Having adequate folate (folic acid) levels is essential regardless of age. Think of folate as a supernutrient that’s responsible for the growth and repair of virtually every cell within the body. Super important job, right?
If there is a single most important time of our lives to have sufficient levels of folate, it would be pregnancy. Low folate status during pregnancy has been associated with neural tube defects which are serious birth defects of the brain, spine, and spinal cord in the developing baby.
The neural tube in the developing baby closes about 28 days after conception – very early in pregnancy when some women aren’t even yet aware they’re pregnant. Eating foods naturally high in folate is therefore crucial not only AFTER conception but also BEFORE getting pregnant!
So, let’s talk about foods high in folate, shall we?
I want to make it clear that folate is NOT folic acid even though they’re often lumped together. Folate is the natural form of this very important nutrient. Folic acid is a synthetic substitute of folate with some very different qualities.
32 Nutritious Foods Highest in Folate (Folic Acid):
Data acquired from nutritiondata.self.com.
[Amount of folate in mcg — Daily Value percentage]
Foods high in folate (folic acid) – LEGUMES
(Serving size: 1 CUP, cooked.)
- Black beans: 256 mcg — 64% DV
- Garbanzo beans (chickpeas): 282 mcg — 71% DV
- Kidney beans: 131 mcg — 33% DV
- Lentils: 358 mcg — 90% DV
- Navy beans: 255 mcg — 64% DV
- Pinto beans: 294 mcg — 74% DV
- Split peas: 127 mcg — 32% DV
Legumes are some of the best sources of folate out there, without a doubt.
Because legumes also contain antinutrients such as phytates which interfere with the absorption of nutrients, they should always be soaked before cooking. Soaking will make legumes more nutritious and digestible while also shortening the cooking time.
HOW TO SOAK LEGUMES?
Traditional soaking method: Rinse legumes thoroughly to remove any debris and soak in water (room temperature or refrigerator) overnight or for at least 8-ish hours. You’ll want to use enough water, roughly about 3 cups of water per 1 cup of dry legumes. You can change the water during soaking, even several times, or leave the soaking legumes be.
After soaking, the water will contain the elements you’re trying to get rid of. Drain and rinse until water runs clear before cooking (cook until soft).
Quick soak: If you don’t have time for a lengthy soak, you can try this method instead. After rinsing, put legumes in water using the same ratio as mentioned above and bring to a boil. Boil on high for 1-2 minutes, then let stand for about 1 hour. Drain and rinse until water runs clear, cook.
Foods high in folate (folic acid) – FRUITS
- Avocado: 163 mcg — 41% DV (1 avocado)
- Bananas: 23.6mcg — 6% DV (1 medium banana)
- Orange: 55.2 mcg — 14% DV (1 large orange)
- Papaya: 53.2 mcg — 13% DV (1 cup)
- Strawberries: 36.5 mcg — 9% DV (1 cup)
Foods high in folate (folic acid) – VEGETABLES
(Serving size: 1 CUP, cooked – unless specified otherwise.)
- Asparagus: 89.4 mcg — 22% DV (4 spears)
- Beets: 136 mcg — 34% DV
- Broccoli: 168.4 mcg — 42% DV
- Brussels sprouts: 12.6 mcg — 3% DV (1 sprout)
- Cauliflower: 54.6 mcg — 14% DV
- Collard greens: 177 mcg — 44% DV
- Mustard greens: 102 mcg — 26% DV
- Okra: 73.6 mcg — 18% DV
- Peas: 101 mcg — 25% DV
- Romaine lettuce: 63.9 mcg — 16% DV (raw)
- Spinach: 263 mcg — 66% DV (cooked – cca 180g) / 58.2 mcg — 15% DV (raw – cca 30g)
- Turnip greens: 170 mg — 42% DV
Foods high in folate (folic acid) – ANIMAL SOURCES
- Beef Liver: 70.8 mcg — 18% DV (1 oz; 28 g)
- Chicken liver: 162 mcg — 40% DV (1 oz; 28 g)
- Eggs: 22 mcg — 5% DV (1 large egg)
Foods high in folate (folic acid) – NUTS AND SEEDS
- Almonds: 45.5 mcg — 11% DV (1 cup)
- Peanuts: 212 mcg — 53% DV (1 cup)
- Sunflower seeds: 79.5 mcg — 20% DV (1/4 cup)
- Walnuts: 115 mcg — 29% DV (1 cup)
Also high in folate (folic acid):
- Wheat germ: 323 mcg — 81% DV (1 cup)
There you have it.
These foods are some of the best sources of folate. Eat some of them, or eat them all!
Most of all, eat them regularly.
Especially if you’re pregnant or TTC.
Want more folate tips?
- Fresh local greens will likely have more folate than store-bought greens. Natural folates are not very stable and tend to degrade easily when exposed to heat, light, and oxygen.
- As much as three-quarters of folate can be lost during food storage and cooking. While you’ll need to cook some of the foods mentioned in this article, eating vegetables in their raw state is much preferred to cooking.
- When cooking, gently steam vegetables to prevent great folate loss. Because boiling causes folate to leach in the water, try to incorporate that veggie water into cooking if you can (add it to soup, sauce…).
- Berries last for months when frozen without losing folate.
- Foods with a high vitamin C content are more likely to retain folate.
- Need a quick folate boost? Make a green smoothie! There is no wrong way to make a green smoothie unless you forget the greens. Go crazy! (And don’t forget the greens.) Cheers!