Five delicious recipes to calm restless legs, energize the body and help you sleep better
Magnesium is critical to some 600 processes in the human body and yet few of us know where to get it or how much of it we need every day.
If someone asked you to make a mental list of foods rich in vitamin C, it would probably take you half a minute to come up with five: oranges, amlas, lemons, guavas, mangoes.
Same for iron: did you also think of spinach, red meat, quinoa, pumpkin seeds and daal?
Now try listing one food item rich in magnesium.
If you can’t immediately recall which foods are rich in this mineral, you are not alone. Magnesium is critical to some 600 processes in the human body and yet few of us know where to get it or how much of it we need every day.
To understand just how critical magnesium is, consider this evidence: without magnesium, none of the cells in our body would be able to break food down for energy. Neurotransmitters — chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine that help the brain cells communicate — would lose their sharpness. Our body’s DNA repair mechanism would suffer. We would lose sleep. And we would not be able to relax our muscles - indeed, people who work out regularly need more magnesium from their food than those who don’t.
Signs of magnesium deficiency include fatigue, muscle spasms, weakness, nausea, depression, restlessness, numbness and a tingling sensation. If the deficiency is severe, the symptoms may include irregular heart rhythm and even seizures. Now research has also linked magnesium deficiency to restless legs syndrome - a nerve disorder that makes you want to move your legs constantly. All of this can be avoided by taking 400-420 mg of dietary magnesium daily for grown men and 310-320 mg of magnesium daily for adult women.
This, then brings us to the crux of the matter: where can you get this much magnesium? The answer, in these three super-delicious recipes:
1. Blanched spinach, avocado and pumpkin seeds salad
- 100 grams spinach, blanched
- 1 avocado, diced
- 4 tablespoons pumpkin seeds (shelled)
- 3 teaspoons olive oil
How to make it:
To blanch the spinach, put a big pot of water to boil. Add a pinch of salt to the water. Wash the spinach well. If you’ve got baby spinach, there’s no need to chop it. If the spinach leaves are bigger, roughly chop them up. Now, dunk the spinach in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Take it out and run it under cold water.
Then, in a large bowl, toss the spinach and diced avocado with about four tablespoons of shelled pumpkin seeds, a dash of olive oil and lemon juice. Adjust the seasoning.
Let’s talk numbers: Four tablespoons or about an ounce of pumpkin seeds (without shells) contain 168 mg of magnesium. An avocado has about 50 mg of magnesium, and 100 grams of raw spinach has 75 mg of magnesium. Total: 293 mg of magnesium
2. Smooth peanut butter and dark chocolate/cocoa powder shake
- 1 tablespoon of smooth peanut butter
- 30 grams of dark chocolate or 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup milk
How to make it:
If you love peanut butter it may be a good idea to make your own at home (store-bought varieties contain sugar and emulsifiers). In a preheated oven, roast shelled peanuts at 180 degrees Celsius for about 10 minutes or till the peanuts become golden and shiny (with their own oil). Cool the peanuts and blend them with peanut oil and a little bit of salt and sugar for three to four minutes until you get a super-smooth consistency. Store the peanut butter in a jar.
For the shake, put all the ingredients in a blender and mix till smooth. Add ice if you like it cold, or heat up in the microwave for a hot drink. Peanut butter already has some sugar. But if you like your peanut butter-chocolate shake sweeter, add sugar or a sugar alternative to taste.
Let’s talk numbers:
One tablespoon of smooth peanut butter has 25 mg of magnesium, 30 grams dark chocolate (about 70% cocoa) has 50 mg of magnesium and one tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder has 27 mg of magnesium. The cup of milk adds 24 mg of magnesium, bringing this one drink to 100 - 123 mg of magnesium.
3. Home-made muesli with oatmeal, raisins, cashews and almond flakes, served with milk
- 50 grams of oatmeal
- 10-12 raisins
- 10-12 dry roasted cashews
- 10-12 almonds, roasted and cut into flakes
- 1 cup milk
How to make it:
Heat the milk and add the oatmeal and raisins to it. Cook over a low flame for a minute or two. Pour into a bowl and sprinkle the roasted nuts on top. Raisins can be quite sweet, but if you like your morning oats sweeter, add a spoonful of honey (minuscule amounts of magnesium).
Let’s talk numbers: You can also use other grains like shredded wheat and wheat bran in your muesli for extra fibre and nutrients. Fifty grams of oatmeal contains 13 mg of magnesium, 10-12 raisins have about 1 mg of magnesium, 10-12 dry roasted cashews have over 40 mg of magnesium, a dozen roasted almonds have 30 mg of magnesium and a cup of whole milk has 24 mg of magnesium. This brings the total to 108 mg of magnesium.
4. Baby spinach, banana, apple and chia seeds smoothie
- 100 grams baby spinach, raw
- 1 banana
- 1 cup yoghurt
- 1 apple
- 1 teaspoon chia seeds, soaked overnight
How to make it:
Wash the spinach and apple properly. In a mixer, blend all the ingredients together till smooth. Banana and apple add sweetness to the smoothie, but if you like it sweeter, add a teaspoonful of honey.
Let’s talk numbers: A hundred grams of raw baby spinach has 75 mg of magnesium, a banana brings about 32 mg, a cupful of yoghurt contains 42 mg of magnesium, an apple has 9 mg and just a teaspoonful of chia seeds adds about 15 mg of magnesium. Total: 170 mg
5. Roasted chicken breast, veggies and baked potato (with skin)
- 100 grams of chicken breast
- 100-120 grams potatoes with skin
- ½ cup of broccoli and carrots
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Salt - lots of it
- Pepper powder to taste
- 1 teaspoon paprika
How to make it:
To prep the potatoes, roughly cut them into one-inch cubes. Soak them in cold water for 15 minutes. Dry them, and toss them in olive oil and seasoning. Spread them on a baking sheet and put them in a preheated oven at about 230 degrees celsius for 20-30 minutes till tender.
Brine the chicken breasts for 15 minutes in lukewarm saltwater. Rinse and pat dry. Generously rub the oil, salt, pepper and paprika on the chicken and veggies. Place them on a lined baking tray. Put the tray in the oven where the potatoes are already cooking away - cook the chicken for about 15 minutes or till it is golden brown on the outside and cooked through on the inside.
Once done, add butter on top of the potatoes and serve with the chicken and veggies.
Let’s talk numbers: Roast chicken breast (100 grams) contains about 25 mg of magnesium, the baked potatoes with skin have about 43 mg. The half-cup of broccoli and carrots bring about 15 mg of magnesium to the table. A single teaspoon of paprika contains 4 mg of magnesium. The total comes to 87 mg of magnesium.
Read our tips on What makes a recipe healthy for more information.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.
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