This is a setting-the-record-straight kind of post. It’s the season of chocolate, and I want to address what is fast becoming a popular misconception.
It’s true that relative to a lot of other foods, dark chocolate is high in magnesium.
That is, to get about 100 mg of magnesium (a third or a quarter of what most adults need every day), you could have:
- half a box of baby spinach leaves (i.e. a very, very large salad)
- 1.5 cups of cooked lentils (really filling!)
- …wait, whoa, two-thirds of a very large bar of dark chocolate!
What do I mean by ‘very large’?
You’re probably familiar with the Lindt chocolate bars that come in 70%, 80%, 90% cacao and other varieties. They’re everywhere. The tall, wide, thin bars that you break into reasonably sized squares.
You would have to eat ⅔ of a large Lindt bar to get 100 mg of magnesium. Not a good idea. It’s just too much chocolate!
THE HEALTHIER ALTERNATIVE
Cacao powder is much more promising, offering about 40 mg of magnesium in each tablespoon.
You can add cacao to healthy, sugar-free foods every day (unlike Lindt bars). Here are a few ideas:
- Try adding a tablespoon to smoothies, especially if you’re using a very sweet base, like frozen bananas, cherries, or Vega protein powders. The cacao balances some of that sweet.
- In these chilly months, whip up some hot cacao using a plant-based milk and a low-glycemic or natural sweetener, like stevia or maple syrup.
- Get creative with raw food desserts, like vegan puddings, dairy-free raw cheesecakes, brownies and other treats.
Just to be clear, though, I’m talking about raw cacao, a superfood – not dutch processed cocoa typically used in baking. In addition to powdered cacao, you can find raw cacao in ‘nibs’.
Be aware that just like sugary chocolate, cacao may confer a bit of a buzz. It does contain stimulants.
HOW MUCH MAGNESIUM CAN YOU REALLY GET FROM CACAO?
Realistically, even if you become a big-time raw cacao enthusiast, you probably won’t use more than a tablespoon a day, contributing about 10% of your magnesium needs.
So, the next time you hear that dark chocolate is a good source of magnesium, just smile. You and I both know now that magnesium isn’t the #1 reason to choose dark chocolate.