A healthy dinner of Red Lentil and Spinach Soup with Lemon Paprika Chicken

Red Lentil and Spinach Soup with Lemon Paprika Chicken

Whether you need something for to take the edge off a cold spell, or are looking for a quick, easy, healthy dinner, this soup will do the trick! You might be surprised at how healthy and delicious this is, given the simple ingredient list and easy instructions (they might look long but they’re straightforward). And don’t forget to check out the recipe notes at the end of the page – you’ll find some helpful tips for turning this into a five-star dinner that will quickly slide into your standard list of healthy meals.

Red Lentil and Spinach Soup with Lemon Paprika Chicken
Adapted from Donna Hay’s 10 Minute Meals

For the soup:

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or put through a garlic press
  • Zest of one lemon (see note)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup red lentils, washed and picked through (see note)
  • 4 cups/1 litre chicken stock
  • 2 cups packed fresh spinach (see note)
  • Juice of one lemon (approximately 2 tablespoons), or to taste

For the chicken:

  • 1 chicken breast
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • Small pinch of chili powder
  • 1 tsp olive oil or coconut oil (see note)
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock

Prepare the chicken: Turn the breast on it’s side and cut down the length to get 2-3 pieces of about equal thickness. Combine lemon zest (half of a lemon), smoked paprika, chili powder, oil, and stock in a medium bowl and mix well. Add chicken pieces and coat thoroughly. Set aside.

Start the soup: Spray a medium pot with oil and add the onion, garlic, lemon zest (whole lemon), and cumin. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and translucent. Add lentils and stock. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer 10-12 minutes or until lentils are soft.

Cook the chicken: While soup is simmering, spray a non-stick pan with oil and put on high heat. After 15-20 seconds, place the chicken strips into the pan, leaving a little space between each, and turn down heat to medium. Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until the meat is no longer pink and the juices run clear. Remove from heat and let rest while you finish the soup.

Finish it off: When lentils are soft, stir through spinach, allowing it to wilt and mix through evenly. Stir through lemon juice. Slice the chicken into strips. Ladle soup into bowls, top with chicken, and enjoy!

 

Recipe notes:

  • Lemon zest is a great way to add flavor without additional calories. The easiest way to zest a lemon is with a microplane, but you can also use the smallest setting on a box grater.
  • Dry lentils, beans, and other pulses can sometimes hide small rocks that stems from the processing. This is normal, but you still want to pour everything onto a plate and check it over to make sure you’re only eating what you want to.
  • If you don’t have fresh packed spinach on hand, try whole leaf frozen spinach.
  • Olive oil has a relatively low smoke point, which means that over anything but high heat, the oil can break down and lose it’s health benefits. Coconut oil has a much higher smoke point, has positive health benefits, and won’t impart a coconut flavor to your food.

 

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Healthy lunch of Fresh colorful tomato and cucumber salad

Eat More, Lose Weight, Get Healthy

Ever thought you’d hear someone tell you that you could lose weight and get healthy by eating a huge plate of food at every meal?

We are hard wired for survival, and to our brains, that means food. Though it’s a small percentage of your body weight, your brain uses approximately 20% of your daily energy! And in order to keep itself and the rest of you going, it drives you towards food. Lots of food, if possible. While that’s great for survival when food is scarce, we live where it generally isn’t scarce. Good for us, but your subconscious brain is not good at recognizing this. So the drive to eat will continue, which means even when you’re working hard to lose weight or body fat, you can still be outsmarted.

The good news is that we can turn the tables, and use this survival drive in our favor. I’ve long been a supporter of “eat more good stuff” rather than the “eat less of the bad stuff/everything” approach that is the hallmark of most diets.

Your eating experience is about far more than putting food in your mouth. In fact, scientists are still unclear about exactly what factors cause us to feel full, though the best theories propose a combination of visual and scent cues, the amount you chew your food, and the overall time you take to eat a meal. Vision is super important in this. Part of our drive for food means that we’ll subconsciously gravitate towards food as long as it’s available. This means a full plate. Probably second servings, even if that means just picking at leftover bits. Your subconscious wants it all!

