As I mentioned previously (and will probably mention many more times over the next 6 months), A is pregnant. One of the most common pieces of pregnancy health advice you will hear is the importance of pregnant women consuming plenty of folate.
What is folate?
Folate or Folic Acid is Vitamin B9. The B Vitamins are a class of water-soluable vitamins used by the body to aid in cell metabolism. Folate is necessary for cell division. Because pregnancy is a time of rapid and pro-longed cell division, getting enough folate is especially important for pregnant women and for women trying to get pregnant. Consuming at least 400 micrograms (mcg) before becoming pregnant and 600mcg can help prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida which affects 1500 babies each year.
Folate vs Folic Acid
Many places will use the terms “folate” and “folic acid” interchangably, but they are actually different. Folate is what is known as “bioavailable.” That means it is in the form your body will use it. It is the compound that the body uses in cell division. When you are getting your Folate from fruits, vegetables, and nuts, it is coming in the form of folate. Folic Acid, on the other hand, is the form most commenly found in suppliments such as multi-vitamins and in enriched flour. The body needs to metabolize folic acid to produce folate.
Top 10 Foods High in Folate
Beans, beans, the magical fruit! For folate, you can’t go wrong with beans. Lentils contain 90% DV per cup! Other good sources include pinto beans (74%), garbonzo beans (aka hummus) have 71% DV, black and navy beans (64% DV), and kidney beans with 57% DV.
2) Dark Leafy Greens
Spinach is a superfood. Not only is it high in iron and fiber, but it’s also one of the best sources of folate. One cup of spinach contains 65% of your DV of Folate. Other leafy greens for a folate punch include mustard greens, collards, and romaine.
Asparagus is a biennial vegetable in which only the female sprouts are eaten. Bet you didn’t know that! I love it brushed with olive oil and grilled. Contains 262mcg of Folate per cup, which works out to 65% DV.
Remember the cartoon Doug? Almost everything in the show was named after some sort of food, including the hit band, the Beets. You can’t prepare beets a way that I won’t like, but my favorite is Harvard beets. One cup contains 34% DV of folate.
5) Citrus Fruits
If you are looking for some fruit to snack on, you can’t go wrong with citrus. Not only are citrus high in Vitamin C, giving pregnant women a much needed boost to their weekened immune systems, but they are higher in folate than any other fruit. To maximize your B9 intake, go with papaya. It contains 29% DV.
6) Brussels sprouts
I heard a rumor that not everyone likes brussels sprouts. That can’t be true! They are awesome. And one cup is packed with 25% DV of folate.
Nuts are another great source of folate. While not technically a nut (it’s a legume, which is basically a bean), peanuts top the list of folate sources in nuts with 22% DV per cup. Allergic to peanuts? Try sunflower seeds (21%), flax (14% DV), or almonds (12%)
Next time you are out for Mexican, be sure to add the quacamole. Half an avoccado contains 22% DV of folate.
Corn is the most ubiquitous crop in America. It also contains 20% DV of folate per cup.
I eat zucchini and yellow squash all summer long. In the fall and winter, spaghetti squash and butternut find their way onto my table. Winter squash has 14%DV per cup and summer has slightly less as 10%.
This is just a short list. It’s almost impossible to not get enough folate these days. Flours used in commercially sold baked goods are always fortified in folate. If you have a tendency to drink energy shots, B Vitamins, such as folate, are always prominent ingredients. You will also find them in some fortified waters, such as the XXX flavor of Vitamin Water (my favorite).
What are your favorite sources of Folate?