Top folate foods during pregnancy

Folic acid – or folate, when absorbed from food – is very important during pregnancy and infancy. Also called Vitamin B9, folic acid aids the rapid cell division and cell growth, especially during the preconception period and during the first trimester of pregnancy. Thus, if you’re planning to get pregnant, you should have a daily intake of 400 micrograms of folic acid (or folate absorbed from foods) during your prenatal diet. This will help reduce the risk for birth defects in the brain and the spine. Continue to maintain this level of folate right after conceiving and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

If you’re not at ease with taking folic acid as a dietary supplement, include these folate-rich foods in your diet.

Lentils

Lentils are very rich in folate. Only 100g of boiled lentils (or 40g of raw lentils) contain almost half of your daily dose of 400µg of folate. Lentils are also a good source of iron, dietary fibre and zinc.

Spinach

100g of raw spinach in your salad will take care of half of the folate amount needed for the day. Other leafy greens are good sources of folate, but spinach is particularly rich in folate and iron, which makes it a top choice for your salads.

Turnip Tops

100g of boiled turnip tops contain 118µg of folate, which covers about 30% of your folate intake need for the day. To reduce the bitter taste of the leaves, change the water from the initial boiling with fresh water. Turnip tops are also rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Calcium. Here are the most important 7 vitamins and minerals during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Fortified cereals

Breads and cereals enriched with folic acid typically contain more than double the amount of folate found in grain products. Ideally, you should combine fortified cereals or breads with foods that are naturally rich in folate. For instance, you can try adding banana and orange slices in your cereal bowl, or eat fortified bread with a spinach salad.

Kidney beans

Red kidney beans are an excellent natural source of folate. 100g of uncooked red kidney beans, which amount to a couple of servings, will cover your entire daily recommended dose of folate. They do, however, require pre-soaking and then boiling for at least 10 minutes in order to reduce their toxicity.

Chicken liver is also a very rich source of folate, but it is not recommended during pregnancy due to its high levels of retinol – a form of Vitamin A. High levels of retinol in your body are not healthy during pregnancy, which is why you need avoid consuming liver, liver products and dietary supplements that contain retinol.