Satisfy that drive for more by giving yourself more of the good – or good for you – stuff. This will not be the first time you’ve been introduced to the concept of Eat More Vegetables, but that concept has stuck around because it works. Find vegetable or fresh fruit dishes that you enjoy and load up on them, or learn to pad the steak and potato dinner with half a plate of broccoli and green beans. This is what allows you to have a huge plate of food without the big calorie counts. If you’re working to lose weight, it’s a major factor in eating healthy meals without feeling deprived. It’s how you keep enjoying that delicious mashed potato without the guilt that comes from eating it out of the pot (I’m sure I’m not the only one who does that, right?!?!).

For a big meals thats filling, satisfying, and still healthy and supporting weight loss, fitness, or health goals,  try these

  • BIG Salads: Lots of greens, with enough beans, hard cooked eggs, steamed and fresh veggies, and small pieces of chicken, steak, or pork. Aim for mostly leafy greens with each bite, but enough of the other stuff that you actually get some flavor with it! Bonus – no dressing needed.
  • Half a plate of veggies: Steamed is the most common “healthy” suggestion, and it’s a good one. But I’m especially taken with roasted everything: Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts,  zucchini, peppers, pumpkin – anything you might steam will go well in the oven. Your taste buds wont know what hit them.
  • Extra steamed veggies tossed with some stock and a pinch of fresh pepper.
  • Homemade coleslaw with a vingear dressing for crunch and a bit of bite.

And anything else you can think of! This works best when your loading up on what you enjoy. Have a favorite veggie style? Please, share in the comments!


One skillet zucchini and mushroom omelette for a fast healthy breakfast

Veggie and Cheddar Open Omelet

I love a recipe that works for any meal, and this omelet does just that – and it’s everything else I look for in a meal as well…

Easy? Check.
Quick? Check.
Delicious? Check.
Healthy? Check!

Many people stay away from traditional folded omelets because flipping them can be a delicate operation at best, and a total disaster at worst. To take the “pain” out of this pain-in-the-butt, this recipe gives you an open-style omelet that requires no flipping at all! Once done, all you have to do is slide it onto your plate and enjoy!

Veggie and Cheddar Open Omelet

1/2 C mushroom slices
1/2 C zucchini slices
1 clove or 1/2 tsp minced garlic
3 eggs
1/4 C loosely packed grated cheddar
Salt and pepper
Fresh parsley – optional

Spray small non-stick pan with spray oil and heat over medium heat. Cook mushrooms, zucchini, and garlic, stirring frequently, until soft. Meanwhile, beat eggs in a small bowl, with a pinch of salt and pepper. Re-spray pan and veggies with oil, give a quick stir, and pour in eggs. Sprinkle cheese evenly over the eggs. Turn heat down to medium-low or low, and put the lid of a large pot over the pan (see note). Let cook for 5-7 minutes or until eggs are set. Use a spatula to lift and slide omelet out of the pan and onto plate. Sprinkle with fresh parsley, if using, and an extra crack of black pepper.

NOTE: Using a pot lid or something similar to cover the pan helps the eggs cook evenly as they will be heated from the top and the bottom. The lid to a large stock pan will work well for this, or if unavailable, a cookie sheet also works in a pinch.


Greek beef salad with tzatziki dressing for a healthy lunch or dinner

Greek Beef Salad

An easy, satisfying salad that’s packed with flavor and won’t leave you feeling hungry again in an hour, this salad is a great opportunity to maximize your veggie intake. It’s equally good as a one-off dinner or lunch, or you can prep a big batch and assemble when you need a quick meal. Best of all, this is easy to individualize – if you don’t like something, leave it out!

