15 Foods Rich in Magnesium and Their Benefits

Magnesium fulfills determining functions in the body. For example, it helps to improve the quality of sleep. We're going to tell you which foods you can find it in.
15 Foods Rich in Magnesium and Their Benefits
Saúl Sánchez

Written and verified by el nutricionista Saúl Sánchez.

Last update: 11 July, 2023

Magnesium is one of the most essential micronutrients present in the diet. It is a mineral that performs important functions at a physiological level. Maintaining adequate levels of it causes health benefits in the medium term. For this reason, it is essential to know which foods are rich in magnesium.

Keep in mind that one of the pillars of a healthy diet is variety. By including various foods, the risk of developing micronutrient deficits that may negatively condition health status is reduced.

Magnesium benefits

Magnesium is a necessary element for more than 300 different biochemical reactions to take place in the human body. Its most significant functions include its action on the immune system, on the health of nerves and muscles, and on the heartbeat.

There are several studies that link the consumption of magnesium with a greater state of relaxation, which would allow one to achieve a higher quality sleep. An example is a study published in the journal Nutrients. It is often combined with melatonin to enhance this effect and to prevent the development of emotional disturbances.

Ingesting the mineral has also been linked to a lower risk of muscle cramps. Although there is no solid evidence of this function in athletes, it is possible to find trials that show its efficacy in the case of pregnant women. During pregnancy, it’s common to suffer from leg cramps, and the administration of magnesium could reduce their frequency.

In addition, it should be noted that the mineral could be beneficial in improving athletes’ recovery capacities. According to research published in the journal Nutrients, it is a micronutrient that is usually supplemented in soccer players for its supposed buffering effect and its possible increase in athlete performance.

Magnesium-rich foods

We’re now going to show you foods rich in magnesium that you can include in your diet to satisfy the requirements of this important nutrient.

1. Almonds

Nuts stand out mainly for their nutritional density. They contain large amounts of protein, healthy fats, fiber, and micronutrients. Among the latter is magnesium, so its intake is recommended to improve the quality of rest and to prevent deficits that may affect your health.

When consuming nuts, it’s essential to avoid commercial versions that have undergone frying processes or that have added salt. It’s always advisable to choose natural or roasted almonds. This last cooking process serves to inactivate some of the antinutrients present in the food, so its digestion becomes easier.

It shouldn’t be forgotten that we are talking about products with high energy density. It’s good for them to appear on a daily basis in our diets, but in controlled amounts of no more than one or two handfuls. Otherwise, a fat weight gain could be experienced derived from the caloric imbalance.

2. Soy beans

Soy is another of the plant-based products that stand out for their protein content. It’s essential to meet the daily requirements of these nutrients to ensure the proper functioning of lean mass. An intake of more than 0.8 grams of protein per kilo of weight per day is recommended in healthy sedentary people, according to a study published in the Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism journal.

Soybeans are characterized by containing significant amounts of magnesium, making them ideal to meet the needs of this element. Despite the fact that for many years its intake was associated with a reduction in testosterone levels in men, it has now been confirmed that there’s no direct relationship.

It should be noted that soy is an excellent food for women. It contains a series of compounds known as isoflavones that promote the hormonal balance of women.

3. Beans

Beans are foods of plant origin that are characterized by the presence of fiber and antioxidant phytonutrients. Its regular presence in the diet reduces the risk of developing constipation. Fiber increases the volume of the fecal bolus, which facilitates transit by creating more intense peristaltic movements.

On the other hand, beans are a source of certain essential vitamins and minerals. Magnesium is one of the micronutrients that we can find in abundance in its interior, so it’s recommended that these foods are part of the regular diet to ensure improved health.

As they are products with a low energy density, they’re excellent to consume at dinner time. They have high culinary versatility, so they can be prepared with a sauce, with tomato, and even with potato and egg. They increase the feeling of satiety and provide important phytonutrients to ensure good health.

4. Chocolate

Magnesium-rich foods include cocoa.
As long as it is consumed in moderate amounts, the cocoa in chocolate provides numerous health benefits.

Chocolate is a beneficial food, although varieties of it are generally found in the supermarket with low nutritional value. This is because sugar is used as the main ingredient to make this product. This element has been shown to be capable of negatively affecting metabolic capacity, increasing the risk of developing obesity.

In any case, cocoa, a component that should be the main ingredient in chocolate, contains a large amount of micronutrients and important antioxidants. Its regular consumption is associated with an improvement in certain biochemical parameters, such as blood pressure. For this reason, its presence in the regular diet is recommended.

