Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Magnesium: super important mineral

February is Heart Health Month and it's time to get smart about your longevity and heart health! Magnesium is one of the super important minerals we should stay on top of. 60% of Americans don't get enough magnesium--and that impacts lots of health factors like your bone health and muscle recovery from hiking or exercise. And of course, your heart is a muscle, so anything that helps support healthy muscles is important for your heart health!

The question is HOW do I get enough magnesium from my diet? Leafy greens are the top of the list: spinach, swiss chard, pumpkin seeds, collard greens, sea vegetables, and the current popular kid-- kale. You can check the full list of food sources on this resource. However, if you're a busy person and don't eat at home for every meal OR you're getting muscle cramps/tightness from exercising, you will want to keep a high quality, highly absorbable magnesium supplement handy, for when you can feel the muscles not recover fast enough for your next tennis match or marathon training session. I love epsom salts baths but sometimes I don't want to wait until I get home for a bath, and honestly, I don't know how much magnesium I'm actually absorbing from the bath. Food sources are preferred as a baseline, but be aware that we're not sure how much of the nutrients are in your batch of veggies. As Dr. Al Sears says: "You can get more magnesium by eating nuts, seeds, dairy products and dark green, leafy vegetables. But modern farming practices have depleted much of the mineral content in our soil, so there’s not much magnesium in vegetables any more."

Here's a tip about kale. Some people think kale is a little bitter, and when I sautee kale with garlic and a little splash of white wine, it helps tenderize and sweeten the leaves. Kale chips have been quite the rage lately, but I find that store-bought ones have a lot of extra flavoring I'm not fond of. Baking your own requires a little trial and error, so be careful not to burn your leaves. I'm pleased to report that I've found a wonderful bacon-flavor without the badness of bacon through using a hickory flavored sea salt I found at the farmer's market. Contrary to popular discussion, a little bit of salt on home-cooking isn't bad for your heart health. It's the restaurant and fast-food overkill of salt usage that is what we should cut out. The more you cook and eat your own food that is less processed, the easier it is to be good to your heart health. And if you can use supplements appropriately to provide a higher level of nutrition, even better!

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