best list of folic acid rich foods for pregnancy

Folic Acid Rich Foods for Pregnancy List (Folate)

List of Foods High in Folic Acid for Pregnancy (Folate)

There are a number of folate rich foods that you should include in your pregnancy diet. Folate or folic acid, which is actually the synthetic version of folate, is beneficial for both the health of your unborn baby and for you during pregnancy too. So knowing some great folate rich foods to include in your pregnancy diet is imperative.

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folic acid folate rich foods list for pregnancy

Why is it Important to Eat Folate Rich Foods During Pregnancy?

There is a good chance that as soon as you got your positive pregnancy test that your healthcare provider told you to start on a prenatal vitamin containing folic acid right away! And for good reason.

Folate (or folic acid) rich foods play an important role in the development of the neural tube, which is the base for your unborn baby’s spine and brain. Folate can help reduce folate deficiencies that result in spina bifida (condition where child’s spinal cord is not fully developed) or other neural tube defects like anence phaly (which occurs when part of the brain and skull do not form).

Also folate rich foods for pregnancy help prevent other birth defects like congenital heart defects, reduced head circumference and vision problems. A folate deficiency can also make you more likely to get certain kinds of cancer like cervical and breast cancer.

So folate rich foods during pregnancy can be very important to your baby’s health and for the health of mom too! It is important to start consuming enough folate ASAP when you find out you’re pregnant, or even a month before you conceive ideally.

RELATED: The Best Ways to Prepare for a Healthy Pregnancy

What is folate?

Folate is an important B vitamin that the body needs throughout its lifetime. It actually comes from folia, which means leaf in Latin. Folate leaves its mark on all new cells made in the body (which happens every three days). So folate-rich foods during pregnancy and folate-rich foods in your diet in general are key!

Since folates aren’t stored in the body, folate-rich foods for pregnancy should be consumed every day.

Folate is especially important before conception, when sperm fertilizes egg, because then your baby’s neural tube forms. So getting a lot of folate from as early on as you can during your pregnancy is ideal but it is also important to consume enough throughout your entire pregnancy as well.

It is estimated that 72% of all neural tube defects can be prevented by merely consuming enough folate during this time period.

This is why in 1998 the US and Canadian governments required the addition of 140 mcg folic acid/100 g to all bread, cereals, flours, and other grain products. While this did help the problem, unfortunately most of us don’t benefit from this addition at all.

I’ll explain why next.

prenatal nutrition and fitness

What is the Difference Between Folate and Folic Acid?

Folate is actually the natural form of vitamin B9, folacin, or folate. It is found in dark leafy greens and lots of other fruits and vegetables as well as a few other foods.

Folic acid on the other hand is a synthetic version of folate that is made by adding extra reactants to folic acid which are used in supplements and food fortification.

Unfortunately, over 40% of women cannot properly absorb and utilize folic acid within the body due to a common genetic mutation called the MTHFR gene.

This is why it is imperative to take a high-quality naturally sourced prenatal vitamin like Essentials Prenatal that contains real folate. It is better to be safe than sorry when consumption of enough folate is so vital to your baby’s proper growth and development.

Essentials prenatal is always my choice for my prenatal vitamin for a ton of reasons:

  1. It comes right to my door every month so I never run out or have to brave the stores.
  2. It’s super easy to snooze your order if you happen to miss some days and have extras.
  3. They are completely transparent with their ingredients and their sources. It is so refreshing to find companies like that. They are few and far between!
  4. Everything is naturally sourced and bioavailable, basically the best of the best during pregnancy.
  5. Oh ya, and they cost the same as the lower quality brands. Ritual’s Essentials prenatal is a win-win-win for moms-to-be.

So now you can easily understand why it is important to focus on including folate rich foods in your pregnancy diet plan, not folic acid rich foods.

RELATED: All the Details of Why You Need Folate During Pregnancy

why you need folate for pregnancy

How Much of Each Nutrient Do You Need in Your Pregnancy Diet?

Remember we know that consuming enough folate during pregnancy right from the start helps to avoid horrible health issues for the growing baby such as neural tube defects and birth defects like congenital heart defects, reduced head circumference, and vision problems.

But did you know we also directly know the effects on the growing baby of every vitamin and mineral you need to consume during pregnancy?

And so many of them are just as important to consume enough of as folic acid!

