What are the Best Sources of Folate?

B. Schreiber
B. Schreiber
Wheat germ is one of the rare grain products that are high in folate.
Wheat germ is one of the rare grain products that are high in folate.

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.

Lentils are very high in folate.
Lentils are very high in folate.

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.

Broccoli and sweet red peppers are packed with folate, important for pregnant and nursing women.
Broccoli and sweet red peppers are packed with folate, important for pregnant and nursing women.

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.

Greek salad made with romaine lettuce, a good source of folate.
Greek salad made with romaine lettuce, a good source of folate.

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.

Chard can provide some of a person's folate needs.
Chard can provide some of a person's folate needs.

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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    • Wheat germ is one of the rare grain products that are high in folate.
      Wheat germ is one of the rare grain products that are high in folate.
    • Lentils are very high in folate.
      By: gitusik
      Lentils are very high in folate.
    • Broccoli and sweet red peppers are packed with folate, important for pregnant and nursing women.
      By: Goran Bogicevic
      Broccoli and sweet red peppers are packed with folate, important for pregnant and nursing women.
    • Greek salad made with romaine lettuce, a good source of folate.
      By: Denis Tabler
      Greek salad made with romaine lettuce, a good source of folate.
    • Chard can provide some of a person's folate needs.
      By: Quanthem
      Chard can provide some of a person's folate needs.
    • Spinach can be used to make healthy, green smoothies.
      By: tashka2000
      Spinach can be used to make healthy, green smoothies.
    • Kale contains a relatively small amount of folate.
      By: forevergreen
      Kale contains a relatively small amount of folate.
    • Spinach is an excellent source of folate.
      By: Dionisvera
      Spinach is an excellent source of folate.
    • Corn kernels are good sources of folate.
      By: smereka
      Corn kernels are good sources of folate.
    • Beans are high in folate.
      Beans are high in folate.
    • A few slices of avocado contain about 60 mcg of folate.
      By: Richard Villalon
      A few slices of avocado contain about 60 mcg of folate.
    • Curly endive, which contains folate.
      By: ExQuisine
      Curly endive, which contains folate.
    • Leafy green vegetables contain significant amounts of folate.
      By: NataliTerr
      Leafy green vegetables contain significant amounts of folate.
    • Cantaloupe contains folate.
      By: Malyshchyts Viktar
      Cantaloupe contains folate.
    • Navy beans, a good source of folate.
      By: BronxPhotog
      Navy beans, a good source of folate.
    • Chickpeas are high in folate.
      Chickpeas are high in folate.
    • Dry-roasted peanuts may contain a significant amount of folate.
      By: pilotl39
      Dry-roasted peanuts may contain a significant amount of folate.