Folic acid. Do you know what it is? You’ve probably heard it encouraged heavily for women who are pregnant, but folic acid is actually important for all of us, all of the time. It is especially important in preventing folate-deficiency anemia (the lack of folic acid in the blood). One of the easiest ways to get enough folic acid daily is by supplementing your diet or by eating all-natural, nutrient-rich foods. Below, you’ll find a list of the folic acid foods that you should add to your diet – pronto!
What is Folic Acid?
Folic acid (known as vitamin B9 or B12) is found in dietary supplements and in fortified foods. Folate is a variation of folic acid that can be found naturally in foods. Folic acid is one of the essential B vitamins that helps the body convert food into energy and create healthy new cells. So yes, folic acid foods are pretty important! In fact, The New York Times wrote an article calling folic acid one of the most important micronutrients we get through our diet.
For women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, folic acid is believed to be crucial to a healthy pregnancy. In fact, most major birth defects in the brain and spine can be linked to a folate deficiency during pregnancy. So, go ahead – get out your grocery list and write down these seven folic acid foods right away!
Note: When referring to vitamin B9/B12, we’ll mention it as folate instead of folic acid below, though the two are mostly interchangeable.
- Leafy Green Vegetables – Good news for all you spinach fans: It has the highest amount of folate per serving, so keep serving it up! Other good sources include collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, and romaine lettuce. For some great recipe ideas using folic acid foods, check out this article.
- Asparagus – It’s such a versatile vegetable and high in folate too (as if we needed more reasons to add asparagus to our diets, yum!) The great thing about this one is that is can easily be combined with other foods that are also high in folate, such as lentils, wild rice, or if you’re into it – liver. If you’ve never tried it, asparagus is also great in a salad. Check out this article that lists 50 different things you can do with asparagus! If asparagus isn’t your thing, broccoli is great too!
- Avocado – This buttery fruit is not only a great source of folate, but is also a great source of vitamin K, fatty acids, and dietary fiber. One serving makes up nearly 30% of your daily recommended value of folate. For a yummy added bonus, try eating your avocado with shredded Brussels sprouts (another folate superfood). Add a fried egg on top, drizzle a little lemon vinaigrette and sprinkle in some toasted hazelnuts on top, and you’ll thank us later!
- Citrus Fruits – Pour yourself an extra large glass of fresh squeezed orange juice in the morning and you’ll be well on your way to meeting your health goals for the day. Citrus fruits (especially oranges and papaya) are great sources of folate. Other good choices include grapefruit, strawberries, and raspberries – so go ahead and mix it up throughout the day!
- Beans, Peas, and Lentils – Lentils are the real star of the show here, with each serving providing nearly 90% of the daily recommended value of folate. But, your options don’t stop there; hearty beans like pinto, black beans, and kidney beans are powerful folic acid foods as well. You’ll also want to get your hands on some lima beans, split peas, and green peas for an added punch. Put them all together and you’ll be knocking this folic acid thing out of the park! Try this bean, pea, and lentil salad recipe and let us know what you think!
- Seeds and Nuts – Not only do they make a handy and portable snack, but they are also decent folic acid foods. Peanuts and sunflower seeds are especially high in the nutrient, but flax seeds and almonds also provide some added folate support.
- Okra – Did you know that okra not only packs folate, but it’s also a powerful cleansing food too? People often complain about the sliminess of okra, but that mucilage is actually what makes it great for assisting with regular bowel function. It’s also high in fiber, rich in protein, and is believed to assist the colon in the clearing of harmful bacteria – something that can be very beneficial during pregnancy!
What are your go-to folic acid supplements or folate-rich foods? Share your favorite recipes in the comments below!