It’s always important to choose varieties of chocolate that have a high percentage of cocoa and a low presence of added sugars. Artificial sweeteners are not a good option either. They create uncertain effects on metabolism and negatively affect the density and diversity of the microbiota in the medium term.

5. Prawns

The consumption of seafood is highly recommended in the context of a healthy diet. They usually provide proteins of high biological value in a low-calorie environment, so they’re perfect to include in a hypocaloric diet that aims to cause a reduction in body weight.

In the section of micronutrients, they also stand out significantly. They are a source of iodine, a determining element to ensure the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. In addition, they have a large amount of magnesium inside. For this reason, its consumption is associated with a greater capacity for night rest.

One negative aspect of seafood, and particularly prawns, is its high price. Its price can also skyrocket at certain times of the year.

6. Dates

Dates are a type of dehydrated fruit characterized by its content in simple sugars. Despite this, their intake is not considered negative for health, since they also contain a good amount of fiber. This substance buffers the effect of simple carbohydrates on blood glucose, reducing the negative impact at the pancreatic level.

However, it isn’t recommended to abuse these foods. Although they have antioxidants and essential micronutrients, their intake in high amounts could cause metabolic alterations. The truth is that a high presence of simple carbohydrates in the diet, although accompanied by fiber, is associated with a greater risk of developing obesity and diabetes.

As a general rule, the use of dates as a sweetener in culinary preparations is recommended instead of table sugar. These products have a higher nutritional value than sucrose, and with less carbohydrates per 100 grams (4 oz) of product. They improve the flavor of certain dishes without causing such negative effects.

7. Canned sardines

The consumption of fish is fully recommended to achieve good health. One option to take into account is the inclusion in the diet of canned varieties, especially blue fish. Due to their lipid content, they keep well over time if packaged under certain favorable conditions. This saves costs and offers an affordable quality product for everyone.

Canned sardines are characterized by the presence in their interior of proteins of high biological value and of high-quality fatty acids. Those of the omega 3 series stand out above all, capable of exerting a modulating effect on the inflammatory levels of the organism. Its regular presence in the diet is related to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

These foods contain essential micronutrients, such as calcium and magnesium. Many of them are present in the bones of the animal. Due to the period that it has spent immersed in vegetable oil, these structures have softened considerably, making it possible to consume them without major difficulties.

8. Cheese: dairy can also be rich in magnesium

We can’t talk about foods with a high concentration of magnesium without making special mention of cheese. Obviously, not all its varieties contain a similar amount of this nutrient. The semi-cured Manchego cheese stands out above the rest, a typical product of the Iberian Peninsula.

Keep in mind that the presence of dairy products in the diet is essential in order to ensure good health. These products have high-quality proteins and micronutrients capable of preventing the development of osteoporosis, such as calcium.

Although in previous times their presence in our diet was limited to avoid alterations in the lipid profile, it’s currently known that the saturated fatty acids they contain don’t negatively affect cardiovascular health, as long as they aren’t exposed at high temperatures.

9. Potatoes, the tubers richest in magnesium

Magnesium-rich foods include chickpeas
Apart from their magnesium content, chickpeas are good foods to include in the diet due to the versatility of recipes in which they can be used.

Tubers are high-quality sources of complex carbohydrates. They stand out for their water content, which allows their energy value to be moderate. For this reason, they can be included in a hypocaloric diet intended to exert an effect on the reduction of body weight. However, the cooking method to which these products are subjected matters a lot.

As a general rule, the consumption of baked or cooked potatoes is recommended. We should avoid frying them, since this increases their caloric density and forms trans-fatty acids, which are harmful to health. This is evidenced by a study published in Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome. Acrylamide could even develop due to the presence of carbohydrates inside.

As long as a healthy cooking method is guaranteed, the presence of potatoes in the diet is highly recommended. They contain important essential micronutrients such as vitamin C and magnesium. Both will ensure that the immune function remains efficient, thus reducing the risk of contracting infectious diseases.

10. Rabbit meat

Among all the meats on offer, special mention must be made of rabbit meat for its magnesium content. It’s true that the amount provided per 100 grams is much lower than that of many other foods already mentioned, but it’s relatively high if we compare it with the percentage of the mineral in other frequently consumed meats.

Rabbit meat is also characterized by its low fat content, which is why it’s a very lean product. It has a moderate energy value, but it contains large amounts of proteins of high biological value and other essential micronutrients to ensure good health.

