Are you pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant? Nutrition is an important component in supporting a healthy pregnancy and the needs of your growing baby. Not to mention, we just feel feel better in general when we’re getting the essential nutrients from the food we eat. One of those nutrients that we hear about a lot surrounding pregnancy is Folic Acid (folate in it’s natural food form)
This essential nutrient is required for synthesizing and repairing DNA, to produce red blood cells and for regulating cell metabolism.
Folic acid, along with Vitamin B12 and Vitamin C, aids in the breakdown, use and creation of new protein molecules. Diets rich in folic acid are especially important to women before and during pregnancy. It plays a major role in cellular regeneration and proper fetal development. Taking the right amount of folic acid before and during pregnancy can help to prevent neural tube defects, abnormalities of the brain and spinal bifida. It also plays an important role in a child’s normal development.
It is recommended that pregnant and lactating women get a minimum of 600 micrograms per day. Since your body can’t produce folic acid on it’s own, you need to consume folic acid rich foods. Many prenatal vitamins include between 600 – 800 mcg’s of folic acid, but as with other vitamins, getting it directly from the food you eat will ensure more efficient absorption into your body. Here is a list of 10 foods high in folate that are readily available in most supermarkets:
A half cup of broccoli provides 52 micrograms of folic acid. Broccoli is best consumed raw or lightly cooked. It can be easily added to salads, pasta, stir-fry’s and is pretty tasty on its own. I often add it when I make fresh juice as well. This super food is also a great source of vitamin c, fiber, calcium, iron and soluble fiber.
2. Pinto Beans:
This legume is quite versatile and you can easily add it into rice dishes, soups and salads. 1 serving will provide you with 250 micrograms of folic acid.
This nutrient dense food has one of the highest levels of folic acid in the entire vegetable kingdom. One cup of steamed asparagus will give you 260 micrograms of folic acid. This delicious vegetable also provides a decent amount of potassium, manganese, copper, calcium and iron. Look for firm, fresh spears, with closed compact tips.
Like we need another reason to love avocados. A single small/medium size of avocado will provide you with 174 micrograms of folic acid. it will also provide you with potassium, vitamin C, anti-oxidants and the healthy fat that you and your baby need. Add it to salads, sandwiches or just slice it up and snack on it.
5. Black-eyed Peas:
One half-cup serving of black-eyed peas contains over 105 micrograms of folic acid. You can boil them ahead of time and keep them in your fridge for a quick add in to veggies and rice or toss with spinach and olive oil a yummy lunch.
A medium-sized banana contains 24 micrograms of folic acid. Grab a banana for a quick snack or freeze them and add to smoothies. Bananas are also high in dietary fiber, potassium, protein and iron.
7: Citrus Fruits:
Oranges and grapefruits are a great source of folic acid and vitamin C. Having a medium sized orange will provide you with around 50 micrograms.
8. Dark Leafy Greens:
These are my favorite nutrient rich super foods! Leafy green vegetable are loaded with essential vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and powerful antioxidants which help to support a healthy body and pregnancy. Dark leafy vegetable have a high level of folic acid content when compared with other vegetable.
For an immediate boost in folic acid levels, consider including more spinach, collard greens, kale, romaine lettuce and turnip greens into your daily diet. 1 cup of spinach provides 265 micrograms of folic acid, 1 cup of collard greens provides 177 micrograms and 1 cup of romaine lettuce provides 76 micrograms. It is best to east these raw, as overcooking can significantly reduce the folate content in these foods.
Cooked Lentils are another amazing food containing folic acid, perfect for pregnancy. 1 cup of cooked lentils provides you with 360 micrograms of folic acid! Lentils are also packed with other nutrients like iron, protein and fiber.
Beets are excellent source of antioxidants and folic acid. One cup of boiled beets provides you with 136 micrograms of folic acid.