Cooking Magnesium Rich Foods

Steamed spinach losing magnesium

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There is always the question of whether cooking causes the loss of magnesium in otherwise high magnesium foods. The answer would appear to be, “sometimes.” While many assume that there cannot be any loss as long as the cooking liquid is preserved and consumed (as with soup), and because magnesium is a mineral that cannot be broken downs so easily, there are some exceptions.

Michigan State University has conducted research that suggests the following:

The impact of cooking and processing on magnesium can vary greatly from food to food, since magnesium is found in different forms in different types of food. In some foods, where a greater percent of magnesium is found in water-soluble form, blanching (boiling or steaming for one to four minutes), steaming, or boiling of these foods can result in a substantial loss of magnesium. For example, about one third of the magnesium is lost in spinach after blanching. Similarly, when navy beans are cooked, they lose 65 percent of their magnesium.

In other foods that are rich in magnesium, like almonds or peanuts, there is very little loss of magnesium either from roasting or from processing into almond or peanut butter (as long as the whole almond or peanut is used).

Note that the above includes steaming. When the magnesium is in a water soluble form, it can disappear with the steam. Even with a lid on the pot, steam will escape, though at least some of it can be retained that way. Whether navy beans lose 65% of their magnesium when they are covered or not is something I could not find the answer to. Yet, it seems wise to assume there is some loss.

Spinach is more complicated. Raw spinach contains many phytates and oxalates. While phytates and oxalates are good for you in several ways, they also have the unfortunate effect of inhibiting magnesium absorption. Cooking spinach greatly reduces the phytates and oxalates, but it also reduces the other nutrients, and much magnesium is lost with the water or steam. The million dollar question is whether you lose more magnesium in the cooking than you would from the inhibiting effect of the phytates and oxalates. Such calculations make my head hurt, so I decide by choosing whether I prefer my spinach cooked or raw for each particular meal – and let nature sort it out. It never hurts to have a little variety in your diet.

None of this gives us any strong reason to cook or not cook our foods, but it is good to keep in mind. If you are trying to increase your magnesium levels, try to trap all the steam you can when cooking. If you can’t, just make up for it by eating more magnesium foods elsewhere.

"Please, no! My doctor tells me my magnesium levels are too low as it is!" - Image from



Best Sources of Magnesium

Oat Bran or Wheat Bran for Breakfast

Bran and FruitNow this is how we start the day, especially if you already eat cereal. While raw oat bran offers about 225 mg of magnesium per 100 grams (and 256 calories), raw wheat bran offers near 350 mg of magnesium at half the calories. You are well on your way here, but there are a couple things to remember. These weights are dry weight. The addition of water will help you to eat more, but most water has very little magnesium content.  They’ll still be fairly high in magnesium, but no magnesium super food.
The other thing to remember is not to overdo it. Too much bran can cause bloating, gas and diarrhea. Take it slowly, and drink lots of water. The more bran you eat, the more water you need. If you stop yourself up with too much raw bran, it can inhibit your body’s absorption of other minerals. If you are wondering how to eat raw bran without feeling like a horse, try mixing with milk or even soymilk. A dd some sweetening in the form of honey or raisins, or others fruits. Add some cinnamon for a little tang.
The nice thing about raw bran for breakfast is that you are almost certain to cover your magnesium needs for the rest of the day by just eating normally.

Pumpkin Seeds

One Pumkin Seed - One Mg MagnesiumPumpkin seeds are in a category of their own so far as magnesium rich foods go. At 535 mg per 100 gram serving, you are covered for the whole day. The advantage of pumpkin seeds is that they are very suitable to snacking. Wherever you are, at any time of day, you can pop a few pumpkin seeds in your mouth and get roughly a milligram of magnesium per seed. Can’t go too wrong here, except watch the calories (over 500 per 100 grams).


Chocolate for delicious magnesiumThe estimates of magnesium in chocolate range 100 mg to over 500 mg per 100 grams of chocolate servings. Milk chocolate or other highly diluted chocolates are well below even the 100 mg figure, and not worth considering for their magnesium value. Yet, it’s all here at the top of the list because most of us love to eat chocolate – so here’s an excuse, sort of. The thing to remember is that raw cocoa beans would be your absolute best source for magnesium, though they are certainly not to everyone’s taste, and not all that easy to find. To make them easier to eat, even enjoyable, try grinding the whole beans in a food processor, and sprinkling them on yogurt or ice cream. Or mix them with a drink in a juicer. Or add them to tea. If even this is more than you want to deal with, just take some cocoa powder and make an extra strong hot chocolate, or eat sweetened dark chocolate (at least 89% cocoa content). For more information about chocolate check out our posts about the benefits of chocolate and health chocolate scams.

