Magnesium tends to get overlooked when the spotlight shines on better-known minerals such as calcium and potassium, but it plays a crucial role in keeping your heart, muscles, and bones healthy and strong! It is one of the body’s most important electrolytes and has been proven to help with insomnia, depression, migraines, and more.
Check out this article to learn even more about the importance of magnesium. Here are 10 magnesium-rich foods that you should include in your diet on a regular basis, along with several delicious recipe ideas.
This ubiquitous breakfast staple is a superstar in more ways than one, despite its humble-looking appearance. Oats come in multiple varieties depending on how processed they are: oat bran, steel-cut, Scottish, rolled/old-fashioned, and quick-cooking. They are technically gluten-free but are frequently processed in facilities that also manufacture wheat-based products. So if you have celiac disease, or are gluten-intolerant, it’s best to buy oats that are certified gluten-free. Oats (the scientific name being Avena sativa) have been around since the Bronze Age (roughly 2300 BC), and started to be mass-produced in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The nutritional benefits of oats are seemingly endless. They are rich in protein, fiber, and several B vitamins, and 1/2 a cup of rolled oats contains approximately 32% of the recommended daily amount (RDA) of magnesium. The high level of magnesium combined with the soluble and insoluble fiber makes oats a heart-healthy food in many ways! For recipe ideas, check out these Chocolate, Banana, and Peanut Butter Overnight Oats, perfect for a summer breakfast, or try out this High-Protein Oat Groats and Lentil Salad.
This versatile green veggie is packed with nutrients, and, when cooked properly (soggy, slimy greens are no fun to eat), can, in fact, be delicious! The spinach plant was first referred to in Sasanian Persia between 226 and 640 A.D., and in 647 was taken from Nepal to China. It later became popular in the Mediterranean and other countries in Europe and Asia. Spinach can be consumed either raw or cooked–some of its nutrients (e.g. vitamin C and potassium) are better absorbed when it is raw, while others (e.g. vitamins A and E) are more available when cooked. As a result, it’s best to have a variety! As with most fruits and veggies, the fresher the spinach, the more nutrients it will contain. So avoid purchasing spinach that is wilted or turning brown.
Spinach is also an excellent source of magnesium, with one cup of cooked spinach containing approximately 39% of the RDA. For recipe ideas, try this rich and spicy Tofu Tikki Masala with Mushroom and Spinach, or make some Creamy Spinach Artichoke Pizza, a perfect party food.
3. Pumpkin Seeds
These small seeds are dense in nutrients and can be purchased already roasted and seasoned, or you can choose to indulge in the messy–yet highly satisfying–process of scooping the flesh out from a pumpkin and removing/roasting the seeds yourself! Check out this article for more detailed instructions on how to prepare and cook your own pumpkin seeds. Either way, pumpkin seeds are a valuable and healthy addition to your diet, especially if you’re looking to increase your consumption of some vital minerals. A mere 1/4 a cup of pumpkin seeds contains nearly 50% of the RDA for magnesium, as well as high amounts of zinc and omega-3 fatty acids.
For recipe ideas, check out this Raw Zucchini Pasta with Pumpkin Seeds and Garlic, or make some of this Power Bread with Sunflower Seeds, Flax Seeds, Sesame Seeds, and Pumpkin Seeds.
These rich and tasty nuts come from a tree that is native to Brazil and produces red and yellow “pseudo-fruits” on which the cashew nut attaches. The nut is surrounded by a double shell that in fact contains toxic and corrosive ingredients (including urushiol, found in poison ivy). However, once cashews are roasted and heated, they are perfectly safe to eat, meaning that even cashews labeled “raw” have been heated to some degree.
Due to the toxic ingredients in the shell, it is important to purchase fair-trade certified cashews, as many workers in countries such as India obtain severe burns on their hands from the acid when they are not provided with the proper equipment or protection.
Cashews are rich in healthy fats, copper, and phosphorus, and 1/4 a cup of cashews contains nearly 30% of the RDA of magnesium, making them a nutritious and heart-healthy snack. They are quite versatile and, when soaked overnight, can be used as the basis for many creamy vegan desserts and sauces. For recipe ideas, try these Spicy Golden Turmeric Cashews as a tasty snack, or make some Curried Rice with Raisins and Cashews.
5. Flax Seeds
This nutrient-packed seed originated in Babylon as early as 3000 B.C., and in the 8th century, King Charlemagne required his subjects to consume flaxseed due to his firm belief in the health benefits. Talk about a royal plant! It is best to consume flaxseeds in their ground form (AKA flax meal), as the body does not completely digest whole flax seeds, which prevents you from absorbing all the nutrients.
Flaxseeds are one of the best sources of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, and are also extremely high in fiber, assisting in both digestion and heart health. They are also a good source of magnesium, with 2 tablespoons containing approximately 15% of the RDA. Check out this article to learn even more about the health benefits of flaxseeds!
