Food and Nutrition

9 Foods High in Folate Worth Filling up on—Whether You’re Pregnant or Not

Emily Laurence

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There are two types of vitamins: the scene-stealers you *know* are important, like vitamin C, D, and magnesium, and the stage hands with little name recognition who consistently work behind-the-scenes to keep your body working properly. Folate is definitely one of the latter. Even though it typically only comes up when talking about prenatal health, everyone needs to make sure they’re getting enough folate, aka vitamin B9.

“Because folate plays a crucial role in preventing neural tube defects, we tend to associate it with prenatal nutrition and supplementation. But folate is also involved in DNA synthesis, tissue formation, and formation of red blood cells in the bone marrow,” says Gena Hamshaw, RD, a registered dietitian and Full Helping blogger. Not getting enough folate, Hamshaw says, can result in certain forms of anemia.

“All women, even those who aren’t thinking about becoming pregnant, should be mindful of their folate intake, especially since adequate folate can be difficult to obtain through food, which is why many cereals and grain products are fortified with it,” Hamshaw says. The average woman should aim to get between 300 and 400 micrograms of folate a day. Hamshaw says women who are pregnant (or actively trying to become pregnant), or have kidney, liver, or digestive diseases, especially need to be aware of their intake.

Just because meeting your required folate intake from food can be difficult doesn’t mean it’s impossible (or pointless). If you’re wondering what foods to fill up on that will help you reach your folate intake goals, look no further than the ones on this list.

Scroll down to see 9 foods high in folate.

1. Leafy greens

This is Hamshaw’s top food rec, not only because leafy greens typically are high in folate (a cup of spinach, for example, has 58 micrograms), but because it’s rich in other amazing nutrients like fiber, iron, and calcium. It also pairs well with virtually all the other folate sources you’ll find on this list. However, it’s important to keep in mind that cooking your greens (including others on this list, such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts) can affect its folate levels. One older study found that half of the folate content was lost in spinach by boiling it—just something to be mindful of.

2. Broccoli

One cup of raw broccoli has almost as much folate as leafy greens (50 grams), and is also a good source of vitamin C.  Again, just be mindful of how you cook your broccoli as if you boil it, the folate content does drop a bit.

3. Brussels sprouts

A plate full of roasted Brussels sprouts doused with olive oil and garlic is more than just a delicious side dish; it will help you get a good amount of folate, too. One 100-gram serving has 60 micrograms, a teeny bit more than leafy greens and broccoli. Like the other greens, it’s a good source of calcium, magnesium, and iron, too.

Check out the video below to see why adding garlic to your veggies is good for your health:

4. Oranges

Greens aren’t the only way to get your folate fix. Hemshaw says citrus fruits, like oranges, are full of it, too. One small orange has 29 micrograms, just shy of 10 percent of your RDA. It’s not a *huge* serving, but still provides a nice little bump.

5. Lentils

If you are a primarily plant-based eater, chanced are lentils are already a regular part of your meal rotation. Lucky you, because one cup of cooked lentils has a whopping 358 micrograms—all you need in an entire day.

6. Avocado

Oh what, you thought there would be a healthy food roundup that didn’t include avocado? While it’s known for being a good source of healthy fats, every avocado has 81 micrograms of folate. Add it to a salad made with a few cups of greens and you have almost all the folate you need for the day.

7. Eggs

Every egg has roughly 35 micrograms of folate (about 10 percent of your daily intake); eat two for breakfast and you’ve made a good dent first thing in the a.m. As a whole, eggs are a superstar healthy food. One registered dietitian even calls them “nature’s multivitamin.”

8. Liver

This is a folate source Hemshaw recommends that’s often overlooked, but it definitely shouldn’t be. One serving has 738 micrograms of folate—more than you need for the entire day. And you might have guessed this, but eating liver is good for your, well, your liver.

9. Beets

Besides being full of antioxidants, a one-cup serving of beets has about one-third of the daily recommended amount of folate (148 micrograms). Slice them and add them to your salad or enjoy in the form of blended beet juice.

As you can see, folate is found in a whole slew of healthy foods—likely ones you’re already eating for other nutritional benefits anyway. That’s the great part about eating healthy foods; nutrients always hang out together so you’re never getting just one singular benefit. Just by prioritizing healthy eating in general, you’re likely getting your fill.

Check out this list of nutrient-dense foods that are both inexpensive and wildly beneficial. And these are the best nutrients for glowing skin.

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