Magnesium is like an indispensable employee with many talents supporting the whole system in a variety of ways. In your body, it is involved in a whopping 300 essential metabolic reactions. It plays a role in maintaining bone density and healthy arteries and is important for energy production and protein synthesis.
Getting sufficient magnesium in your diet can reduce your risk of many conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. It is integral to bone health as it is an important structural component of your bones and is involved in bone mineral metabolism.
Another important role that magnesium plays is that it supports the normal, healthy dilation of your arteries. With heart disease or atherosclerosis, there is dysfunction and inflammation occurring in the walls of your arteries. This makes it more difficult for your arteries to dilate (expand) properly when needed. If the arteries are constricted (due to plaque or other factors) and not able to dilate sufficiently, this could potentially lead to a heart attack or stroke. Getting sufficient magnesium in your diet can improve dilation of your arteries to help prevent such dramatic events.
Despite all of these health-supporting and disease-reducing attributes, only about half of all American adults get enough magnesium in their diet to meet their needs. We can do better! The good news is that magnesium is readily available in a variety of whole plant foods.
Foods that are a great source of magnesium include:
- Nuts: brazil nuts, cashews, almonds
- Dark leafy greens: spinach, Swiss chard
- Whole grains: brown rice, shredded wheat
- Legumes: lima beans, chickpeas, peanuts
Strengthen and increase the resilience of your bones and your cardiovascular system – starting today! Think about your own diet and how you might include a variety of these foods into your meals and snacks throughout the day.
Curious how to incorporate more magnesium into your own life? Book a session with our dietitian!
Blog Post written by Lisa Henderson, MS, RDN