For recipe ideas, try out these Banana Peanut Butter Breakfast Muffins, or make some hearty Lentil Loaf for a fiber-packed dinner!
6. Dark Chocolate
Turns out dark chocolate isn’t only beneficial for its high levels of antioxidants (and its ability to produce feel-good endorphins)! Although chocolate may seem like a strange addition to this list, what makes chocolate a “junk food” is usually all the additional milk fats and sugar that are added to candy bars and chocolate chips. The cacao tree (Theobroma Cacao) originated in South America and it is from this tree that we harvest the beans that are eventually processed and turned into chocolate. The raw cacao bean is packed with nutrients, including several antioxidants, iron, calcium, and many of the B vitamins.
Dark chocolate retains many of these nutrients since it has a relatively high percentage of cacao and less sugar and fat than milk chocolate. A single square of dark chocolate contains approximately 95 milligrams of dark chocolate, or 24% of the RDA. However, it’s still best to consume dark chocolate in moderation, given that it does contain some processed sugar and fats. Even better, buy some raw cacao powder as well and use that in smoothies or oatmeal to get even more nutrients!
For some rich chocolate-infused recipes, try out this Raw Chocolate and Cherry Mousse Tart, or make some Sweet and Salty Miso Caramel Dark Chocolate Cups.
This creamy green fruit, ever-popular in the vegan community for its healthy fats and rich texture, has been consumed in Mexico for nearly 10,000 years, and was eaten and cultivated by Mesoamerican tribes such as the Olmecs, Incas, and Aztecs. There are several different varieties of avocados, including Gwen, Hass, and Fuerte (Spanish for “strong”). Avocados are packed with several vital nutrients including monounsaturated fats; vitamins A, C, and K; fiber; and antioxidants. They are also a good source of magnesium, containing approximately 58 milligrams per avocado, or around 15% of the RDA.
For recipe ideas, make some Cheesy Tempeh Stuffed Avocados, or, for a cooling summer treat, whip up a Raw Avocado and Cacao Smoothie Shake, packed with antioxidants and energizing nutrients.
8. Black Beans
These fiber- and protein-packed legumes are a must-have staple for any kitchen. They are native to North, Central, and South America, and are now consumed in many places around the world. Dried black beans should be presoaked before cooking: you can either soak them overnight or bring them to a boil and then cover and let soak for a couple hours. After the soaking process, black beans take approximately 1 and 1/2 hours to cook, depending on the desired softness. Nutritionally speaking, black beans are packed with protein, fiber, and antioxidants called anthocyanins. One cup of cooked black beans contains approximately 30% of the RDA for magnesium.
For recipe ideas, make a fancy breakfast of these Sweet Potato and Tofu Breakfast Tacos with Spicy Black Beans, or get ready for a summer cookout with these Tempeh Black Bean Burgers with Creamy Dill Sauce.
9. Peanut Butter
This luscious spread, as it turns out, is chock-full not only of flavor but also valuable minerals–as long as it’s not filled with hydrogenated oils and added sugar! Peanuts are not a nut at all, botanically speaking, but rather a legume, and most likely originated in Brazil or Peru thousands of years ago. They can be roasted, boiled, powdered, or–perhaps most commonly–ground into a delicious spread we call peanut butter. It is important to purchase peanut butter that is all-natural (preferably organic) and doesn’t contain any additives like hydrogenated oils (AKA trans fats) or refined sugar.
Peanut butter is a good source of healthy fats and protein, and 2 tablespoons contain approximately 15% of the RDA for magnesium. And let’s be honest–who only eats two tablespoons?
For delicious peanut butter recipes, feast on this decadent Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Fudge Brownie Cake, or go on the savory side with these Peanut Butter Tofu Banh Mi Bowls.
10. Brazil Nuts
These rich-flavored nuts come from the Bertholletia excelsa tree, which grows in the Amazon rainforest and produces large pods about the size of a baseball, in which Brazil nuts (technically seeds) are stored. The outer shell of the pod is so tough that only one animal, the agouti (a rodent), can break it open with its teeth. Brazil nuts are an excellent source of selenium, protein, vitamins C and E, and healthy fats, and help boost the immune system and improve heart health. 1/3 a cup of Brazil nuts also gives you a hefty 40-50% of the RDA for magnesium, making these nuts a true nutritional powerhouse!
For recipe ideas, make some sweet and creamy Cinnamon Vanilla Brazil Nut Butter, or whip up a batch of these unique Nutty Plum Brownies.
For another great article on the importance of magnesium, check out Feeling Fatigued? Try These 15 Magnesium-Rich Meals That Will Have You Coming Back for Seconds. Also, read about How A Plant-Based Diet Can Help Calm Your Nerves.
In addition, don’t forget to download the Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 10,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers can gain access to new recipes every day.
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This content provided above is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.