Well, for starters, there’s the frequently overlooked mineral magnesium, which helps with muscle contraction and relaxation, and is involved in over 100 reactions in the body including muscle and nerve function and protein synthesis — which, in turn, increases lean muscle mass. Even better: Magnesium intake helps boost lipolysis, a process by which your body releases fat from its stores.
Chances are, if your groceries come with a printed nutrition label — instead of coming from the ground — you’re lacking in this important nutrient. “The amount of magnesium in a food is dependent largely on the amount of nutrients in the soil in which the food is grown, but typically the greatest sources of magnesium include nuts and green leafy vegetables,” says Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN, registered dietitian and founder of Isabel Smith Nutrition.
To round out your diet and ensure you’re getting enough of this essential nutrient, add more of these six foods into your meal plan now.
Almonds are snack time royalty, lavishly praised as one of the top healthy snacks — but are you eating them? They’re not only packed with vital nutrients like magnesium, but also contain a decent amount of healthy unsaturated fats and flavonoids. Due to its nutrient content, a small handful of almonds per day can help protect your heart, fight inflammation, support your immune system and could reduce your cancer risk. Not to mention, studies have also linked the consumption of nuts, like almonds, to weight loss. So get snackin’!
Chard is the leafy green that’s as beautiful as its name is ugly; the big leaf with the vibrant red stem running through it packs plenty of magnesium, as well as antioxidants and other vitamins. These nutrients work together to promote healthy vision, boost immunity and even protect against cancer. It’s also a good source of fiber (like most greens), so it will help beef up your salad, not your waistline.
These naturally sweet nuts boast a who’s who of vital minerals, including copper, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, iron, potassium, selenium and calcium — and that’s in addition to their notable magnesium content. Necessary minerals like these help your body function at its optimal level. Like almonds, cashews are also a great source of healthy fats that will help you feel satisfied and lower your risk for heart disease. Just be sure to stick to a serving size (one ounce or about one small handful) — those healthy fats come with a high calorie price tag.
Spinach has definitely earned some bragging rights when it comes to healthy foods. Aside from being a great source of magnesium, this leafy green boasts an impressive amount of vitamin K — more than most sources — a nutrient vital for blood clotting and bone health. Oh, and we mustn’t forget why Popeye loves this green so much—for the protein. On average, spinach contains about one gram of protein and only seven calories per cup.
Don’t let the fancy name fool you; these soybean pods are a great anytime snack — not just when you’re dining out at a Japanese restaurant — because they’re an excellent source of magnesium, folate and potassium. These nutrients can help lower blood pressure and support heart health, reducing your risk for heart disease. This popular appetizer also boasts a whopping 13 grams of protein per half cup shelled. Spring for fresh edamame in the summer months because it’s in season, and frozen edamame is sure to do the trick year-round. The healthiest way to cook these pods is to boil them, and a small sprinkle of sea salt will go a long way in terms of flavor.
Though most trends seem to pass, kale is one “hot” food that won’t be going anywhere. This veggie comes in a bunch of different forms, but all types are low in calories and high in magnesium, vitamins A, B6 and C, fiber, iron, and calcium. The combination of nutrients support a healthy body inside and out, with benefit ranging from weight loss to healthy skin, healthy bones to good digestion. For the freshest batch, choose leaves that are deeply colored and avoid any that appear wilted or limp at the store.