Almonds and Other Nuts or Seeds

Almonds each have 3 mg of magnesium Almonds, with cashews running a close second, are excellent sources of magnesium. 100 grams of almonds pack in roughly 180 mg of magnesium, while 100 grams of cashews have almost 170 mg. Broken down, this means one almond is equivalent to 3 mg of magnesium. In fact, if we look at it that way, brazil nuts are super sources, with about 7 mg of magnesium in each nut (about 145 mg per 100 grams of brazil nuts). Pine nuts and just about all other nuts are also good sources of magnesium. Raw nuts, of course, are best (when they can be eaten).


Spinach is rich in magnesiumSpinach. No surprise here- we’ve always known it was healthy. A mere 100 grams of spinach is very easy to eat, very low in calories, and very high in magnesium as well as other great nutrients. Before turning up your nose at this food, try some treats such as spinach salad with bacon dressing, or creamy spinach soup. See our spinach recipes page for more. And read one to see a great partner for spinach.


While many fish are good sources of magnesium, halibut is the king of magnesium rich foods…er, seafoods. Halinut, spinach and garlic cream sauce magnesium super mealA mere 3.5 oz. (100 gram) serving delivers a solid 107 mg of magnesium. Now halibut doesn’t have much taste, which is either a good or bad thing, depending on how much you like fish. Which is why it needs to be cooked with flourish. And there’s no better partner that our friend above – spinach. If you have doubts about the deliciousness that this powerhouse high magnesium meal can bring you, just look at this picture of halibut with spinach and garlic cream sauce. What a wonderful way to cure a magnesium deficiency!

Beans – Black or White

Beans with spinach provide a very high magnesium mealBeans, glorious beans…

Both white beans and black beans pack anywhere between 110-135 mg of magnesium rich goodness to each cup of boiled beans. That means bean soup!

White beans are high in potassium (but low in sodium), iron, manganese and soluble fiber as well. Soluble fiber is what helps your body rid itself of cholesterol. White beans also contain protease inhibitors, which are know to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

Black beans are rich in protein, iron and vitamin B. Black beans also help reduce cholesterol, help maintain balanced blood sugar levels and (of course) prevent constipation. All of these factors help to lessen to incidence of heart disease, diabetes and many gastrointestinal disorders. Black beans are also rich in phytochemicals, which are substances found only in plant foods that are know to help fight cancer.

They also couldn’t be easier to eat, as there are a myriad of black bean recipes and white bean recipes. These are among the easiest ways to take in magnesium rich foods and to keep your body fit.

(Click Here for a Full List of Magnesium Rich Foods)

The full FDA list of magnesium content in foods is available from the FDA website.
Otherwise, go to our own list of magnesium rich foods to see some of the best.

A Note on Magnesium Rich Foods Lists

Kombu is magnesium rich, but dangerous in quantity (if you can eat that much)

Toxic amounts of this health food are needed to impact magnesium levels.

Magnesium rich foods lists often include things like herbs, cocoa powder and kombu kelp (a tough and chewy seaweed). Great, except they are measuring magnesium per 100 gram (about 3.5 ounces) serving. Now go and try to down 100 grams of coriander. That would be more than a cup, if dry, and a heck of a lot even fresh. Or how about a cup of cocoa powder (not hot cocoa with milk, just the powder)? Don’t even think about the kombu. You’ll be chewing all day, and get an overdose of iodine long before you replenish your magnesium levels. So go ahead to the other lists, and view their advice – usually written by some overworked woman at a content sweatshop in Mumbai.

(Full List of Magnesium Rich Foods)

You see how useless these unedited lists can be? I assume you are here to learn about which foods high in magnesium can help you avoid magnesium deficiency. And by that, I mean foods that you can enough of as a normal person to get the benefits of their magnesium content. Well, here’s a list of magnesium rich foods that you can actually use, and actually consume without some sort of superhuman and dangerous effort. Let’s get started….