Folate is super important for moms-to-be! Put these high folate foods on your pregnancy plate for a healthy helping of this vital vitamin.

What’s so special about folate, you may ask? This B vitamin is crucial for preventing birth defects of the brain and spine, such as spina bifida and anencephaly. These defects happen in the first several weeks of pregnancy, often before women even know they’re pregnant.

Before you plan on becoming pregnant, be sure to get your daily recommended amount of folate with supplements and high folate foods. Start taking a multivitamin with folic acid, which is the synthetic form of folate that’s used in supplements and fortified foods (like bread, cereal, pasta, rice and other grain products). For a tasty way to get your fill, fill your plate with these high folate foods:

  • Black-eyed peas and green peas
  • Beans and lentils
  • Spinach and romaine lettuce
  • Collard, mustard and turnip greens
  • Green veggies like asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and okra
  • Avocado
  • Peanuts and sunflower seeds
  • Flax seed
  • Beets, cauliflower and squash
  • Fruits like papaya, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries and bananas
  • Orange juice (100% is best) and tomato juice

All women should take a daily multivitamin with at least 400 mcg (micrograms) of folic acid. Pregnant women need to bump that up to 600 mcg. Some moms-to-be may require more than 600 mcg—ask your healthcare provider if you’re unsure.

Further reading: Tips on How to Keep Fruits and Vegetables Fresh

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