Magnesium is one of the most important -- and yet often overlooked -- nutraceutical required for a healthy body and mind. Magnesium plays an important role in more than 300 biochemical reactions and processes in the body (1), but despite its importance, many people fail to get enough of the mineral in their regular diet. In fact, some reports estimate that as many as 80% of Americans don't get enough of this important mineral. (2)
Magnesium helps keep the immune system healthy, fights depression, helps prevent high blood pressure and muscle twitches like restless leg syndrome and reduces your risk of migraine headaches. (3) Some experts say the mineral may also play an important role in preventing Alzheimer's disease and colon cancer. (4)
So how can you make sure that you're getting enough magnesium in your diet? By adding a few foods that are super-rich in this vitally important mineral. Here's a list of the top 10 magnesium-rich foods to help you get started:
- Greens: Green, leafy vegetables like spinach, Swiss chard, and turnip and beet greens contain from 31 mg to 156 mg of magnesium for every one-cup serving (spinach contains the most, turnip greens the least). Eating these greens raw in salads or lightly steamed are the best ways to ensure that you're maximizing your nutrient intake.
- Seeds and nuts: When it comes to magnesium content, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds pack a punch, ranging from 113 mg (sunflower) to 192 mg (pumpkin) or more per quarter-cup serving. Cashews provide 117 mg of magnesium, and almonds offer about 62 mg of the mineral each per quarter-cup serving.
- Organic tempeh: This soy product not only proves itself a versatile ingredient in the kitchen but also provides about 87 mg of magnesium per 4-ounce serving. A cup of raw soybeans offers a little less than twice that amount at 147 mg.
- Organic tofu: If you like the idea of eating more soybeans, but tempeh just isn't your thing, you can still get soy's boost of magnesium by consuming tofu, which offers about 66 mg of magnesium per 4-ounce serving.
- Cacao: Ounce per ounce, cacao is one of the world's richest sources of magnesium. Name sound unfamiliar? Scramble the letters a bit -- cacao is what we get cocoa and chocolate from. Its real name is Theobroma cacao, its genus name literally meaning "food of the gods." Cacao contains nearly 100 milligrams of magnesium for every 1-ounce serving, or 272 milligrams per 100 grams of cacao. The beans also contain a significant amount of other important nutrients, including powerful antioxidants which can battle the effects of aging.
- Quinoa: This ancient grain contains the most magnesium, offering about 118 mg of the nutrient per three-quarter-cup serving. Not crazy about quinoa? Buckwheat and oats are other good grain sources of magnesium, containing 86 mg per 1-cup serving of buckwheat and 69 mg per quarter-cup serving of oats.
- Summer squash: This nutrient-rich veggie can be prepared in a variety of ways, making it a pleasing choice for many different tastes and palates. Low in calories, summer squash still offers a good source of magnesium -- about 43 mg per one-cup serving. Winter squash offers about 27 mg for the same size serving. Other good veggie sources: beets, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, offering 39 mg, 33 mg and 31 mg of magnesium per 1-cup serving, respectively.
- Raspberries: If you love fresh fruit, you have several options to boost your magnesium intake. Raspberries are one of the biggest fruit sources of the mineral, offering about 27 mg per 1-cup serving. Cantaloupe and strawberries both offer about 19 mg per 1-cup serving.
- Black beans: Several types of beans offer high levels of magnesium, with black beans topping the list at about 120 mg per one-cup serving. Navy beans come in second at about 96 mg per 1-cup serving, followed by pinto beans at 86 mg and lima beans at 81 mg per 1-cup serving.
- Seafood: The highest sources of magnesium come from plant sources, but if you really crave some seafood, tuna offers a respectable 48 mg of magnesium per 4-ounce serving, while scallops provides 42 mg of the mineral for the same size serving.