As I was harvesting some Swiss chard from my winter garden this morning, it reminded me of how often overlooked and yet valuable the mineral magnesium is. I realize this isn’t something we think about on a regular basis yet it is not only an essential mineral in our diet but we often tend to be deficient in it.
Magnesium is such a major player in our health. It is the single most important mineral for maintaining proper electrical balance and is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body.
It is estimated that 60%-80% of Americans aren’t getting enough magnesium in their diet due to lack of vegetables, poor food choices and farming practices. Supplementation is definitely something to consider and yet the first step really should come from our diet. Amongst the best sources of magnesium are leafy green vegetables, seeds, nuts and legumes. Here are some of the top foods:
- Swiss Chard
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Summer squash like zucchini or crookneck
- Black beans
As for the benefits of magnesium, there are plenty:
- Creates and maintains bone health
- 50%-60% of magnesium is stored in the bone and consequently plays a significant role in bone metabolism
- Adequate magnesium in your diet improves bone mineral density
- Enables energy production as it is a vital component in the production of ATP, a high energy molecule found in every cell
- Low levels of magnesium can be one of the factors in low energy or fatigue
- Maintains a healthy nervous system by working with calcium in forming an electrical current
- Low levels can result in anxiety, irritability, agitation, insomnia and confusion
- It is a vital nutrient in the prevention of chronic inflammation as it modulates cellular events involved in inflammation
- Studies indicate that low levels of chronic inflammation are the cause of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and more
- Enhances control of blood sugars
- Magnesium is a co-factor in over 100 enzymes involved in controlling blood sugar and glucose metabolism
Magnesium is becoming more and more recognized as a vital macro nutrient that we just don’t get enough of. Even medical researchers are recommending increasing the RDA to almost double current amounts.
To start you in the direction of adding magnesium to your diet, here is an easy and delicious salad that will give you lots of magnesium. Quantities are not listed as they will vary based on the number of people enjoying this delicious salad.
- 3 parts Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 part Champagne Vinegar or high quality, aged Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 tsp or more Fish Sauce*
- Fresh ground black pepper
Place above ingredients in a jar with fitted lid. Shake thoroughly.
- Swiss chard, ribs removed
- Kale, ribs removed
- Parsley leaves
- Pumpkin seeds, toasted
- Avocado, sliced
- Red bell pepper, cut to desired shape
- Zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
- Dried apricots cut into long strips
Clean and tear into bite size pieces the first 4 greens and place in salad bowl. Drizzle salad dressing on, mix and set aside for at least 30 minutes. Note: Since these leafy greens are a bit tougher than regular lettuce, this will allow them time to soften and get sweeter.
After 30 minutes add the balance of the ingredients and toss salad. Serve and enjoy!
*Fish sauce is found in most markets in the Asian section and provides the dressing with umami, a savory taste. You don’t need to use a lot. It will have no ‘fish’ taste and yet will give the dressing a more rounded, pleasant taste. Try it, you‘ll love it!
This is just one way to add some wonderful healthy food sources of magnesium into your daily routine. Be creative and see how you can start adding more to make 2016 be even a healthier year!