Magnesium is one of the more important minerals biologically because, among other benefits, it is necessary for approximately 300 biochemical functions. Studies by the United States Department of Agriculture and various other agencies have discovered that most people do not get the recommended amount of magnesium. Eating magnesium rich foods is a natural way to get the important dietary mineral. Magnesium rich foods include legumes, nuts, and seeds. Whole grains and seafood are also rich in this mineral.
Some examples of edible legumes are beans, peas, and lentils. Generally, health experts agree that legumes are high in magnesium. For example, magnesium rich black beans typically have 1.9 grains (120 mg) of magnesium per cup.
The chlorophyll molecule that causes vegetables to turn green is rich in magnesium. Green vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, and turnip tops, may be cooked or raw to be effective sources of the mineral. Most, but not all, salad greens are good sources of magnesium. Iceberg lettuce has approximately 0.06 grains (4 mg) of magnesium per cup, but the same amount of romaine lettuce has 0.1 grains (7 mg) of magnesium. The same amount of spinach salad provides about 2.5 grains (155 mg) of magnesium.
Seeds and nuts are excellent sources of the mineral. These magnesium rich foods are effective in baked goods or raw. Some of them, such as peanuts, make good bread spreads, and others, such as pumpkin or squash seeds, are excellent as snacks. Combining seeds and nuts with other foods rich in magnesium, such as raisins, makes a healthy snack.
Magnesium is not restricted to plants. Typically, fish and seafood are good sources. Fish, including halibut, cod, and others, may contain up to 0.45 grains (30 mg) of magnesium per ounce. A serving of 3 ounces (about 85 g) of shrimp has about 1 ounce (29 ml) of magnesium. Dairy products are also rich in magnesium. One cup (about 240 ml) of fat-free milk contains about 0.9 ounces (27 mg), and one cup (approximately 240 ml) of yogurt has 0.7 grains (45 mg), but whole milk has only 0.37 grains (24 mg).
Whole grains are generally rich in magnesium, but processed, refined grains are low in the mineral. Some cereals made with whole grains are also good sources. Brown rice and potatoes are also magnesium rich foods. One medium, raw plantain has about 1 grain (66 mg) of magnesium, whereas one medium-sized banana has about 0.46 (30 mg). A person who wishes to increase the magnesium in his or her diet needs to research which foods are the best magnesium rich foods.