A balanced diet with folate-rich food can help prevent birth defects, cancer, anemia, heart disease, and cognitive impairment. Folate, or vitamin B-9, is an essential vitamin that helps the body synthesize DNA and the metabolism of amino acids.
Folate is a water-soluble vitamin and occurs naturally in leafy green vegetables, fruits, beans, and some nuts.
Top 6 folate-rich foods include:
- Garbanzo beans (1/2 cup = 557 mcg)
- Lentils (1/2 cup = 179 mcg)
- Pinto Beans (1/2 cup = 146 mcg)
- Asparagus (1/2 cup = 134 mcg)
- Black eyes Peas (1/2 cup = 112 mcg)
- Spinach (1 cup = 56 mcg)
Our daily diet should contain 400 mcg of folate to avoid the body developing folate deficiency, which can cause many health problems, especially if you are pregnant.
Individuals that are at risk of a folate deficiency are:
- Pregnant women
- Women who are breastfeeding
- Individuals with alcohol dependency
- Patients on dialysis
- Patients with malabsorptive disorders
- Patients with liver disease
Benefits of Folate
Folate provides the body with numerous benefits and protects us from developing certain diseases.
1. Promotes Healthy Pregnancy
Folate is an extremely beneficial vitamin during pregnancy due to its ability to reduce the risk of neural tube defects, which are defects related to the brain and spine. The essential vitamin helps the mother have a healthy pregnancy and keeps the fetus healthy in the process, as well.
2. Prevents Cancer
Sometimes, our cells develop mutations that can lead to harmful diseases known as cancer. The DNA in these individual cells are damaged and cause numerous problems in the body.
Folate plays a big part in DNA replication and works to prevent DNA from being damaged, therefore, reducing the risk of cancer and other diseases.
3. Improves Liver Health
Our liver works hard to keep the body healthy by flushing out unwanted toxins every day. Overconsumption of certain substances, such as alcohol, not only affects the body in a negative way but also has damaging effects on the liver.
Folate facilitates the detoxification of the liver and keeps it can even reverse the damage done by alcohol by making sure the necessary antioxidants needed by the liver are at healthy levels.
4. Boosts Heart Health
Studies have shown a link between high levels of homocysteine, a compound found in the blood, to increased risks of having a heart attack and stroke. Folate helps to reduce the levels of homocysteine in the blood and, therefore, plays a part in protecting us from developing heart disease.
There have been numerous studies that link folate and cardiovascular disease. Individuals who consume a diet rich in folate have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease compared those individuals who do not.
5. May Prevent Depression
Our brain releases neurotransmitters that play a part in regulating our moods. Dopamine and serotonin are two chemicals released by the brain that are responsible for our mood and can affect us negatively if altered.
Besides the internal factors, external factors such as our social connections and our work environment also play a big part in how we feel. If we maintain a diet that gives our body enough folate, we can protect ourselves from feelings of depression.
Folate is known to increase the creation and absorption of neurotransmitters and help to prevent mood swings and even depression.
The best way to prevent a folate deficiency is by getting your daily recommended amount from food. Make sure you consult your doctor if you are thinking of making any changes to your diet, especially if you have a medical condition or are on any medications.
Axe, J. (2018, March 09). Top 10 High Folate Foods. Retrieved April 05, 2018, from https://draxe.com/top-10-vitamin-b9-folate-foods/
Folate (folic acid). (2017, October 24). Retrieved April 05, 2018, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-folate/art-20364625
Group, E., D., & NP. (2015, October 02). 9 Incredible Health Benefits of Folate. Retrieved April 05, 2018, from https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/9-incredible-health-benefits-of-folate/