Folate through Food!

Folate is a crucial nutrient during pregnancy, but its importance is even higher before pregnancy as adequate folate intake can reduce the risk of neural tube defects like spina bifida.  Taking a folic acid supplement is often recommended to women of childbearing age because the risk of spina bifida occurs early in pregnancy, often before a woman even knows that she is pregnant.  There is some concern that continued use of a folate supplement beyond preconception and early pregnancy may cause an increased risk in asthma in children, and at this point it is no longer serving the purpose of preventing neural tube defects.  There has been no correlation to asthma and folate when consumed naturally in food, so it’s great to get used to eating a diet rich in folate before trying to conceive and then continuing this throughout pregnancy.


Folate is important for overall health because of its role in creating red blood cells, which prevents anemia, and it is necessary for the creation of DNA and RNA.


When vitamin B9 is naturally occurring in food it is called folate.  Folic acid refers to the synthetic version of the vitamin. The recommended daily intake of folate for a woman of childbearing age is between 400 and 800 mg.


If you are of childbearing age, it’s good to take a prenatal vitamin, or a folate supplement to make sure you are getting enough.  Food is a great source but it is not always easy to get enough from food alone on a consistent basis and folate is so important to the early development of your baby.


Here are some of my favorite sources of folate:


Lentils – Lentils are such a power food!  Not only are they a rich source of folate, but they are high in protein as well, making them a great choice for anytime but especially preconception through postpartum.  A half-cup of cooked lentils has about 45% of the folate that you need for a day.


Quinoa – This amazing grain has 19% of the RDA of folate in a 1 cup serving and is another great source of protein.


Spinach – One of my favorite dark leafy greens, and an easy one to start out with because of it’s mild flavor, 1 cup of raw spinach has 15% of your daily folate needs.


Sunflower Seeds – These flavorful seeds are a great addition to many dishes (including smoothies!).  A quarter cup of sunflower seeds not only gives you 19% of the folate you need, but also 6.2 grams of protein and 14% of the recommended dietary fiber.


Avocado — One of my favorite foods, avocado is a great source of folate, protein, dietary fiber, and healthy fat.  An avocado alone has 5 g of protein, 50% of the folate you need in a day, and 63% of the dietary fiber you need!


Here’s a recipe for a delcious meal that features 3 of those folate rich ingredients!

Cook quinoa and lentils in vegetable stock.

I usually cook the quinoa and lentils together, but cooking time varies by brand, so until you get the hang of cooking with these ingredients, you might want to start off cooking them separately.

Combine 1 cup of cooked quinoa, ½ cup cooked lentils, and a cup of spinach (stir it around and the heat will wilt the leaves).

Season to taste with sea salt,pepper or any other favorite spices.

To boost your immunity, you can add 1 minced garlic clove.


Peace, Love, and Wellness,

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