A diet rich in magnesium could help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and related complications such as stroke and coronary heart disease, researchers suggest.
Scientists from Zhejiang University and Zhengzhou University in China found that people who ate the most dietary magnesium, found in foods such as spinach, almonds and avocado, had a 26 per cent lower risk of type 2 diabetes compared to those who consumed the least magnesium.
Lead author Dr Fudi Wang, Zhejiang University, said: “Low levels of magnesium in the body have been associated with a range of diseases but no conclusive evidence has been put forward on the link between dietary magnesium and health risks.”
Wang’s team say their analysis on dietary magnesium and health outcomes is the largest to date, with over one million participants involved across nine countries.
They wanted to investigate the effects of dietary magnesium because of its functional role within the body: it manages glucose metabolism, DNA and protein production.
Data was taken from 40 studies conducted between 1999 and 2016, with dietary magnesium consumption determined using self-reported food questionnaires or 24-hour dietary recall.
As well as having a reduced type 2 diabetes risk, those in the highest category of dietary magnesium had a 10 per cent lower risk of coronary heart disease and 12 per cent lower risk of stroke; both are common complications among people with diabetes.
The researchers stress how increased consumption of magnesium rich foods could be beneficial for overall health.
“Our meta-analysis provides the most up-to-date evidence supporting a link between the role of magnesium in food and reducing the risk of disease,” added Wang.
“Our findings will be important for informing the public and policy makers on dietary guidelines to reduce magnesium deficiency related health risks.”
The study was published online in the journal BMC Medicine.

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