I’ve been doing a lot of research on how to eat right. It’s something I’ve known about for around 10 years – mainly because growing up, I was not taught how to eat right. Don’t get me wrong, I ate plenty of broccoli, beans, apples, oranges – food that can typically be viewed as healthy.
But there were many times when we’d eat fast food a few days in a row. It was quick and it was easy. But, now that I’m on the horizon of turning 30, I’ve been trying to change the way I look at food.
Basically, when it comes to eating healthier, the majority of us focus on the negative. What I mean by this is, we’re so concerned about good nutrition, but we concentrate on the foods we can’t eat – generally fat, sugar, and carbs. We obsess about these types of food and this takes away from the foods we should actually be eating. This is probably why so many of us are getting enough nutrients in our diet. According to the Council of Responsible Nutrition, a large percentage of people fall short of the average requirement of many nutrients. These nutrients include:
According to the most recent U.S. Dietary Guidelines, there are seven important nutrients in food that most Americans aren’t getting insufficient amounts:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
Can you name any good sources of calcium? Dairy products, dark greens, oranges, nuts. But, what about any good sources of magnesium? Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
Unlike calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin C, which are nutrients that are constantly being talked about, magnesium doesn’t really get any attention. Which is crazy because this mineral has impressive health benefits. Apparently, magnesium is a key player in preventing a lot of the common health conditions Americans face.
So, what is magnesium?
According to the National Institutes of Health:
“Magnesium is a nutrient that the body needs to stay healthy. Magnesium is important for many processes in the body, including regulating muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure and making protein, bone, and DNA.”
Basically, magnesium is involved in hundreds of chemical reactions throughout our bodies to help us maintain good health. But most people are not reaching the reference daily intake (RDI) of 400 mg.
Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
Magnesium deficiency is also known as hypomagnesemia and is an often overlooked health problem. According to healthline.com, it is estimated that less than 2% of Americans experience magnesium deficiency, but studies have suggested that up to 75% of Americans are not meeting their recommended intake, which is 400–420 mg/day for men and 300–310 mg/day for women.
In the short term, when you aren’t getting enough magnesium, there aren’t a lot of obvious symptoms, especially if you’re healthy to begin with. But, low magnesium levels for a long period of time can lead to magnesium deficiency.
Signs you’re not getting enough magnesium include:
- loss of appetite
Extreme magnesium deficiency can cause numbness, tingling, muscle cramps, seizures, personality changes, and an abnormal heart rhythm.
Sooo, how can you up your intake of magnesium?
Everyday Health website reports that When researchers analyzed the diets of more than 4,000 U.S. adults, they discovered that the top five sources of magnesium were:
- milk (2% and whole)
- French fries (which made the top ten)
Essentially, we’re getting our magnesium from foods that aren’t particularly good sources. Americans basically consume these kinds of foods in large quantities, when they should really be eating magnesium-rich spinach, beans, and almonds – obviously better sources.
So, if your want to be one of those people who are consuming a diet with enough magnesium (let’s be honest, enough nutrients in general), you need to be eating a more wholesome diet. It’s easy to reach your daily needs by implementing foods high in magnesium into your diet. These foods include:
- Dark chocolate: It has about 64 mg of magnesium in a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving. It has beneficial antioxidants and is high in iron, copper, and is good for gut and heart health
- Avocados: One medium avocado has roughly 58 mg of magnesium. They are also an excellent source of potassium and fiber. Avocados help fight inflammation, regulate cholesterol levels, and increase fullness, which is helpful for weight loss.
- Nuts: Nuts are so nutritious and are absolutely delicious. nuts that are especially high in magnesium include almonds, cashews and Brazil nuts. An ounce (28-gram) of cashews contains 82 mg of magnesium.
- Legumes: Legumes, including lentils, beans, peas, and soybeans, are full of nutrients. Just 1 cup of cooked black beans contains 120 mg of magnesium! Legumes are also high in iron and potassium and are one of the main sources of protein for vegetarians.
- Tofu: This vegetarian staple is eaten mainly as a source of protein, but it a serving of has 53 mg of magnesium. Studies also suggest than eating tofu can protect your cells in the lining of your arteries and lower your risk of stomach cancer.
- Seeds: Seeds, like nuts, are incredibly healthy. Seeds high in magnesium include flax, pumpkin, and chia seeds. Pumpkin seeds are an especially good source, with 150 mg in a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving. seeds are also rich in iron, monounsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Whole Grains: Grains generally include wheat, oats and barley, as well as pseudo cereals like buckwheat and quinoa. ounce serving of dry buckwheat contains 65 mg of magnesium. Whole grains are also high in B vitamins, selenium, manganese and fiber.
- Fatty Fish: Fatty fish high in magnesium include salmon, mackerel, and halibut. Fish also has plenty of potassium, selenium, B vitamins and various other nutrients.
- Bananas: Bananas are basically one of the most popular fruits on earth. They’re best known for their high potassium content, which can lower blood pressure and is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. one large banana packs 37 mg of magnesium. Bananas also provide us with vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese and fiber.
- Leafy Greens: We all need to eat more leafy greens, let’s be honest. Magnesium is very healthy, and many are loaded with magnesium. Greens with significant amounts of magnesium include kale, spinach, collard greens, turnip greens and mustard greens. 1 cup of cooked spinach has 157 mg of magnesium
It’s easy for me to read articles on Google and write this blog post and try to learn about why certain nutrients are good for us. Eating a balanced diet and upping your intake of these foods is easier said than done. Nearly nine in ten Americans don’t get enough vitamins and minerals.
Instead of blaming the obesity crisis in America on bad eating habits, perhaps we need to look deeper into the issue.
Check out my next health related blog post on this topic. And if you like what I have to say, feel free to follow me on social media: