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Magnesium-Rich Foods Improving Cardiovascular Health

When it comes to cardiovascular health, the usual healthy eating guidelines include such perennial recommendations as eating more vegetables and fruits, fibre-rich foods, oily fish and reducing intakes of salt and saturated fat.

One nutrient that is seldom mentioned as part of this standard healthy eating advice is magnesium. Yet new research is showing that magnesium is essential for keeping our cardiovascular system healthy (cardiovascular disease is still the biggest killer in most countries of the Western world). So we should better get acquainted with magnesium-rich dietary sources. A meta-analysis of seven prospective studies, with nearly a quarter of a million test subjects, found that increasing magnesium intake by 100mg per day was associated with an eight percent decrease in the risk of stroke. Plausible explanations for this finding included potential blood pressure-reducing effects of magnesium or beneficial effects of magnesium on lessening risk of type 2 diabetes which in itself is a major risk factor for stroke.

Magnesium-rich foods include green leafy vegetables (mostly cruciferous vegetables), beans, whole grains, rice and nuts. In order to put this research into some sort of perspective, one cup of cooked spinach provides 157mg of magnesium, one cup of canned white beans delivers 134mg, a cup of cooked rice 84mg and just one ounce (barely a handful) of roasted cashew nuts proffers 77mg. And aside from their ample supply of magnesium, it just so happens that these are all foods strongly associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease in their own right. For instance, regular consumption of nuts has been found to significantly lower (by 37%) risk of heart disease, with an average decrease of eight percent for each weekly serving of nuts. And there is good reason to believe that beans and whole grains provide a similarly protective cocktail of cardio-vascular nutrients.

Research shows that magnesium intake in westernized cultures is largely inadequate. Therefore, it would be difficult to argue with the conclusion of the study authors that when it comes to cardiovascular health:

“increased consumption of magnesium-rich foods such as beans, whole-grain cereals, green leafy vegetables and nuts appears to be prudent.”