Of course, it is best to prepare it in the oven or in a stew. Frying is never a good option. To achieve optimal nutritional value, it can be prepared together with an abundant portion of vegetables. This ensures the presence of vitamins and phytonutrients with antioxidant capacity in the dish, elements that help prevent the development of complex pathologies.

11. Spinach, a vegetable rich in magnesium

Spinach is a vegetable whose consumption is associated with good health. Not only does it contain large amounts of magnesium, but it also has other components capable of neutralizing the formation of free radicals and their subsequent accumulation. This effect is related to a lower risk of illness in the medium term.

It should be borne in mind that spinach also has a substance that is especially beneficial for the development of muscle mass, ecdysterone. This compound is usually supplemented in the sports context, as there’s evidence that it stimulates the anabolic pathways of metabolism, generating a positive effect on hypertrophy.

Now, the method of preparation of spinach greatly influences its concentration at a nutritional level. If you cook them in water, it’s important to also consume the liquid. Otherwise, a large part of water-soluble substances will be lost, such as some vitamins and antioxidants.

12. Whole wheat bread

Whole grains are often characterized by their mineral content. Magnesium is one of them, so all products made from these ingredients will also contain significant amounts of the nutrient. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are good quality food.

Bread, as a general rule, is produced from flour and water. Despite the use of whole grain varieties, the level of processing remains high. This causes the consumption of significant amounts of the food to negatively impact blood glucose, causing pancreatic stress.

When it comes to introducing bread into the diet, moderation must prevail. Accompanying main meals with this food is not a good habit. Its occasional consumption isn’t problematic, but it’s important to accompany it with high-quality food, ideally with a high protein content.

13. Chickpeas

The consumption of legumes is recommended by most nutrition experts. These foods contain a lot of fiber, which helps reduce constipation and increase feelings of fullness. This makes it easier to plan a hypocaloric diet. On the other hand, they are products that stand out for their content in essential micronutrients.

Through the intake of legumes, we receive calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc, to name but three elements. All these elements improve our overall health, preventing the development of complex pathologies in the medium term. For this reason, its consumption is recommended at least once or twice a week.

Of course, legumes have a significant drawback for many people – their digestion is often difficult. To avoid producing excess gases, it’s recommended to subject these products to a low-temperature cooking process for a considerable period of time. If chick peas are crushed, thenthis helps the process. That’s why hummus is easy to digest.

14. Snails, rich in magnesium

Although they are not part of many people’s usual diet, we could not forget about snails when talking about foods high in magnesium. They are one of the products with the highest proportion of the mineral per 100 grams. Specifically, they are capable of providing 250 milligrams, at the height of almonds.

However, snails are not consumed frequently in all countries and regions. Their appearance and gelatinous texture makes certain people reluctant to include it in the diets. Even so, there are very different ways of preparing them that have delicious final organoleptic characteristics.

Snails are not only a source of micronutrients, but also provide proteins of high biological value in significant quantities. They can be included in the athlete’s diet in order to promote the growth of muscle tissue.

15. Pasta

To finish our selection of foods rich in magnesium, we should mention pasta. Especially when it is made from wholemeal flour, it stands out for its high content in this mineral. However, and as in the case of bread, its usual intake isn’t recommended when the objective is to ensure good health.

The carbohydrates it provides have a high glycemic index. They are quickly absorbed and blood glucose levels increase, forcing the pancreas to work more than necessary. This effect in the medium term can translate into an increased risk of developing metabolic pathologies, such as type 2 diabetes.

When introducing foods high in carbohydrates into the diet, it’s better to opt for tubers and legumes. The sugars provided by these products are complex, which generates less stress on the body. Of course, occasionally you can consume pasta without major problems. The presence of it once a week doesn’t produce inconveniences.

Include foods rich in magnesium in the diet

There are several foods rich in magnesium that you can introduce in the regular diet. Through its consumption you will ensure an adequate supply of a large amount of micronutrients, which will help to guarantee a good state of health in the medium and long term.

Don’t forget that one of the pillars of a proper diet is variety. The greater the spectrum of ingested edibles, the lower the risk of developing chronic diseases that affect the proper functioning of the body. In these cases, the existence of a deficit is less likely.

Finally, keep in mind that it’s crucial to combine a proper diet with other healthy habits, such as regular exercise and a good night’s rest. In the end, maintaining good health is the result of a combination of many factors over time.

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