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The best sources of folate include the many types of beans, leafy green vegetables, and green vegetables like broccoli and asparagus. Good animal sources of folate include beef and chicken liver, while other animal sources and dairy products provide little if any folate. Fruits including oranges, cantaloupes, and bananas also supply some folate. Folate is the naturally occurring form of folic acid, which is a B vitamin. The recommended daily intake (RDI) for folate is 400 micrograms (mcg) for most adults and 500 or 600 mcg for nursing and pregnant women, respectively.
Almost all types of beans are especially good sources of folate, including canned beans. One cup of black or navy beans contains about 250 mcg of folate. A cup of pinto beans can contribute closer to 300 mcg. Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, have almost as much folate as pinto beans.
Other beans and legumes can also help meet the RDA for folate. An ounce of dry-roasted peanuts contains about 40 mcg of folate. Lentils are very high in this vitamin. One cup of lentils, with about 350 mcg of folate, is nearly enough to meet most people's daily requirement. Lima beans, also known as butter beans and sometimes sold as baby lima beans, contain about 250 to 300 mcg.
One of the better vegetable sources of folate is asparagus, which has about 130 mcg in one cooked half cup. Spinach and romaine lettuce are also good sources, as a small serving of either contains about 50 mcg or more of folate. Other greens such as Swiss chard, kale, and endive contain folate in smaller amounts. Cooked beets are almost as good of a source as fresh spinach.
Generally, animal and dairy products don't contain a lot of folate. Two exceptions are beef and chicken liver. A serving of beef liver can contribute about half the RDA for folate, while chicken liver provides almost 150 percent of the RDA. Most grains and grain products aren't good sources of folate, either. Two notable exceptions are corn kernels and wheat germ.
Folic acid isn't found in very many fruits. One medium orange contains about 10 percent of the RDA, and frozen orange juice may have somewhat more. Bananas and cantaloupe can help meet the RDA for folate, but each only contains about 20 mcg. Technically a fruit but often prepared as a vegetable, a few slices of avocado contain about 60 mcg of folate.
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