One of the beauties of living in our modern world is that we have more information than ever on what we can do to harness—and sustain—optimal health. Years of research, coupled with ancient medicine, points us towards what we need to eat, do, and avoid to achieve well-being.
Part of realizing such well-being is found in boosting our diets with foods rich in minerals. Research demonstrates that minerals are central to a myriad of physical functions, and can work together to naturally support your heart’s electrical system, blood pressure, bone density, lung and brain health, and energy levels—even your happiness and facility for managing anxiety.
Magnesium is an essential nutrient powerhouse. Responsible for more than 300 enzyme actions in your body, this mighty mineral naturally supports everything from bone strength to lasting energy. Magnesium is also important for heart health: it organically encourages cardiac fitness by producing the energy that your heart cells need to function. What’s more, magnesium naturally supports the dilation of your blood vessels.
How to get more in your diet: Reach for magnesium-rich foods such as bananas, edamame, almonds and raisins. Or, go for a magnesium-loaded meal by pairing grilled chicken with black beans, cubed avocado, shaved carrots and a dollop of plain yogurt.
Potassium is one of the most crucial minerals for health. It plays a fundamental role in metabolism, electrolytic functions and water balance. Further, potassium is critical for your kidney, heart and other major organs to function optimally. Potassium also naturally helps send more oxygen to your brain, is central to muscle function and naturally supports lower stress levels.
How to get more in your diet: Sweet potatoes, coconut water, kefir and acorn squash are all superb sources of this mineral. For your next meal, stir up a potassium-packed salad with spinach, white beans, mushrooms and beets. Fruit more your thing? Bananas, apples, apricots and peaches boast excellent levels of potassium as well.
Iron might just take the cake as one of the most revered minerals in existence. And for good reason: iron is a vital mineral for making red blood cells and carrying oxygen throughout your body. Additionally, it’s important for your hair, skin and nails—to say nothing of its significance to your mental well-being.
How to get more in your diet: To up your intake of this trace mineral, seek out spirulina (a single ounce contains 44% of your recommended daily value), grass-fed beef, liver and sardines. Happen to be a vegetarian? Opt for spinach and black beans, or toss together an iron-rich trail mix made with shelled pistachios, dark chocolate and raisins. You can also boost iron intake by cooking with cast iron pans.
Found in foods that range from dried figs to boy choy, calcium is an imperative mineral for your bones. Why? It’s the primary mineral that your bones are comprised of, and your body needs to maintain a certain level of calcium in the blood at all times for the healthy function of the heart and other systems.
How to get more in your diet: Dairy products are a boon for naturally bolstering calcium—with low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese being your best bets—but those who are lactose intolerant (or simply interested in going dairy free for a spell) can find equally great levels of calcium in a variety of foods.
Leading choices include turnip greens, kale, seaweed, black-eyed peas, white beans and sardines. For a no-cow-required breakfast that’s brimming with this indispensable mineral, relish a bowl of oatmeal topped with blackstrap molasses—and wash it all down with a glass of fortified orange juice.