 

Greek Beef Salad

Serves two

  • 400g / 1 lb Ground beef
  • 1 Tbs Fresh oregano, or 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 small zucchini, grated
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 cups of lettuce (torn) or fresh spinach
  • ½ – 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • ½ – 1 cup diced red capsicum or red bell pepper
  • ½ – 1 cup chopped cucumber
  • ¼ – ½ cup finely diced red onion
  • ¼ – ½ cup chopped Kalamata olives
  • ¼ – ½ crumbled feta cheese
  • ¼ – ½ Tzatziki

Tzatziki

  • ½ large cucumber, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 cup plain yogurt, regular or greek style
  • 2 gloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbs dill or mint – optional

Using a medium to large pan over medium heat, cook the beef, garlic, zucchini, and onion until the meat is browned and the vegetables are soft. Mix in the oregano.

Split the remaining salad ingredients between two bowls, using as much as you like of each one. Health tip: The feta will be the most calorie-dense, and has a big flavor, so start small with it. Both the feta and the olives are high in salt and can be omitted if you are limiting your sodium intake.

Spoon half the beef into each bowl, and top with tzatziki for a healthy salad dressing. Yum!


Vitamin B12 rich salmon for lunch or dinner

Fast Facts: Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is also referred to as the “energy vitamin” thanks to key contributions to energy production. While daily requirements are quite low and your body can easily store large amounts of B12, some conditions and dietary choices can lead to low B12 levels. It is essential for red blood cell formation (needed to transport oxygen to the brain and all other body parts) and helps prevent nerve damage and peripheral neuropathy.

Without adequate B12, your body will struggle to produce energy at a cellular level, as the vitamin is active in many steps in this process. As well as nerve protection, a good B12 supply also acts to decrease the risk of stroke and other cardiovascular disease.

Dietary intakes in western cultures usually provide an adequate to abundant supply of B12, and in fact, deficiencies often stem from problems absorbing the vitamin rather than not eating enough of it. However, if you normally take certain medications or eat a primarily plant based diet, you may want to talk to your doctor to find out if a supplement will be worthwhile for you.

Vitamin B12 is involved in:
  • Production of red blood cells
  • DNA synthesis and production
  • Protection of the myelin sheath, the protective covering around nerves that helps transmit nerve signals
  • Support of the cellular processes that produce energy
  • Maintaining low blood levels of homocysteine, a protein that in high levels is linked to stroke and cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease and peripheral vascular disease
Food sources of vitamin B12 include:
  • Fish and shellfish, especially salmon, sardines, tuna, cod, scallops, and shrimp or prawns
  • Lamb and beef, especially liver
  • Dairy products
  • Mushrooms
  • Fermented foods like tempeh
Getting too much vitamin B12 can lead to:

It’s almost impossible to get too much B12! There are no known signs of excessive levels.

Not getting enough vitamin B12 can lead to:
  • Neurological problems, including memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, mania, and psychosis
  • Neuropathy, or tingling, burning, or loss of sensation in a part of your body (often in hands or feet)
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Depression
  • Migraine
  • Macular degeneration
  • Kidney disease
  • Shingles
  • Megaloblastic anemia, a condition where red blood cells are poorly formed
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
More on vitamin B12:
  • Plant based diets, especially vegan diets, are at higher risks of B12 deficiency as most food sources are animal-based. You may want to consider a supplement.
  • If you have acid reflux, and especially if you are taking an antacid, a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) like Nexium or Prilosec, you may not absorb B12 from your diet. Talk to your doctor. You may want to consider a sublingual supplement (placed under the tongue to absorb).
  • Your ability to absorb B12 decreases with age, in part due to changes in digestion.
  • Some research has shown that vitamin B12 may help maintain bone density and generally support bone health. However, additional research is needed to confirm this.
Vitamin B12 combined with other medications and health conditions:

Taking vitamins may have adverse effects when combined with some over the counter or prescription medications, and some medications can decrease vitamin absorption. Some health conditions can be impacted by high vitamin B12 intakes. Talk to your doctor prior to increasing your vitamin B12 intake if you have or are taking:

