerden on Unsplash

#6 Dark chocolate

You need to aim for 70% cocoa content or higher (just remember to keep your serving size small as it still contains sugar & fats).  Dark chocolate also contains flavanols, which are antioxidants that help the brain, improve blood flow & lower inflammation.

👉 Per 100g serving

Dark chocolate up to 120mg / Raw cacao 507mg

OK, honestly, I didn’t think you needed any ideas for this one!

#7 Bananas

These are better known for their potassium levels, but they are also great for magnesium & fibre.  Bananas are an ideal pick me up when you are feeling sluggish in the afternoon PLUS they are super portable!  Winning.

👉 Per 100g serving

Banana 35mg

There is a lot to love about bananas & they are an easy add in, try some of these ideas.

💡 Add as a yoghurt or brekky cereal topper … delish!

💡 Great in smoothies.  In a blender add banana, milk, yoghurt & ice, pour into a glass & sprinkle with nutmeg.

💡 Make your own “nice cream”.  Freeze banana chunks, then blitz until smooth, add in extra flavours (THINK: berries, vanilla, cacao powder, even a swirl of nut butter), this will give you a soft serve texture.

💡 Bananas are also a great substitute for sugar in baking THINK: cakes, muffins & biscuits.

#8 Fish

Oily fish is known for being rich in omega 3 fatty acids, but did you know it is also great for magnesium?  It is also a great lean protein, rich in vitamin A & D. Try & include fish a couple of times a week.

👉 Fish options (Examples per 100g serving)

Tuna 50mg / Salmon 25mg / Trout 30mg / Mackerel 60mg / Herring 30mg / Sardines 39mg

Special mention for some shellfish too!

Prawns 51mg / Crab 25mg

Some inspo to get it into your diet.

💡 Make a Niçoise salad, using mackerel or tuna.

💡 Add salmon to your pasta.  Try linguine, lemon, dill, red onion & chunks of salmon.

💡 Fire up the BBQ & grill some fish or prawns, maybe try some kebabs.

💡 Plenty of cultures feature fish or seafood in their recipes THINK: Spanish paella, Japanese sushi, an Indian Goan fish curry or Vietnamese fish hot pot.  Google up some recipe inspo with your favourite flavours!

#9 Legumes

A lot of us grew up with baked beans for brekky or three bean mixes as a BBQ salad staple; & that was our only bean exposure.  Whether you opt for dry or tinned, have a think about the styles of eating you like.  Love those South American & Mexican flavours, kidney beans are great; more a fan of Middle Eastern recipes, then chickpeas are an easy add; or are you more a Mediterranean inspired person, then butter beans or cannellini beans hold lots of options.

👉 Where can I get it (Examples per 100g serving)

Soybeans 230mg / Lentils 82mg / Chickpeas 27mg / Kidney beans 140mg / Split peas 85mg

Need more ideas?

💡 Add to soups or stews.  Our pumpkin soup will often have red lentils or butter beans blitzed into it.

💡 Use pureed beans as a dip base.  Try a white bean puree or make a hummus with chickpeas

💡 Try beans in your salad.  Kidney beans in a Greek salad or Mexican salsa are great!

#10 Tofu

Tofu is made from condensed soy milk that is pressed into solid blocks.  The process is pretty similar to cheesemaking.  Whilst tofu is magnesium rich, it is also a good source of calcium, phosphorous, B vitamins & iron.  Often seen as a vegetarian choice BUT it has traditionally been used in a lot of Asian dishes for centuries. 

👉 Example per 100g serving

Tofu 78mg

Need some inspo?

💡 Marinate slices, tofu has no distinct taste, but it soaks up flavours well. Try it baked or grilled.

💡 Silken tofu will add creaminess, so blend into salad dressings or creamy sauces, even puddings.

💡 Add it to a stir fry or a curry.

There are many more foods which also contain magnesium, but these are easily accessible at supermarkets & Farmer’s markers, plus they offer good amounts of magnesium.  Make sure you are getting some at every meal, it is an easy inclusion & your body will love it.

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Published by Shân

I am incredibly passionate about food and its healing power – it is pretty amazing how what you eat affects how your body works! In fact, I was so fascinated, I went & got myself a degree in it – a Bachelor of Health Science (Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine). Now in all honesty I don’t eat or live a perfect lifestyle, nor will I ever pretend I do. Realistically I know you won’t be perfect either. And that’s OK. As a Clinical Nutritionist I focus on what we eat and how this has an impact on our health and wellness – everyday.

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