Magnesium is a key dietary nutrient involved in bone development, glycemic control, nerve and muscle cells signaling, and many other fundamental body functions.
This mineral acts as an insulin upregulation agent, and cofactor for several enzymatic reactions that include neuromuscular conduction, metabolism.
Several publications have shown that magnesium is especially beneficial for heart health. Insufficient magnesium intake and subclinical magnesium deficiency can increase the incidence of cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke, heart failure, atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction (1).
Although magnesium is one of the most abundant elements on the planet, Americans of all ages fail to consume adequate amounts of magnesium. In fact, U.S. adults consume at best 300 mg/day which is a lot less than the recommended daily intake.
Dietary intake of magnesium from natural foods can help maintain a healthy balance of this vital mineral. You should follow a well-balanced diet and cut back processed foods, salt, trans fats, refined sugars and flour, all of which are devoid of magnesium.
There are indeed synthetic supplements which are used by nearly half of the U.S. population, but you should not rely on them and focus on obtaining your daily nutrient needs from natural sources. This is particularly because they can have inverse effects, especially in the case of pregnant women.
Here are 18 magnesium-rich foods to help keep your heart healthy.
- Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is a heart-healthy snack that contains several minerals and excellent antioxidants, most notably flavanols. A dark chocolate bar (101 grams) with at least 80% of cocoa content has 605 calories and contains 44% and 58% of the recommended DV for dietary fiber and magnesium, respectively. Eating dark chocolate 5 times a week can decrease the risk of heart disease by up to 57%.
Avocados are packed with beneficial vitamins, minerals, powerful antioxidants and monounsaturated fatty acids that improve cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease. A 3.5 ounce (100 grams) serving of avocado provides you with 29 mg of magnesium, which is roughly 15% of the recommended DV.
Banana is a delicious fruit that does not only boost your athletic performance and helps you lose fat but also lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease. Several clinical trials have shown that banana intake can promote heart health by lowering blood pressure. One large banana (136 grams) contains 3.5 grams of dietary fiber and 9% of the recommended DV for magnesium, and 13% for potassium.
Several sources of evidence have shown that almonds support heart health by providing heart-healthy antioxidants and regulating cholesterol levels. It lowers the oxidation of bad LDL cholesterol which is one of the main risk factors of heart disease. Add one ounce (28 grams) serving to your afternoon snack to get 20% of the recommended DV for magnesium.
This healthy vegetable may be low in calories, but it is rich in vitamins, minerals and plant phytochemicals. One cup (134 grams) of asparagus spears has 37 calories and contains 2.8 grams of dietary fiber and 20% and 4% of the recommended DV for vitamin A and magnesium, respectively. This wide array of nutrients acts as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agents that protect your cells and blood vessels from free radical damage, clean your arteries and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Black Beans
Like many other legumes, black beans are a reliable source of essential nutrients, including folate and magnesium. One-half cup (130 grams) of canned black beans has 109 calories and contains over 8 grams of dietary fiber, 420 mg of potassium and almost 60 mg of magnesium. They are also a good source of quercetin, a flavonoid with well-documented cognitive and heart health benefits.
Artichoke is a highly nutritious vegetable with potent heart health benefits. In fact, it has favorable effects on lipid profile and used in the treatment of dyslipidemia. One large artichoke provides almost 600 grams of potassium, 9 grams of dietary fiber and 24% of the recommended DV for magnesium. In conjunction with potassium, magnesium helps prevent blood clotting and stabilize blood vessels.
This fruit is particularly nutritious because it contains a certain number of key nutrients, including vitamins A, C and K, potassium, fiber, zinc and iron. A 100-gram serving of figs has almost 650 mg of potassium and 17 mg of magnesium. Eating figs as part of a balanced diet can reduce the rise in blood pressure, lower total cholesterol levels and relieve constipation.
- Wheat Bran
Wheat bran is one of the richest sources of a variety of heart-healthy nutrients. Only one cup (58 grams) of wheat bran provides you with 100% of the recommended DV for dietary fiber and roughly 88% for magnesium. Many studies have shown the favorable effects of wheat bran intake on coronary heart disease, blood triglycerides and bone metabolism and development.