  • Anticonvulsants
  • Some chemotherapy medications. While B12 can interfere with the actions of some chemotherapy drugs, it can also protect against chemotherapy-related neuropathies. It’s highly recommended to have a conversation with your oncologist about whether you can take B12 supplements as a preventative measure for neuropathy.
  • Colchicine (also known as Cilicaine or Colcrys), used to treat gout.
  • Cholesterol lowering drugs
  • Medications used to treat high stomach acid, including proton pump inhibitors like Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid, or H2 blockers like Zantac, Pepcid, or Pepzan
  • Metformin, used to treat diabetes
  • Tetracycline-type antibiotics

Fresh vegetables including onions carrots and beets eaten to provide dietary fiber

Fast Facts: Dietary Fiber

Also spelled dietary fibre – gotta love English!

Dietary fibers encompass a vast array of digestion-resistant components found in plant-based foods. They fall into two basic categories: Soluble fiber and insoluble fiber, which have different benefits for the digestive tract. Soluble fibers are found predominantly in fruits, vegetables, legumes like beans and lentils, and plant extracts, and provide a food source for your beneficial gut bacteria. Insoluble fiber is found in whole grains, vegetables and woody plants, and provides meal bulk, satiety (feelings of fullness), and helps prevent constipation.

While dietary fiber is not absorbed by the body, it still plays an important role in digestive and overall health. Adequate fiber intakes can help with weight loss and weight management by increasing feeling of fullness, and as it is slow to be processed by the body, is an effective tool for hunger management. Fiber consumption has been linked in lower risks of several diseases, including multiple cancers of the digestive tract.

The recommended daily intake is approximately 25-30g of fiber. While many people routinely fall below this, you can boost your intake by choosing food including more beans and lentils, fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and other delicious whole food options. Choosing whole foods that are high in fiber will also provide a diet rich in a variety of other nutrients (vitamins and minerals) as well. No supplements needed!

Dietary Fibre is involved in:
  • Decreasing risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease by changing the rate and level of absorption and metabolism of some dietary fat and carbohydrate molecules, leading to lower cholesterol, lower triglycerides, and more steady levels of blood glucose (blood sugar) and insulin
  • Decreasing risk of colon or bowel cancers by decreasing exposure of intestinal lining to potential cancer-causing molecules, both by increasing the volume of total food digested and decreasing the time food spends in the digestive tract
  • Speeds the passage of food through the digestive system and adds bulk to stool, increasing regular bowel movements and alleviating and preventing constipation
  • Weight loss, weight maintenance, and appetite control, through increased meal bulk with a relatively low number of calories, fats, and added sugars, as well as making you feel full faster
  • May increase absorption of other nutrients, such as calcium and magnesium
  • Appears to decrease systemic inflammation levels that are inherent to many disease states, including diabetes, cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, and others
Great Ideas for Increasing Fiber Intake

Low fiber intakes are often due to high intakes of processed foods, animal-based foods, and low intakes of plant-based foods. You can increase your fiber intake by including an extra salad, veggies, or fruit in with your daily meals. Some common high-fiber foods and their dietary fiber content are listed below.

  • Romaine or Cos lettuce: 1 cup shredded = 1g
  • Tomato: 1 small = 1.1g
  • Cabbage: 1 cup shredded = 1.8g
  • Quinoa: 1 cup = 5.8g
  • Brown rice: 1 cup = 3.5 g
  • Kidney beans:  1 cup = 11g
  • Chickpeas: 1 cup = 12g
  • Black beans (also called black turtle beans): 1 cup = 15g
  • Celery: 1 large stalk = 1g
  • Carrot: 1 medium = 1.4g
  • Apple: 1 medium = 4.4g
  • Banana: 1 small = 2.6g
  • Kiwifruit: 1 medium = 2.1 g
Can I get too much fiber?

