Common Foods Rich in Folic Acid

April 25, 2020
Although green leafy vegetables are the best-known folic acid-rich foods, you can also consume citrus fruits, lentils, broccoli, or nuts to get this vitamin. In this article, discover foods rich in folic acid.

Most people’s folic acid knowledge is limited to the fact that doctors recommend it for pregnant women. However, the truth is that we should all include this nutrient in our regular diet to stay healthy. For this reason, you should get to know the foods rich in folic acid.

Although currently available in supplements and industrial products, there are many ways to consume it naturally. This is why we decided to share the foods rich in this vitamin that you should include in your favorite recipes.

What’s folic acid?

The sources of folic acid.
Consuming foods rich in folic acid ensures that you’ll have an adequate amount of blood cells and proper cognitive development.

The first thing to know is what this nutrient is all about. It’s a vitamin, specifically vitamin B9, which plays a role in the formation of hemoglobin and cells. In addition, it has an active role in bone marrow, and is, therefore, an essential complement to fight anemia.

Some of its food sources are green leafy vegetables, brewer’s yeast, legumes, nuts, and whole grains. However, it’s often lost when subjected to cooking methods. Therefore, sometimes it’s difficult to absorb the dose the body needs. It’s essential that pregnant women consume it to avoid placenta abnormalities, anemia, or fetal malformation.

The minimum recommended daily dose of folic acid is 100 mcg for men and 180 mcg for women. Women who are trying to get pregnant should consume double that amount for a few months.

This article may interest you: What Are the Water-Soluble Vitamins?

The role of folic acid

An adequate folic acid intake can:

  • Aid cell health. To synthesize DNA, form complex proteins, heal wounds, keep cells healthy, and ensure proper growth.
  • Promote fetal development. Especially in the spine, heart, brain, and nervous system.
  • Boost female fertility. Studies have shown that women who consume folic acid three months before they conceive increase their chances of getting pregnant.
  • Facilitate the formation of red blood cells. Thus, it prevents anemia and other diseases related to the number of red blood cells.
  • Improve heart health. It counteracts many heart diseases, aids in the treatment of poor circulation, and prevents heart attacks.
  • Prevent depression. People who suffer from depressive disorders have very low folic acid levels. At adequate doses, it helps improve mood.
  • Delay premature aging. Some neurodegenerative diseases as well if the indicated daily dose is consumed.

Foods rich in folic acid

Green leafy vegetables

Green leafy vegetables.
Green leafy vegetables are the main sources of folic acid.

The one that stands out the most is spinach, which contributes 63% of the recommended folic acid daily intake. Chard is in second place, while lettuce in third.

For more information: Green Vegetables and Hemp Protein Shake

Legumes

Lentils and beans are especially rich in this vitamin. Pregnant women should consume these foods on a weekly basis. Half a cup of lentils provides 50% of the folic acid needed during the gestation period. Also, they help fight anemia due to the fact that they’re rich in iron.

Asparagus

This vegetable has many health benefits, especially regarding folic acid. One cup contains more than 60% of the daily dose. Also, it’s a diuretic par excellence. Experts recommend it in cases of fluid retention and urinary infections.

Broccoli

A plate of broccoli.
Broccoli is loaded with nutrients, including folic acid.

A cup of this vegetable contains a lot of folic acid, as well as calcium, fiber, and vitamin C. Thus, you should definitely include it in your diet.

Citrus fruits

Especially oranges, but also papayas and strawberries. Although these foods don’t contain a lot of folic acid, it’s a good idea to add them to other foods, especially during breakfast.

Avocado

It’s rich in fiber, fatty acids, and folic acid. A cup of this fruit contains approximately 30% of the daily requirements.

Do you get enough folic acid with your diet? If you’re not sure, enrich your daily diet with the foods we mentioned here. In addition, if you’re pregnant or want to become pregnant, consult your doctor regarding the necessary folic acid recommendations.

  • Kamen B (1997). “Folate and antifolate pharmacology”. Seminars in oncology 24 (5 Suppl 18): S18-30-S18-39. PMID 9420019.
  • Smith, A. D., Kim, Y. I., & Refsum, H. (2008). Is folic acid good for everyone? American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. https://doi.org/87/3/517 [pii]
  • Talaulikar, V., & Arulkumaran, S. (2013). Folic acid in pregnancy. Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Reproductive Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ogrm.2013.06.007
  • Shaw GM, Schaffer D, Velie EM, Morland K, Harris JA (1995). “Periconceptional vitamin use, dietary folate, and the occurrence of neural tube defects”. Epidemiology 6 (3): 219-226. PMID 7619926