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More Magnesium, Please!

Dietary Magnesium is Associated with Better Health Outcomes

Your body needs magnesium. Hundreds of enzymes depend on this mineral for countless essential processes. Magnesium is needed to make DNA and other molecules, supports the structure of cells and bones, and is required for muscle contraction and normal heart rhythm. In addition, magnesium plays a crucial role in carbohydrate metabolism, helping to produce energy from food, and may help improve glucose control and insulin sensitivity, both risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

A 2014 study published in the Journal of Human Nutrition & Food Science gives significant reason to up your intake of magnesium, linking dietary magnesium to better health outcomes. A Canadian-led research team looked at over 14,000 adult participants of the NHANES survey in the United States. Based on reported dietary intake data, researchers classified whether or not participants met the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) for magnesium.

Compared with adults who did not meet dietary requirements for magnesium, adults who got enough magnesium from food had 12% lower risk of metabolic syndrome , 9% lower risk of overweight or obesity, 12% lower risk of elevated blood pressure, 13% lower risk of elevated systolic blood pressure, and 16% lower risk of reduced HDL (good) cholesterol. These health improvements contribute to lowered risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Despite its integral role in the body, most Americans still are not eating enough magnesium. In the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Committee, magnesium once again landed on the “shortfall” nutrient list. Experts agree Americans need to be eating more magnesium, and suggest fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole-grains as top sources of this mineral.

How can you eat your way to 100% of your daily magnesium? Include these foods in your menu and you’ll hit the recommended 400 mg per day: a medium banana (8% DV), 2 tablespoons almond butter (22% DV), ½ cup cooked spinach (20% DV), a baked potato with skin (11% DV), ¼ cup dried figs (6% DV), ½ cup black beans (15% DV), one cup butternut squash (12%), and one cup low-fat yogurt (11%). Want to get creative in the kitchen? Our Hawaiian Style Turkey Sliders are fun to make and to eat and offer 20% of your magnesium in each mini-burger.

BONUS: Past research discussed in the Dole Nutrition News suggests magnesium may also help to improve memory recall and lower the risk of developing gallstones.

Published June 1, 2015

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