The National Academy of Sciences has not set a tolerable upper limit on dietary fiber intake. There are some health conditions that can call for a low fiber intake, so if you aren’t sure if you are in this category, talk to your doctor. In general, most health conditions will benefit from increased dietary fiber levels. Evidence also indicates that the higher your average intake, the more protective benefits you’ll enjoy.

What happens if I don’t get enough fiber?

Low intakes can lead to excessive weight gain and increased disease risks, however low fiber intakes alone do not seem to be solely responsible for any specific health condition. So while you may not be used to eating a high-fibre diet, you can easily increase your fibre intake by adding a piece of fruit or some veggie sticks. Any increased intake will provide benefits, even if you don’t hit the daily 25g mark!

 

Want to try out a quick and delicious high fiber lunch? Try this Chickpea and Feta Salad!

 

References
Dhingra D, Michael M, Rajput H, et al. (2012) Dietary fibre in foods: a review. J Food Sci Technol, 49(3), 255-66.
Kaczmarczyk, M. M., Miller, M. J., & Freund, G. G. (2012). The health benefits of dietary fiber: Beyond the usual suspects of type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease and colon cancer. Metabolism, 61(8), 1058-1066. doi:10.1016/j.metabol.2012.01.017
Marlett, J. A., McBurney, M. I., & Slavin, J. L. (2002). Position of the American Dietetic Association: Health Implications of Dietary Fiber. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 102(7), 993-1000.

Beef san choi bao in lettuce wraps for fast easy healthy dinner with lots of vegetables

Very Veggie San Choi Bao

If there’s one thing I love, it’s delicious food. If there’s one things I love even more, it’s delicious food that also happens to be healthy!

San choi bao has long been a family favorite. The traditional recipe is a flavored mince (ground pork) served in lettuce cups, which makes it perfect for low-carb and low-gluten meal plans, or even gluten free (see the recipe tips for how-to).  We’ve upped the ante on this by adding a boatload of veggies, which has two added benefits:

You get more veggies, without having to eat a pile of veggies (not that there’s anything wrong with that either!). This means more fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and a more balanced meal in general.

More veggies, and especially the mushrooms, means you can use less protein and still get the same amazing results. This makes the meal more budget-friendly, and is also more eco-friendly, since meat production has a much higher environmental cost.

This recipe is a beef base, but you can use the traditional pork or chicken if you prefer. And while the ingredient list looks long, it’s somewhat deceptive – this meal comes together quickly and easily, so still works well for a weeknight dinner.

Very Veggie San Choi Bao

500g / 1 lb beef mince or ground beef

1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, minced or pressed

Generous 1/2tsp minced ginger

1.5 cups finely diced mushrooms of any variety

1 small onion, diced

1 small carrot, grated

1 small zucchini, grated

1/2 red capsicum or bell pepper, finely chopped

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup oyster or hoisin sauce

1/2 cup water or beef stock

2 tsp cornstarch mixed with a tablespoon of water

Lettuce leaves, for serving

Optional – red or wombok cabbage leaves, for serving

 

In a large pan, brown the beef with the garlic and ginger. Set aside.

Using the same pan, cook the mushrooms and onion for 3 minutes or until soft, adding a splash of water if they are dry and sticking to the pan. While these are cooking, combine the soy cause, oyster or hoisin sauce, water or stock, and cornstarch mixture in a bowl.

Add remaining vegetables to the pan and cook an additional 2-3 minutes or until slightly softened. Return beef to the pan and mix to combine. Add the sauce mixture and stir through, cooking until the sauce has thickened.

Separate lettuce leaves, and cabbage leaves if using. Layer two to three leaves together, and spoon mixture into the center. Cup or wrap, and enjoy!

 

Pro tips:

  • To make this meal gluten free, choose GF soy and hoisin sauces, and use arrowroot or tapioca powder in place of the cornstarch.
  • As you brown the beef, spoon out the liquid and save it to add to your water or beef stock. This improves the flavor and will decrease meal prep time.
  • Cabbage leaves give more heft to the lettuce cups, lending some sturdiness and crunch to the meal.

