Having adequate folate levels is essential at every age. Think of folate as a supernutrient that’s responsible for the growth and repair of virtually every cell within the body.
Folate has proven to be particularly important during pregnancy – low folate status during pregnancy has been associated with neural tube defects which are serious birth defects of the brain, spine, or spinal cord in the developing baby.
If you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, your doctor has most likely advised you to take folic acid for this exact reason, either as part of prenatal vitamins or as a separate supplement.
Folate is essential for good health.
Folic acid, however, is not the same thing as folate.
Folate is a natural form of this very important compound, whereas folic acid is made synthetically.
Dietary folate is recognized by the body and easily metabolized in the digestive system. When fortified foods and folic acid supplements are consumed, however, folic acid has to be converted in a somewhat more complicated process.
This is especially important for pregnant women and those that are going to become pregnant, because they might not be getting the protective benefits against neural tube defects.
The good news is that while relying on folic acid may be tricky, you cannot do any harm by eating more of the naturally occurring folate that’s found in many foods.
32 Nutritious Foods High 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 contain antinutrients such as phytates which interfere with the absorption of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. SOAKING legumes can greatly reduce these antinutrients and improves the absorption of nutrients, including folate.
Rinse thoroughly to remove any debris and either soak legumes in water overnight in room temperature or for at least 6-8 hours, using a ratio of about 3 cups of water per 1 cup of legumes. After soaking, the water will contain the elements you’re trying to get rid of. Drain and rinse until water runs clear, cook.
If you don’t have time for a lengthy soak, you can try a quick soak method instead. Rinse well, put in water using the same ratio and bring to a boil. Boil for 1-2 minutes, let stand for 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) / 58.2 mcg — 15% DV (raw)
- 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 – some of the best sources of folate, guaranteed to give you a folate boost naturally. Eat some of them, or eat them all!
The neural tube in the developing baby closes about 28 days after conception – very early in pregnancy when some women aren’t yet aware they’re pregnant. Eating high-folate foods is therefore crucial not only AFTER conception but also BEFORE getting pregnant!
Disclosure: This article is not a substitute for a medical treatment or an advice provided by your physician.