Magnesium Foods and Cardiovascular Health

Dietary Magnesium and Magnesum SupplementsA whole slew of news reports have recently covered two studies of the effects of dietary magnesium on cardiovascular health and strokes. It’s certainly good news, as it shows a clear connection between dietary magnesium intake and the two. The problem with the new reports, though, is that many of them simply say magnesium intake and leave the “dietary” part off. This is a big mistake.

People who read these reports may rush out and buy magnesium supplements to improve their cardiovascular performance. And that’s not a good idea, because there was nothing in the studies to connect magnesium supplements to cardiovascular improvement and reduce risk of stroke. The studies specifically looked at dietary magnesium, which means increased magnesium from eating magnesium rich foods.

Now the good news, if you are one of those who are ready to eat magnesium foods rather than popping pills.

In seven prospective studies, with 6477 cases of stroke and 241,378 participants researchers observed

…a modest but statistically significant inverse association between magnesium intake and risk of stroke. An intake increment of 100 mg Mg/d was associated with an 8% reduction in risk of total stroke (combined RR: 0.92; 95% CI: 0.88, 0.97), without heterogeneity among studies (P = 0.66, I2 = 0%). Magnesium intake was inversely associated with risk of ischemic stroke…

Again, this 100mg per day hasn’t been shown to work if you get it from a supplement. To get the effects noted in this study you need to get that 100mg of magnesium from food. It’s about 100 pumpkin seeds, 33 almonds, or a small serving of fish or spinach.

There are times when magnesium supplements have been shown to be effective, but this is not one of them. Be very careful when you use magnesium to treat a certain health issue, as in some cases the supplements to not have the efficacy of dietary magnesium. Don’t rely one blogs (not even this one) to give you this info. Look for the source of the study cited. Copy and paste it into Google, and read the abstract for yourself. It will take all of a minute or two. Make sure the study specifies either supplements or dietary magnesium. If it doesn’t, then it’s safer to assume that only dietary magnesium will work, as that’s often the case.

This particular abstract (Dietary magnesium intake and risk of stroke: a meta-analysis of prospective studies1,2,3,4, Susanna C Larsson, Nicola Orsini, and Alicja Wolk) can be found at the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

be found here.

Spinach and other Magnesium Rich Veggies That Have Too Many Pesticides

Spinach has magnesium... and pesticides?I believe organic is a highly over-rated label, especially in this day and age when USDA regulations are written to favor major food industries. Organic can mean almost anything, and it is not necessarily either healthier or more sustainable. That said, there are some times when organic may be a good idea.

When we know that pesticides are likely to have been heavily used on a certain produce, we may choose to go organic. According to the Environmental Working Group, which recently published a survey of fresh foods that were most exposed to pesticides and those that were least expose to pesticides, some interesting things came up. Celery took the dubious honor of being the most exposed of the group in the study. Celery was followed by peaches and strawberries,and then apples and blueberries. Worse, for those of us who love it for its high magnesium levels, is that spinach made it onto the pesticide baddy list, in position number 8.

This doesn’t mean you can’t eat spinach, simply that you might want to buy organic spinach when you can. If you can’t, make sure you wash it with more than the usual thoroughness.

This should be no surprise, as one of the vegetables I had the most trouble with in shipping from China to Japan was spinach, both frozen and fresh. The leaves just seem to absorb so much, and if they are exposed to pesticides and pollution, they’ll pick it up. So eat your spinach, but lean organic for both the fresh and frozen (please tell me you’re not still eating canned, Popeye).

For the food that got the least exposure to pesticides, they were topped by the humble onion. It were followed by avocado, sweet corn, pineapple and mangoes.

In any case, you should already be washing your leafy vegetables well – whether they are organic or not.

The full list for each is reproduced below.

Pesticide heavy (buy organic):

  1. Celery
  2. Peaches
  3. Strawberries
  4. Apples
  5. Blueberries
  6. Nectarines
  7. Bell peppers
  8. Spinach
  9. Cherries
  10. Kale/Collard greens
  11. Potatoes
  12. Grapes

Relatively pesticide free:

  1. Onions
  2. Avocado
  3. Sweet corn
  4. Pineapple
  5. Mangoes
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Kiwi
  9. Cabbage
  10. Eggplant
  11. Cantaloupe
  12. Watermelon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Sweet potato
  15. Honeydew melon