- Mackerel Fish
Mackerel is a fatty fish is laden with vitamins, minerals and heart-healthy fats. In fact, one cup (136 grams) of cooked mackerels contains 11 grams of monounsaturated fatty acids, almost 702 mg of potassium and 342%, 271% and 50% of the recommended DV for vitamin D, cobalamin and protein, respectively. Several publications have shown that consumption of fatty fish, such as mackerel, reduces the rates of cardiovascular events.
- Kidney Beans
Like black beans, kidney beans are highly beneficial for heart health. This is particularly due to their richness in essential nutrients which perform several functions to maintain good health. These include vitamin k1, iron, magnesium, potassium, molybdenum, and more. One cup (184 grams) of kidney beans is high in calories with 613 Kcal and contains 46 grams of dietary fiber and 73% and 64% of the recommended DV for potassium and magnesium, respectively.
Peanuts are high in vitamins, minerals, unsaturated fatty acids and polyphenols. A 1-ounce (28.4 grams) serving of peanuts has 161 calories and contains roughly 200 mg of potassium and 11% of the recommended DV for magnesium. They are up there with foods that lower the incidence of cardiovascular disease and boost heart health. This is due to their beneficial effects on lipid profile, insulin resistance and endothelial function.
Rice is a cereal grain that contains a fair amount of nutrients and non-nutrient phytochemicals. One cup (158 grams) of cooked white rice has 206 calories and contains 4.3 grams of protein and 4% of the recommended DV for magnesium. Whole grains, such as rice, have been shown to reduce inflammation and the risk markers of cardiovascular disease thanks to their plant lignans content.
- Herring Fish
In general, Omega 3-rich foods have various benefits for your health. More specifically, the compounds in herring fish are highly beneficial and protective against coronary artery disease. One fillet (143 grams) has 290 calories and contains 33 grams of protein, almost 600 mg of potassium and 14% of the recommended DV for magnesium. Moderate intake of herring fish can also lower blood pressure by increasing the production of nitric oxide.
- Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and healthy phytochemicals. One long sweet potato (130 grams) has 112 calories and contains abundant amounts of vitamin A, almost 438 mg of potassium and 8% of the recommended DV for magnesium. They are often incorporated into low-fat diets to sustain nutritional balance as you lose weight. When it comes to heart health, the antioxidant compounds in sweet potatoes help fight oxidative stress which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Green leafy vegetables like spinach contain a range of key nutrients and plant compounds that contribute to heart health. A 100-gram serving of raw spinach has 6.9 calories and contains almost 24 mg of magnesium, 41.4 mg of Omega 3 fatty acids and 58.2 mcg of folate. The latter contributes to the production of red blood cells that maintain balanced oxygen levels in your heart.
Tofu is packed with essential nutrients and plant compounds such as isoflavones. One-half cup (124 grams) of tofu has 94 calories and contains 150 mg of potassium and 36%, 43% and 9% of the recommended daily intakes for iron, calcium and magnesium, respectively. Tofu consumption helps protect against heart disease due to the fact that estrogen-agonist contained in isoflavones have favorable effects on menopause adverse effects on reproductive tissues.
- Parmesan Cheese
Moderate consumption of dairy products, such as milk, cheese, yogurt and quark, has been shown to support heart health thanks to their high content in vitamin K2 (menaquinone) which reduces the risks of stroke, coronary heart disease and osteoarthritis. More specifically, 100 grams of parmesan cheese provides fair amounts of vitamin K2 and 76% and 110% of the recommended daily values for protein and potassium, respectively.
Kale is a superfood with numerous human health benefits. One cup (67 grams) of chopped kale has only 33 calories and provides sufficient amounts of essential vitamin and minerals, including 133% of the recommended DV for vitamins A and C, 7% for magnesium and 329 mg of potassium. It is also rich in heart-healthy antioxidants which lower total cholesterol levels, increases good HDL cholesterol levels and fight oxidative damage.
Salmon is another fatty fish that is loaded with beneficial compounds, most notable Omega 3 fatty acids and magnesium. A 3-ounce (85 grams) of chinook salmon has only 117 calories and provides 155 mg of potassium and 55% of the recommended DV for cobalamin. The latter has been shown to prevent clogged arteries, support red blood cells formation and lower homocysteine levels in your blood, all of which are linked to heart disease.