The Perfect Pregnancy Plan is the only prenatal lifestyle guide that breaks down exactly

  • how much of each nutrient you need to be consuming during pregnancy,
  • how those needs change by trimester,
  • exactly how each nutrient benefits your baby, basically exactly why you need to focus on getting enough of each throughout your gestation,
  • and even how to best source each nutrient from your diet!
  • Plus a ton more great info about how to have the healthiest pregnancy and baby possible.

During your pregnancy (beginning a month prior to conception) it is recommended to get AT LEAST 400mcg to 800mcg of folate per day and up to 1000mcg for some women according to U of M Health in addition to many other sources.

It is difficult to get that much folate from diet alone on a daily basis. This is important because your body doesn’t store folate, it needs to be consumed daily.

So even though the best source for your nutrients during pregnancy is your diet, as explained in detail in The Perfect Pregnancy Plan, this is one (of a few) nutrients that you want to be supplementing with as well.

Knowing exactly how much of each nutrient your baby needs for optimal fetal growth and development was so important for me to learn. It makes you so much better prepared to know with the right prenatal diet plan you are ACTUALLY taking the best steps to lay the foundation for a healthy life for your child.

prenatal nutrition and fitness

List of the Best The Best Folic Acid (Folate) Rich Foods for Pregnancy?

Since it is the best idea to include folate-rich foods on a daily basis during your pregnancy in addition to taking a prenatal vitamin containing real folate as well, it’s important to know the best sources of folate like those listed below.

  1. Liver. (215 mcg per serving.) You probably don’t want to hear it but liver tops the charts on MANY nutrients, folate being one of them. But don’t worry, if you can’t stomach the taste (I sure couldn’t during pregnancy) there are some high quality real liver supplements that are just as good nutritionally as eating the real thing.
  2. Boiled Spinach. (131 mcg in a half cup.) Spinach is one of the top 5 foods you should be eating daily during pregnancy. It is a great source of many nutrients but a lot easier to stomach than liver! A frozen spinach puck makes a great addition to your perfect pregnancy smoothies too.
  3. Lentils. (358 mcg in one cup.) Legumes in general are a great source of folate. Lentils are one of the highest but other beans and peas are also rich in folate.
  4. Kidney Beans. (131 mcg in one cup.) Kidney beans are another great example of a legume that is a folate rich food for pregnancy. You can use any type of bean in soups, salads, or to make hummus.
  5. Asparagus. (143 mcg in 1/2 cup.) Asparagus is one of your front runner vegetables when it comes to folate content! Just a handful of those flavorful spears will have you at almost a third of the folate amount you should be consuming daily.
  6. Beets. (148 mcg in 1 cup.) Though you might not think of them as a dark leafy green, beets pretty much qualify. Even their brightly colored roots contain a ton of folate for your pregnancy diet.
  7. Brussel Sprouts. (78 mcg in 1/2 cup.) I don’t know about you but I could eat far more than 1/2 cup of Brussel sprouts! Try this healthy 30 minute pork loin dinner for a perfect pregnancy meal exploding with nutrients and of course featuring Brussel sprouts.
  8. Romaine Lettuce. (64 mcg in 1 cup.) Having a romaine salad topped with sliced beets, beans, corn, and cucumber would be one amazing pregnancy lunch idea that is absolutely bursting with folate.
  9. Cooked Broccoli. (84 mcg in 1/2 cup) Broccoli is a great source of folate, and it contains more when you cook it! Spinach is the same. I’m so glad I learned so many tricks like that in The Perfect Pregnancy Plan so that I could make every meal count toward the nutrition, development, and most positive genetic expression possible in my baby.
  10. Avocado. (Raw contains 59 mcg in 1/2 cup.) Think, if it’s green, there’s a good chance it contains a decent amount of folate. Even avocados contain a great amount. Throw them on a salad, in a wrap, or into your smoothie for a healthy fat and folate boost.

Wrapping Up List of Folate (Folic Acid) Rich Foods for Pregnancy

Eating folate-rich foods is important for having a healthy pregnancy. Some of the best sources of folate are liver, spinach, lentils, kidney beans, asparagus, beets, Brussel sprouts, and romaine lettuce. You should aim to include some of these foods in your diet every day to ensure that you get enough folate.

While the foods listed above are all great sources of folate don’t forget there are more healthy food that contain quite a bit of folate also that would great additions to your pregnancy diet. Things like Peas, legumes other than those mentioned, nuts, citrus fruits, bananas, and even eggs.

Sources for folate content of mentioned in above foods:

  1. Healthline
  2. National Institutes of Health

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List of Foods High in Folic Acid for Pregnancy (Folate)

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