The Healthy Magnesium-Rich Foods (That You Should Be Eating On The Reg)

mbg Health Contributor By Gretchen Lidicker, M.S.
mbg Health Contributor
Gretchen Lidicker earned her master’s degree in physiology with a focus on alternative medicine from Georgetown University. She is the author of “CBD Oil Everyday Secrets” and “Magnesium Everyday Secrets.”
Expert review by Jessica Cording, M.S., R.D., CDN
Registered Dietitian
Jessica Cording, M.S., R.D., CDN, INHC is a registered dietitian, health coach, and writer with a passion for helping people streamline their wellness routine and establish a balanced relationship with food and exercise.

Image by Ali Harper / Stocksy

If you haven't already, it's time you read up on the many benefits of magnesium. This mineral is a cofactor in more than 300 enzymatic reactions in the body that control everything from blood sugar balance and blood pressure regulation to nerve function, DNA synthesis, and energy production—which is my super-science-y way of saying magnesium is really, really important. You need to consume enough magnesium in your diet to make sure you're not deficient, which can be done in the form of a supplement or, even better, whole food sources of magnesium.

But what are those? And how much do we actually need to eat? Here are the ins and outs of dietary magnesium, starting with how much magnesium you should be eating in the first place.

Here's how much magnesium we should be eating.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for magnesium is 400 to 420 mg for men and 310 to 320 mg for women. Many integrative and functional medicine doctors argue that as a society, we're not coming close to that number. As Will Cole, D.C., IFMCP, wrote for mbg, "Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in your body yet one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in America. In fact, between 50 and 90 percent of people lack enough of this vital nutrient."

This is true for many reasons, including the mineral depletion that's occurring in our soil, our use of over-the-counter and prescription medications that deplete our body of magnesium, and chronic gut issues that prevent magnesium from being absorbed in the first place. Ugh.

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Which foods are highest in magnesium?

The bad news is that we're all at risk for magnesium deficiency. The good news is that magnesium-rich foods are healthy, easily available, and most importantly—delicious. As Ilene Ruhoy, M.D., Ph.D., integrative medicine doctor and mindbodygreen Collective member, explained, "There are many great food sources of magnesium, and increasing your dietary intake is preferred as these foods are part of an overall healthy diet for more than just their magnesium content."

According to Harvard Health Publishing, the food that comes in with the highest magnesium content is bulgur, a Middle Eastern cereal food made from the cracked groats of several different wheat species. In its dry form, it contains about 230 mg in a single cup.

If bulgur isn't a staple in your diet, don't despair. There are plenty of other magnesium-rich foods. "I recommend a diet high in legumes, whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, almonds, and pumpkin and sesame seeds. These foods have significant amounts of elemental magnesium," said Ruhoy.

The best magnesium-rich foods.

In that spirit, let's get into the nitty-gritty of the richest dietary sources of magnesium and how to incorporate them into your daily routine.

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1. Leafy greens

Leafy greens are arguably the healthiest food on the planet. They're rich in vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and detox- and hormone-supporting compounds. One cup of cooked spinach contains 157 mg of magnesium, which is more than 50 percent of your RDA if you're a woman. If you're looking to eat more greens but aren't sure where to start, check out these 15 Super-Simple Recipes To Help You Eat More Greens.

2. Avocado

Calling all millennials! I have great news: One medium avocado contains about 58 mg of magnesium, which gives you about 15 percent of your RDA. Smear that on some sourdough toast, sprinkle with some hemp and pumpkin seeds, and you have yourself a high-magnesium breakfast of champions.

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3. Nuts

If you're eating a plant-based diet, chances are nuts are already a staple. They're high in protein and healthy fats and the perfect snack to bring on the go. They're also high in magnesium; 1 ounce of cashews contains 74 milligrams of magnesium, and while they're *technically* not a nut, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter contains 50 mg of magnesium.

4. Seeds

This might be my favorite food on the list. Nuts get a lot of attention for their healthy benefits and convenience factor, but seeds shouldn't be left out of the spotlight! My favorite seeds are pumpkin seeds and hemp seeds, which just happen to be very high in magnesium. In fact, 1 ounce of hemp seeds contains about 179 mg. Pumpkin seeds are a close second at 156 mg. If you're not into sprinkling seeds on your salads or yogurt, try making homemade pumpkin or hemp seed milk instead.

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5. Legumes

Ahh, legumes. The magical fruit! Foods like black beans and lentils are healthy not just for their magnesium content—which for the record come in around 120 and 71 mg per cup, respectively—they're packed with other nutrients as well. As Leah Silberman, R.D., wrote for mbg, "Beans boast a magnificent nutrient profile. They are packed with micronutrients like folic acid, copper, potassium, iron, zinc, and various B vitamins, and contain phytochemicals like lignans and polyphenols."

6. Dark chocolate

Last but not least—and luckily for us!—dark chocolate is also on the list of high-magnesium foods. This feels too good to be true: Does chocolate really have a large enough dose of magnesium that it could positively affect your health? One ounce of dark chocolate contains 64 mg of magnesium—about 15 percent of the RDA—so it won't get you your full daily dose, but it will get you part of the way there.

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How to eat more magnesium-rich foods.

If you're new to plant-based eating and aren't sure how to start incorporating these magnesium-rich foods into your day, you're not alone. A great place to start is a morning smoothie that contains a plethora of magnesium-rich foods. Try avocado, cacao powder, spinach, and nut milk for a super dose of magnesium first thing in the morning.

Whether it be through a supplement capsule, Epsom salt bath, or spinach omelet—make sure you're taking advantage of the many benefits of magnesium by eating plenty of magnesium-rich foods, like avocado, black beans, and spinach.

Ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.

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