Lower your risk of gallstones

April 17, 2008

There is a simple way to do it – just make sure your diet contains plenty of the mineral magnesium. According to a new study, a diet rich in magnesium can reduce the risk of developing this very painful condition.

Researchers studied data of more than 42,000 men from ages 40 to 75 and found that those with the highest magnesium intake decreased their risk of gallstones by as much as 33 percent. Magnesium helps to keep down triglyceride levels and raise the levels of HDL (the ‘good’ cholesterol)in the blood. Cholesterol is a major component in the formation of gallstones, in fact some gallstones are made up entirely of cholesterol,so it makes sense that higher magnesium levels will help to stop the gallstones from forming in the first place.

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant vitamin in the body, with 40 percent of it being found in our bones. It has plenty of other health benefits too and is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps your heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system, and keeps bones strong. Magnesium also helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure, and is known to be involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis. Research is also now focusing its role in preventing and managing disorders such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

What foods provide magnesium? Green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli are good sources of magnesium because the centre of the chlorophyll molecule (which gives green vegetables their colour) contains magnesium. Beans and peas, nuts and pumpkin seeds, and whole, unrefined grains are also good sources as is halibut and, strangely enough, peppermint. In spite of its benefits, magnesium consumption has declined over the years, partly as a result of our food becoming subject to so many more processes that deplete the magnesium, along with many other vitamins and minerals. As ever, a varied, wholegrain and natural food diet is your best bet.


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