Are you getting enough folic acid and folate?
Folate is a B vitamin that helps the body make new cells; it’s especially crucial for women of childbearing age or who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, because adequate intake can prevent major birth defects. This group should consume 400 to 800 mg of folic acid (the synthetic form of folate) a day. But the benefits of folate go beyond pregnancy: researchers have discovered that folic acid may help prevent certain cancers, such as those of the colon cancer and stomach, and maintain brain health, according to Health.Discovery.com. Aim for 400 micrograms of folic acid or less—just because some is good doesn’t mean more is better. Here, the best sources of folate and folic acid in your diet.
Since 1996, the government has required that all “enriched cereal grain products” including flour, cornmeal, and rice, be fortified with folic acid to help reduce birth defects. The CDC has a list of cereals that contain 100 percent of the daily value of folic acid per serving. Have a bowl of cereal in the morning with low-fat milk, or use dry cereal as a yogurt topping.
A half-cup of these hearty legumes contains 180 micrograms of folate, as well as plenty of protein and fiber. Have them as a side dish with dinner or toss them in salads or soups. They’re also a great protein source for vegetarians.
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Per fortification requirements, one cup of cooked enriched whole-wheat pasta contains about 160 micrograms of folic acid—not to mention up to 25 percent of your daily fiber need.
A half-cup of steamed greens has 131 micrograms of folate. Stir cooked spinach into your favorite marinara sauces, soups, casserole dishes, and omelets, or enjoy it on the side.
Packed with antioxidants that slow the aging process, asparagus also offers 121 micrograms of folate in a half-cup serving. Bonus: Since it’s a natural diuretic, it can help your body flush out excess salt and decrease bloating. Eat it on the side, add it to omelets and frittatas, or roll it up in a warm tortilla with cooked chicken and other veggies.
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Dry-Roasted Sunflower SeedsiStockphoto/Thinkstock
Eat sunflower seeds and your ticker will thank you. A quarter-cup serving contains 76 micrograms of folate as well as 62 percent of the daily value of vitamin E, which has anti-inflammatory properties that boost heart health. (Stick with the unsalted version to reduce sodium in your diet.) Sprinkle them on your oatmeal, cereal, salads, snack mixes, stir-fries, and yogurt to add crunch.
One large egg contains 25 micrograms of folate. For a mere 80 calories per egg, add a couple of hard-boileds to your breakfast, slice them on top of your salad at lunch, or add a fried egg over a pasta dish for dinner.