15 Meals Excessive in Folate—Plus Advantages of This Important Vitamin

Earlier than I turned pregnant, folate wasn’t a high precedence—and for a lot of, that’s typically the case. Folate tends to fly below the radar up till being pregnant. It’s solely then that healthcare practitioners emphasize the significance of folate (and its cousin, folic acid). In spite of everything, folate and folic acid assist a rising child’s mind and spinal twine. Extra on that, under. At any fee, folate is crucial. Past its necessity for being pregnant, we want folate every day. So, let’s take a more in-depth have a look at folate, what it’s, why we want it, and the powerhouse meals excessive in folate so we are able to get extra of it. 

Featured picture by Michelle Nash.

Picture by Belathée Photography

What’s folate and why do I want it?

Folate is the pure type of vitamin B9. It’s present in meals. A water-soluble vitamin, it has many vital features within the physique. Particularly, it helps correct fetal progress, reduces the danger of beginning defects, and aids in wholesome pink blood cell division. Folate helps kind DNA, RNA, and is concerned in protein metabolism. It performs a key function in breaking down homocysteine, an amino acid that may be dangerous in disproportionate quantities. In essence, your physique wants folate to make DNA and different genetic materials. 

The Finest Folate Meals Sources

Folate, aka vitamin B9, is of course discovered in lots of meals—both plant-based and animal-derived. For instance, folate is current in darkish, leafy inexperienced greens, legumes, beans, and nuts. Fruits wealthy in folate embrace oranges, lemons, bananas, melons, and strawberries. A kind of folate can also be discovered within the type of man-made meals, like cereals, pasta, and dietary supplements. That is the place folic acid comes into play. 

Picture by Michelle Nash

How a lot folate do I want?

The quantity of folate you want will depend on your age. It additionally will depend on whether or not or not you’re attempting to conceive (or are pregnant). For those who’re over 19 years previous, it is best to intention for 400 mcg DFE. However, pregnant and lactating women require 600 mcg DFE and 500 mcg DFE, respectively. Additionally, those who regularly drink alcohol should aim for at least 600 mcg DFE of folate. Their needs are slightly higher as alcohol can impair folate’s absorption. As always, consult with your physician about your body’s needs. 

For a bit of context, the Recommended Dietary Allowance for folate is listed as micrograms of Dietary Folate Equivalents (DFE). And folate equivalents refers to both folate and folic acid. In essence, the measure of mcg DFE is used because your body absorbs more folic acid from fortified foods and dietary supplements than folate found naturally in foods. In comparison to folate, you actually need less folic acid to get your recommended amount. To put that into perspective, 400 mcg of folate and 240 mcg of folic acid are both equal to 400 mcg DFE. Capiche?

Signs of Folate Deficiency

Folate deficiency is often called “folate deficiency anemia (or folic acid deficiency),” and it’s attributable to an absence of dietary folate. It means you have got lower-than-normal quantities of folic acid, a sort of B vitamin, in your blood. How does it occur? A couple of methods: You probably have an unbalanced and unhealthy weight-reduction plan, usually misuse alcohol, and/or observe a fad weight-reduction plan that doesn’t contain consuming good sources of folate. Fortunately, it’s treatable by a medical skilled and sometimes resolves itself inside one month. The signs of folate deficiency are sometimes delicate, however they embrace:

  • Fatigue
  • Tongue swelling 
  • Mouth sores
  • Fatigue
  • Untimely grey hair
  • Development points
Picture by Michelle Nash

Well being Results of Low Folate

Though research are nonetheless present process, current research shows that low levels of folate can cause the following:

  1. Neural tube defects. Taking folic acid (and consuming folate) before becoming pregnant and during early pregnancy helps prevent neural tube defects in infants. Neural tube defects are main beginning defects in a child’s mind or backbone.
  2. Most cancers. Folate that’s naturally current in meals might lower the risk of a number of types of most cancers. However folate dietary supplements might need totally different results on most cancers danger relying on how a lot the individual takes and when. Extra analysis is required to know the roles of dietary folate and folic acid dietary supplements in most cancers danger.
  3. Melancholy. Individuals with low blood ranges of folate may be extra more likely to have depression. As well as, they may not reply as effectively to antidepressant therapy as folks with regular folate ranges. Folate dietary supplements, notably those who include methylfolate (5-methyl-THF), may make antidepressant medicines simpler. Nonetheless, extra analysis is required to higher perceive the function of folate in despair.
  4. Coronary heart illness and stroke. Folic acid dietary supplements decrease ranges of homocysteine, an amino acid within the blood that’s linked to a better danger of heart problems. Dietary supplements don’t straight lower the danger of coronary heart illness, however some research have proven {that a} mixture of folic acid with different B-vitamins helps prevent stroke.
  5. Preterm beginning. Taking folic acid may scale back the danger of getting a untimely child or a child with beginning defects, corresponding to sure sorts of coronary heart issues. However extra analysis is required to know how folic acid impacts the danger of those situations.
Picture by Belathée Photography