 

If you’re Brisbane-based and want to try this with beef, Rangeland Quality Meats offers amazing locally raised, free range and grass fed beef at an excellent price. They haven’t sponsored this post – we just love their product! It’s a cut above anything you get at the supermarket (sorry, pun intended!). You can get it via home-delivery, though we always grab ours from the Rocklea Markets on Saturdays.

 


seared scallops and boiled eggs on green salad for a healthy fast lunch

Perfect Portions Made Easy

Calorie counting to manage meals and portion sizes? We’ve got a handy trick for you!

Counting calories or points, keeping a food diary, or otherwise painstakingly tracking food intake is a chore, at least for most. While it can certainly be effective in bringing awareness to your portion sizes and meals, the time and effort it takes most people often leads to frustration and loss of motivation. Efforts at healthy eating can quickly be derailed.

Sometimes keeping a precise count of calories, carbs, or fats can be important, as in the case of some health conditions. If this is you, please continue to follow your doctors instructions! If this isn’t you though, and you are trying to track food, calories, carbs, or fats for the sake of general health or weight loss, good news: there’s an easier way to manage your meals.

Your hand is the perfect portion control guide. It’s proportionally sized to your body, stays consistent, and you’ve always got it with you. Estimating portion sizes based on your hand means there are no fiddly measurements to make (you can easily make a visual comparison – it doesn’t have to be exact!) and no math involved in building a healthy plate of food. While this method has been gaining in popularity in recent years, it’s actually been recommended in numerous nutrition textbooks for years as well as being widely recommended by non-profit health and nutrition organizations and government agencies.

Like this infographic? CLICK HERE it to download it with get bonus meal-management tips!


Food Friday: Instant “Overnight” Oats

I’m a big fan of oatmeal for both enjoyment and health reasons, but in the middle of summer a hot breakfast is less… enticing.

Overnight oats are a good solution for this. Mix them all up and stick them in the fridge, and in the morning you have a great cold breakfast.

…Except that I NEVER think to set that all up the night before.

Good thing you can have “overnight” oats in about 15 minutes! Rather than letting the oats hydrate overnight, using hot water hydrates them quickly without actually “cooking” them as you traditionally would. Giving it time to sit and hydrate also gives it time to cool, so when it comes time to eat, you actually get the “overnight” experience. I set them up to soak when I make my coffee, so when I’m done with my first cup they’re ready to eat. Throw on your toppings of choice, add a splash of milk, and enjoy!

The Super Simple Base Recipe
1/2 cup rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 cup boiling water

Pour water over oats and let sit until water is absorbed and cool, at least 15 minutes.

 

Great Topping Combinations

Peanut Butter Crunch
1 green apple, chopped
1 tbsp natural peanut butter

Berries and Cream
1 cupped handful of fresh or frozen berries
1/2 cup of plain yogurt
Sprinkle of cinnamon

Banana Nut
1 small banana, chopped
1-2 tbsp chopped walnuts

These topping combinations are just a few options. Try these oats with whatever suits your fancy and let us know what you used – we’re always looking for great ideas!

 


Fast Facts: Magnesium

While present in only small amount in the body, magnesium is nonetheless one of the most important dietary micronutrients. In over 300 of the chemical reactions required to sustain life, it acts a co-factor – essentially a “helper molecule” that is needed for an enzyme to carry out its function. Many of these reactions have a key role in creating your body’s energy and in efficient nervous system function. On a whole-body level, many people report that magnesium has a calming effect, helping to manage anxiety, decreasing muscle cramps, and can lead to better sleep.

Men tend to need more than women, thanks to a generally larger body size, however most people have a much-lower-than-recommended intake daily basis. In Australia, a national health survey in 2011-2012 showed that anywhere from one-third to one-half of the population did not meet the required intake, depending on age group (older adults are at higher risk.) A 2005-2006 survey in the United States found that a majority of Americans did not meet estimated average requirements (EAR) of magnesium, and it should be noted that the EAR measure is the intake level estimated to meet the requirements of 50% of healthy individuals, which may be a lower level than your individual requirements. In short, most of us don’t get adequate magnesium supplies from food.

