Folate or folic acid is a form of the water-soluble B vitamin. Folic acid is one of the most important baby-making nutrients. It helps the body break down, use and create protein – the building block of our cells. This birth defect-fighting also plays a role in DNA creation and the formation of red blood cells. In the first few weeks of pregnancy, folic acid helps the embryonic neural tube, the precursor to the baby’s brain and spinal cord. Check out this food list below to get enough folic acid during pregnancy.
Cereal is not just for kids. Since 1996, the government has required that all “enriched cereal grain products” including flour, cornmeal, and rice, are fortified with folic acid to help reduce birth defects. Most fortified cereals supply from 100 to 400 mcg of folic acid in one and a half cup serving. To make sure you’re getting the max, look for at least 35% of the daily value for folic acid on the nutrition label. Have a bowl in the morning with low-fat milk, sprinkle it on your yogurt, or keep it in a snack-size plastic bag in your office drawer to munch on throughout the day.
Lentils are a “super food” that Project Open Hand includes in nutritious meals, which can help fight illness and cope with the challenges of aging. These mighty members of the legume family also contain 180 mcg of folate in each half-cup serving. They’re also packed with protein and fiber, and low in fat, which makes them a super substitute for meat. However, you should buy lentils dry in the health food store and put them in a strainer to rinse away any dirt, dust, or debris. Boil for 15 to 20 minutes, add turmeric or ginger, and serve over rice, or add them to soups or stews.
Spinach is a green, leafy vegetable that is cheap and affordable for everyone. Just one-half cup of this dark leafy green, cooked, contains about 100 mcg of folate. Spinach also helps keep your body alkaline while the antioxidants in spinach will help your body fight off damage from free radicals. Adding spinach to a smoothie instantly does not give you more folate but also gives you fiber, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. Try using baby spinach in place of lettuce in salads and on sandwiches. Do everything you can to get more spinach into your diet, especially during your pregnancy.
Broccoli is known to be a hearty and tasty vegetable, which is rich in dozens of nutrients. What’s more? Broccoli is one of the best detox food you should eat. Just one cup of broccoli provides approximately 26% of your daily folic acid needs, not to mention a whole host of other important nutrients. In addition, many studies show that a substance called isothiocyanate in the broccoli sparks hundreds of genetic changes, activating some genes that fight cancer and switching off others that fuel tumors. But take note: A Spanish study found that microwaving broccoli destroys 97 percent of the vegetable’s cancer-protective flavonoids. So steam it, eat it raw as a snack, or add it to soups and salads.
GREAT NORTHERN BEANS
Great Northern beans are similar to cannellini beans in that both varieties are large, white, creamy, full-flavored and often used in baked bean dishes. With 45 percent of the recommended daily value per cup, great northern beans are an excellent source of folate. According to the National Institutes of Health, folate is not only beneficial during pregnancy but it also helps prevent lung, stomach, cervical and breast cancer. Always buy the low-sodium canned version, and rinse them under cold water and drain. This will wash away some of the sodium and help lessen the gas you may experience from eating beans.
Asparagus is a power-house food for pregnant and nursing mothers due to its high content of fiber, folic acid, Vitamins A, C, and K. Asparagus also contain phytoestrogens – the hormonal effect of phytoestrogens aid in milk production. Furthermore, asparagus consists of tryptophan, an essential amino acid which may stimulate prolactin production and subsequently improve milk supply. This high-vitamin E food can do an excellent job in strengthening your immune system and protecting cells from the harmful effects of free radicals, giving a nice and healthy look for nursing moms.