Eating a variety of healthy foods -- fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds as well as fortified foods -- is an easy way to increase your folate intake, says Dr Archana Dhawan Bajaj.
Folate also known as vitamin B9, is a water-soluble vitamin that is naturally found in a variety of foods.
Additionally, it is also added to many foods and sold as a supplement in the form of folic acid; a form which is better absorbed than that from food sources -- 85% vs. 50%, respectively.
Folate has many important functions in our body. It plays a role in protein metabolism, is needed to produce healthy red blood cells and is critical during periods of rapid growth, such as during pregnancy and fetal development.
Here's a list of top 10 folic acid rich foods that are highly beneficial for women of all ages:
1. Leafy greens
Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, soy, romaine lettuce, and asparagus add an immediate boost of folic acid to your diet.
Just one large plate of these leafy greens is enough to give you your daily dose of this essential vitamin.
2. Beans and peas
Beans and peas including pinto beans, lima peas, black eyed peas, green peas and kidney beans are very high in folic acid ratio.
A small bowl of lentils is all you need for your daily requirement of folic acid.
Beets are rich in many important nutrients and are also a great source of folate, with a single cup of raw beets containing 148 microgram (mcg) of folate, or about 37% of the Daily Value (DV).
4. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds contain a good amount of protein, fibre and many of the vitamins and minerals that your body needs. Additionally, they also help you meet your daily folate needs.
While the amount of folate can vary in different types of nuts and seeds, one ounce (28 grams) of walnuts contains about 28 mcg of folate, and the same serving of flax seeds contains about 24 mcg of folate.
5. Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes are rich sources of folate besides being delicious and full of flavour -- one large orange contains 55 mcg of folate, or about 14% of the DV.
6. Beef liver
Beef liver is one of the most concentrated sources of folate. 3-ounce (85 gram) serving of cooked beef liver is packed with 212 mcg of folate, or about 54% of the DV.
Eggs are a great way to boost your intake of several essential nutrients, including folate.
Just a single serving of one large egg gives you 22 mcg of folate, or approximately 6% of the DV.
A few servings of eggs in your diet each week is an easy way to boost your folate intake and help meet your needs.
Papaya is a nutrient-dense delicious fruit jam-packed with folate.
One cup of raw papaya contains enough amounts of this water soluble vitamin.
Bananas are a nutritional powerhouse. Their high folate content can easily help you meet your daily needs when paired with a few other folate-rich foods.
10. Fortified foods and supplements
Many types of grains, such as bread and pasta, have been fortified to boost their folic acid content.
The amounts can vary between different products, but one cup of cooked spaghetti supplies a good amount of folic acid to meet your daily requirements.
All we need to remember is folate is an essential micronutrient found in abundance throughout your diet.
Eating a variety of healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, as well as fortified foods, is an easy way to increase your folate intake.
Besides being rich in folate, these foods are also high in other key nutrients that can improve other aspects of your health.
Dr Archana Dhawan Bajaj is a gynecologist, obstetrician and IVF Expert at Nurture IVF Centre, Delhi.