This can be due in part to food choices (some are more magnesium-rich than others) as well as the impact of other nutrients on the body’s ability to absorb magnesium. Additionally, some diseases and health conditions can impact the body’s ability to absorb the mineral, and some lifestyle choices – like higher levels of physical activity or exercise – can lead to higher intake requirements.

 

Magnesium is involved in:
  • Cellular energy production via carbohydrate and fat metabolism
  • Protein and DNA synthesis
  • Regulates transport of ions (chemical molecules) across cell walls, plays a large role the muscle cells ability to contract and relax
  • Chemical reactions that create cellular “second messengers” that send signals within a cell
  • Movement of cells to damaged areas, and wound healing
  • More than 300 enzyme-driven chemical reactions all over the body
Food sources of magnesium include:
  • Dark leafy greens, especially spinach and Swiss chard
  • Nuts and seeds, especially pumpkin and sunflower seeds
  • Beans and legumes
  • Whole grains, especially quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice, and barley
  • Potatoes
Getting too much magnesium can lead to:
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue, weakness, and sleepiness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Very low blood pressure
Not getting enough magnesium can lead to:
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Muscle cramps or twitching
  • Nausea and loss of appetite
  • Problems with moods, thinking, and memory
More on magnesium:
  • The body has complex controls to help regulate magnesium levels. You may absorb more of the mineral from food if your intake is low, and excrete more if your intake is high. (Even with high absorption, you can still have inadequate intake.)
  • Role in bone integrity: Up to 60% of your magnesium is stored in your bones, and as such, it plays a key role in bone metabolism. Studies have shown a low levels of long-term magnesium deficiency can lead to a significant amount of bone loss.
  • Role in blood sugar control: Studies have found that low magnesium can worsen blood sugar control, and that improvements in control are seen when low magnesium levels increase.
  • May help decrease risk of Type 2 Diabetes: Diets high in magnesium are associated with a significantly lower risk of diabetes.
Magnesium combined with other medications and health conditions:

Taking vitamins or minerals may have adverse effects when combined with some over the counter or prescription medications, and some medications can decrease absorption. Some health conditions can be impacted by high magnesium intakes. Talk to your doctor prior to increasing your magnesium intake if you have or are taking:

  • Diabetes
  • Alcoholism
  • Nutrient interactions: Very high doses of fiber, protein, and zinc supplements may make it more difficult to absorb magnesium, and Vitamin D and calcium may help absorption. More research is needed to confirm this though, especially outside of laboratory conditions (i.e. in the real world).
  • Bisphosphonates: Medications or supplements that are high in magnesium can decrease oral bisphosphonates absorption, such as medications used to treat osteoporosis.
  • Antibiotics: Magnesium can prevent the absorption of some antibiotics.
  • Diuretics: Long-term use of some diuretics can increase the loss of magnesium in urine and lead to depletion. In contrast, other diuretics can reduce magnesium excretion.
  • Proton pump inhibitors (used to decrease stomach acid): When taken for prolonged periods (typically more than a year) these drugs can cause low magnesium levels.
Reference List
Lukaski, H.C. (2001). Magnesium, zinc, and chromium nutrition and athletic performance. Can. J. Appl. Physiol. 26(Suppl.): S13-S22.
Berardi, J., Andrews, R., St. Pierre, B., Scott-Dixon, K., Kollias, H., & DePutter, C. (2017). The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition, Third Edition. Toronto: Precision Nutrition, Inc.
ODell, B. L., & Sunde, R. A. (1997). Handbook of nutritionally essential mineral elements. New York: Marcel Dekker.
Office of Dietary Supplements. (2016, February 11). Office of Dietary Supplements – Magnesium. Retrieved October 16, 2017, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/