Pregnant—or just trying? Pay attention to your folic acid. Here are 10 ways to get a daily dose of folic acid into your prenatal diet.
One of the most folate-dense foods you can include in your prenatal diet, cooked lentils contain 180 mcg of folate in every 1/2-cup serving—or almost 50 percent of the RDI. Lentils pack in lots of other pregnancy-friendly nutrients too, including iron, fiber, and plenty of slow-burning carbs. Dried lentils do not necessarily require advance soaking, making them a quick-cooking choice compared to other dried beans.
The word folate is actually derived from foliage, or leaves, referring to the leafy green vegetables that contain such high concentrations of the vitamin. Fresh spinach takes top billing among leafy greens, providing 218 mcg of folate in a 2-cup serving; collard, kale and other cooked greens contain from 50 to 90 mcg per 1/2-cup serving.
One large orange contains 55 mcg of folate, making this very portable food the perfect choice for a folate-rich snack on the go; orange juice offers 74 mcg of folic acid per cup. Harness the health power of oranges with this recipe for spicy orange chicken (consider substituting the popcorn chicken with chunks of baked chicken for less fat). Serve with a spinach salad sprinkled with slices of clementine or mandarin orange for a tasty, folate-boosting meal.
At 79 mcg per 1-cup serving, steamed asparagus is simply spilling over with folate. A side dish of steamed spears is perfect when paired with a buttery citrus sauce (we like the delicate flavor of this pink grapefruit sauce). Or make asparagus your meal's main dish with these recipes for couscous with asparagus, peas and mint and asparagus bread pudding.
Easy to add to lots of different dishes, kidney beans contains a whopping 115 mcg of folate in every 1/2-cup (cooked) serving. You can buy dried kidney beans and soak them before cooking, but don't worry; ready-to-eat canned kidney beans contain the same amount of folate.
Broccoli gives your folate intake a boost by providing approximately 104 mcg of folate in every 1-cup serving, or about one-fourth of your daily requirement. A nutrient-dense "super food," the cruciferous veggie is a good source for vitamin C and beta-carotene, comes filled with fiber, and also provides calcium and iron.
Foods made from grains enriched with folic acid (extra folic acid is added to grain after processing) more than doubles the amount of folic acid typically found in many grain-based foods. Per serving, spaghetti made from enriched wheat contains 100 mcg of folic acid and a slice of enriched bread offers 60 mcg. Try pairing them with a natural source of folate (tossing some broccoli in with your spaghetti sauce or adding spinach leaves to your sandwich).
A handful—approximately 1 ounce—of shelled sunflower seeds shines 82 mcg of folic acid on your prenatal diet. Besides munching them as a quick snack, sunflower seeds can be added to granola cereals for some added crunch, baked into breads, or sprinkled on salads and soups for added texture and a slightly nutty taste. Sunflower seeds also a good source for iron and calcium.
When it comes to prenatal nutrition, avocados are amazing! One cup of sliced avocado contains 90 mcg of folate. But that's not all. Like salmon and walnuts, avocados are filled with omega-3 fatty acids, healthy fat that is good for your heart—and your baby's developing brain. The easiest way to eat it? Mash up some avocado for a quick guacamole, like this recipe that adds silken tofu for extra protein.
Lower in sugar than other morning breakfast juices, tomato juice still pulls through on folic acid content, proving approximately 48 mcg per 1-cup serving. Taking an iron supplement? You may want to down your iron pill with a glass of tomato juice—vitamin C in the juice may actually help your body absorb iron. If tomato juice is just not your thing, try your tomatoes a different way. Like this recipe for creamy tomato soup.