Folate for a Healthy Pregnancy

As mentioned, folate and folic acid are important for pregnancy as a result of they might help stop beginning defects, corresponding to spina bifida. Moreover, folate prevents sure coronary heart abnormalities, cleft palate, and cleft lip. It additionally lowers the danger of growing anemia, miscarriage, preterm supply, and low beginning weight. Folate is offered in multivitamins and prenatal nutritional vitamins, an vital a part of pre-conception and everything of being pregnant. In truth, folate is crucial for breastfeeding moms, too.

In dietary dietary supplements, folate is normally within the type of folic acid, however methylfolate (5-methyl-THF) can also be used. Dietary dietary supplements containing methylfolate may be higher than folic acid for people who’ve a sure mutation in a gene known as MTHFR. With that exact gene mutation, our bodies can use this methylfolate extra simply than folic acid. If you’re trying to get pregnant, take into account getting your genes examined to find out when you’ve got the MTHFR genetic variation. This provides you with the ability to make knowledgeable decisions about your distinctive dietary wants, together with whether or not or not it is best to select prenatal and fertility supplements that include the energetic, methylfolate type of folic acid.

The Distinction Between Folate and Folic Acid

Typically used interchangeably, folate and folic acid are two totally different compounds. Folic acid is the artificial type of folate. Obtainable as a dietary complement, folic acid is the lab-made type of folate (vitamin B9). As talked about, each folate and folic acid are needed for making and sustaining wholesome cells within the physique. Some prenatal nutritional vitamins include folate and most include folic acid. At any fee, they’re a vital part of prenatal nutritional vitamins.

By way of which is best, sometimes dietary folate is a safer choice than folic acid. In spite of everything, extreme unmetabolized folic acid may cause a number of well being points. Nonetheless, in case your physician has prescribed folic acid for sure well being situations, that’s doubtless as a result of your physique might not be met by dietary folate alone.

Picture by Michelle Nash

15 Meals Excessive in Folate

For those who’re consuming all kinds of plant and/or animal-based meals, you’re doubtless getting sufficient folate. Folate is of course current in lots of components, together with greens, fruits, nuts, beans, peas, seafood, eggs, dairy merchandise, meat, poultry, and grains. Spinach, liver, and asparagus are among the many meals with the highest folate levels.

Back in 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began requiring manufacturers to add 140 mcg folic acid/100 g to enriched breads, cereals, flours, pastas, rice, and other grain products. This was, in part, to reduce the risk of neural tube defects. Because cereals and grains are widely consumed in America, these products have become important contributors of folic acid to the American diet. Beyond processed foods, these are 15 whole foods high in folate:

  • Avocados
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Eggs
  • Flaxseeds
  • Lentils
  • Okra
  • Oranges
  • Papaya
  • Spinach
  • Walnuts 
  • Wheat germ

The Best Recipes That Feature Foods High in Folate

Avocado Toast with Kale Pesto and Crunchy Veggies

Bright and delicious, this avocado toast is packed with fresh herbs, creamy avocado, and nutritional yeast for a totally healthy and plant-based sauce. One-half of a raw avocado contains 82 mcg of folate or about 21% of the amount you need for the entire day.

Grilled Peach and Asparagus Salad with Spicy Pepitas, Cashew Mozzarella, and Goji Chipotle Dressing

Asparagus is one of our favorite spring veggies—and this dish just happens to be our favorite way to get our fill. Even non-asparagus fans love this recipe. It’s delicious alongside roasted or grilled chicken, fish, or veggie-packed pasta. A half-cup (90-gram) serving of cooked asparagus contains about 134 mcg of folate or 34% of the DV.

Vegan Nutty Banana Muffins

Name a better breakfast than quick, easy, on-the-go muffins. This vegan take is packed with healthy fats thanks to olive oil, tahini, and almond flour. What’s more, it’s also freezer-friendly and naturally sweetened for the perfect morning meal. Add chocolate chips to make them extra special. Plus, one medium banana can supply 23.6 mcg of folate, or 6% of the DV.

Smoky Beet & Strawberry Salad with Gorgonzola

A vibrantly pink dish, this sweet and savory salad is super simple to make and can be served alongside any of your favorite spring mains. The addition of a roasted beet adds a touch of sweet earthiness to the sweet strawberries and creamy gorgonzola. Beets are high in nitrates and folate and a cup (136 grams) of raw beets contains 37% of your DV for folate.

