MountainStar Health - January 15, 2020

Magnesium may not get as much attention as other nutrients, but it should. This magnificent mineral plays a key role in hundreds of chemical reactions in the body. Found mostly inside cells and bones, magnesium helps produce energy, conduct nerve impulses to the brain, regulate blood sugar and blood pressure, control muscles and keep your heartbeat in sync.

Despite its importance, almost half of Americans fail to meet the daily value (DV) for magnesium set by the USDA, according to research in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Older adults - especially those with diabetes, kidney disease or gastrointestinal disorders—may have the most trouble reaching the recommended DV because aging bodies have increased difficulties absorbing magnesium.

Having low magnesium levels can raise your risk of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. So, what’s the best way to add magnesium to your diet? Add these foods to your plate.

Leafy greens

Dark greens such as kale, spinach, Swiss chard and mustard greens are high in magnesium and other essential vitamins and minerals. A single cup of cooked spinach contains 39% of your daily recommended intake.

Whole fruit

Bananas and avocados are good sources of magnesium and potassium, another mineral that promotes heart health. Bored with bananas? Opt for cantaloupe, tangy grapefruit or dried fruit like figs, prunes or dates.

Nuts and seeds

A handful of almonds or cashews provides up to 20% of the DV of magnesium. Mix with seeds for a filling trail mix rich in magnesium; just two tablespoons of pumpkin seeds contain 25% of your DV!

Soybeans

A half-cup of shelled edamame (young soybeans) contains 13% of the DV of magnesium as well as lots of fiber and protein. Edamame is an easy add-in to stir-fry or soups. Or boil the pods and top with a dash of sesame oil and sea salt.