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Folic acid is an important part of a healthy diet. Low levels of folate - the naturally occurring B vitamin from which folic acid is derived - can contribute to anemia, inhibited cell and protein regeneration and ulcers. While many people have heard of the importance of consuming folic acid during pregnancy, there are many other ways that the vitamin supports healthy bodies.
In addition, folate helps prevent heart disease. It lowers levels of homocysteine in the bloodstream, which is a compound that is a risk factor for heart issues, explained the Mayo Clinic. Some studies have also shown that there may be a link between folate deficiency and both depression and Alzheimer's disease. Overall, folate supports optimal functioning of the body and mind.
Folate is found naturally in many foods, and many people receive their daily values of folic acid since a push in the early nineties to artificially add it to a wide variety of foods. The recommended daily value for folic acid is 400 micrograms for adult males and 400-600 micrograms for adult females. Choose eating folate-filled veggies raw rather than cooked, since cooking decreases levels of the vitamin. Eating the foods below is a great and tasty way to make sure diets include enough folate:
According to the Global Healing Center, citrus fruits contain the highest levels of folate of any type of fruit. Oranges and orange juice and grapefruit all contain high amounts of folate, so start the day off right with citrus fruit as part of breakfast. And when reaching for a glass of orange juice, opt for a reduced sugar brand.
There are many ways to make a salad more folate-friendly. Kale, spinach, Romaine lettuce and collard greens all have high levels of folate. Kale leads the pack, with an astonishing 263 micrograms of the vitamin in just one cup of the greens. A salad or other meal made with a mix of these leafy green can contain almost the entire daily value for folate, according to the Global Healing Center. To switch things up from salads, try drizzling kale or spinach with olive oil and pairing it as a side with grilled meat or seafood or using it to top a bowl of whole grain rice.
Beans across the color spectrum provide a healthy dose of folate, from black beans to kidney beans. Black-eyed peas have the most folate, so try tossing them in a chili or wrapping them up with sliced chicken in a burrito. Chickpeas are also high in folate, making hummus not just a tasty dip at a party, but a healthy one, too.
Lentils are a fierce folate provider - just one cup of cooked lentils contains 90 percent of the daily value of the vitamin, and they're also low in calories and fat. Lentils make soups and stews heartier and add delicious texture to salads. With a light sauce and some herbs, lentils make a great dinner side, and can also be mixed with orzo and balsamic vinaigrette for a fantastic pasta salad perfect for summer.
Next time you want to dig into a bowl of potato chips, grab a bowl of nuts instead. Many nuts, including sunflower seeds, peanuts and almonds, contain high folate levels. Choose unsalted nuts over salted ones to reduce sodium intake. For a little extra flavor, swap the salt for a dash of chili powder on the nuts.
Broccoli is filing and full of folate, along with being loaded with fiber and nutrients that reduce cholesterol levels. In addition, broccoli was found to support the body's detox process, according to WHfoods.com. Opt to enjoy broccoli raw to get the most folate from it - try dipping broccoli in a low-fat dressing or cheese sauce for a little extra flavor.
Avocados are a wonder food - how can they taste so creamy and rich, but be so good for you? Turns out that avocados are high in folate, too. Spread avocado on toast and top with olive oil and lemon juice for a perfect start to the day or dice up avocados and add to a salad made with spinach and water-packed tuna fish for a healthy lunch.