Chili-Rubbed Salmon With Cashew-Broccoli Slaw 

These salmon tacos are a prime example of how simple ingredients can create a healthy, delicious, and easy-to-prepare weeknight dinner. Not to mention they get bonus points for being gluten and dairy-free and are packed with nourishing, plant-based ingredients. Broccoli, especially when cooked, is rich in folate. One cup (91 grams) of raw broccoli provides 14% of the DV, while one-half cup (78 grams) of cooked broccoli can supply 21% of your daily needs.

Spicy Peanut Brussels Sprout Tacos

It’s taco season, y’all! And truly, is there any better way to celebrate than with these light, flavorful, and plant-based tacos? The star of the show, Brussels sprouts, contains a good number of antioxidants and micronutrients. One-half cup (78 grams) of cooked Brussels sprouts provides about 12% of the DV for folate.

Spring Rice Salad

Your search for a vibrant and filling spring grain salad is over. With perfectly-seasoned rice, peas, fresh herbs, avocado, pickled shallots, and eggs for extra protein, it’s an easy dish that’ll quickly become your lunchtime go-to. Adding eggs to your weight-reduction plan is a good way to spice up your consumption of a number of important vitamins, together with folate. One massive egg packs 22 mcg of folate, or roughly 6% of the DV.

Get Figgy With It Smoothie

Blend up this refreshing fig and flaxseed superfood smoothie for breakfast during the week. It is fiber-packed from the flaxseed, filling from the vanilla protein powder, and perfectly sweet from the banana and figs. One ounce of flaxseeds incorporates about 24 mcg of folate or 6% of the DV.

Coconut Curry Red Lentil Soup 

This soup is made completely in one pot, so clean-up is a breeze. Prep it on a Sunday so it can be quickly rewarmed for an effortless dinner during the week. It’s hearty, comforting, and satiating—the best of all worlds. Although the exact amount of folate in legumes can vary, they’re an excellent source of folate. One cup (198 grams) of cooked lentils contains 358 mcg of folate, which is 90% of the DV.

Thai Chicken Soup with Butternut Squash & Bok Choy

If you haven’t yet dipped your toes into the delicious world of okra, this Thai-inspired chicken soup is a great place to start. It’s packed with protein, flavor, and plenty of veggies. And can we talk about all that color? One cup of cooked okra contains 74 mcg of folate.

Orange Juice Wellness Elixir

Although winter’s on its way out, I’ve been known to sip on this elixir well into spring. (I just can’t seem to quit my cold!) Thankfully, this orange juice beverage is so, so simple yet totally delish. Besides their popular flavor, oranges pack a big nutritional punch. We all know oranges are high in vitamin C—they’re the go-to fruit when you want to support your immune system. However, they’re also a good source of fiber and folate. Just one large orange contains 55 mcg of folate, or about 14% of the DV. 

Millet and Amaranth Porridge with Figs and Papaya

This healthy papaya porridge bowl recipe makes for a comforting, yet perfect-for-spring, breakfast. It’s so easy to make and loaded with energizing and refreshing ingredients. Along with vitamin C and antioxidants, one cup (140 grams) of raw papaya contains 53 mcg of folate, which is equal to about 13% of the DV.

Spinach and Ricotta Pizza with Garlicky Olive Oil

A healthy, budget-friendly meal that’s full of flavor, packed with protein, and just happens to be kid-friendly? Sign me up. Though it sounds fancy, this is one of the easiest pizzas to make with just a few ingredients. Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, and arugula are rich in vitamins and minerals, including folate. One cup (30 grams) of raw spinach provides 58.2 mcg, or 15% of the DV.

Orange-Walnut Olive Oil Cake

Proof that you can have your cake and eat it, too! This walnut, orange, and olive oil cake is going to be your next sweet-treat home run. It’s full of earthy flavors and is even easy enough to surprise the fam with on a weeknight. Thanks to the walnuts, this recipe is packed with folate. One ounce (28 grams) of walnuts contains about 28 mcg of folate.

Chocolate Chip Wheat Germ Cookies from Past Kimchee

These chocolate chip wheat germ cookies are irresistibly crisp on the surface and chewy on the within. They’re a healthful but indulgent deal with. Only one ounce (28 grams) of wheat germ offers 78.7 mcg of folate, which equals about 20% of your each day folate wants. Wheat germ additionally incorporates a considerable quantity of fiber.

This put up was initially printed on September 27, 2021, and has since been up to date.