Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is a water-soluble vitamin that has many important functions in your body.
In particular, it supports healthy cell division and promotes proper fetal growth and development to reduce the risk of birth defects ().
Folate is found naturally in many foods, as well as in the form of folic acid in fortified foods.
It’s recommended that healthy adults get at least 400 mcg of folate per day to prevent a deficiency (2).
Here are 15 healthy foods that are high in folate or folic acid.
Legumes are the fruit or seed of any plant in the Fabaceae family, including beans, peas and lentils.
Although the exact amount of folate in legumes can vary, they’re an excellent source of folate.
For example, one cup (177 grams) of cooked kidney beans contains 131 mcg of folate, or about 33% of the RDI (3).
Meanwhile, one cup (198 grams) of cooked lentils contains 358 mcg of folate, which is 90% of the RDI (4).
Legumes are also a great source of protein, fiber and antioxidants, as well as important micronutrients such as potassium, magnesium and iron ().
Summary Legumes are rich in folate and many other nutrients. One cup (198 grams) of cooked lentils contains 90% of the RDI, while one cup (177 grams) of cooked kidney beans contains about 33% of the RDI.
Asparagus contains a concentrated amount of many vitamins and minerals, including folate.
In fact, a half-cup (90-gram) serving of cooked asparagus contains about 134 mcg of folate, or 34% of the RDI (6).
Asparagus is also rich in antioxidants and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties ().
What’s more, they’re an excellent source of heart-healthy fiber, knocking out up to 7% of your daily fiber needs in just one serving (6).
Summary Asparagus is high in fiber and contains a good amount of folate, with about 34% of the RDI per half-cup serving.
Adding eggs to your diet is a great way to boost your intake of several essential nutrients, including folate.
Just one large egg packs in 23.5 mcg of folate, or approximately 6% of the RDI (8).
Including even just a few servings of eggs in your diet each week is an easy way to boost your folate intake and help meet your needs.
Eggs are also loaded with protein, selenium, riboflavin and vitamin B12 (8).
Furthermore, they are high in lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that may help reduce the risk of eye disorders like macular degeneration (, ).
Summary Eggs are a good source of folate, with about 6% of the RDI in just one large egg.
Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale and arugula are low in calories yet bursting with many key vitamins and minerals, including folate.
One cup (30 grams) of raw spinach provides 58.2 mcg, or 15% of the RDI (11).
Leafy greens are also high in fiber and vitamins K and A and have been associated with a host of health benefits.
Studies show that eating more cruciferous vegetables, such as leafy greens, may be associated with reduced inflammation, a lower risk of cancer and increased weight loss (, , ).
Summary Leafy green vegetables are high in many nutrients, including folate. One cup (30 grams) of raw spinach contains about 15% of the RDI.
In addition to providing a burst of color to main dishes and desserts alike, beets are rich in many important nutrients.
They contain much of the manganese, potassium and vitamin C that you need over the course of a day.
They’re also a great source of folate, with a single cup (136 grams) of raw beets containing 148 mcg of folate, or about 37% of the RDI (15).
Besides their micronutrient content, beets are high in nitrates, a type of plant compound that’s been associated with many health benefits.
One small study showed that drinking beetroot juice temporarily lowered systolic blood pressure by 4–5 mmHg in healthy adults ().
Summary Beets are high in nitrates and folate. One cup (136 grams) of raw beets contains 37% of the RDI for folate.
Besides being delicious and full of flavor, citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes are rich in folate.
Just one large orange contains 55 mcg of folate, or about 14% of the RDI (17).
Citrus fruits are also packed with vitamin C, an essential micronutrient that can boost immunity and aid in disease prevention ().
In fact, observational studies have found that a high intake of citrus fruits may be associated with a lower risk of breast, stomach and pancreatic cancer (, , ).
Summary Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C and folate. One large orange contains about 14% of the RDI.
This nutritious vegetable belongs to the cruciferous family of vegetables and is closely related to other greens like kale, broccoli, cabbage and kohlrabi.
Brussels sprouts are brimming with many vitamins and minerals and especially high in folate.
A half-cup (78-gram) serving of cooked Brussels sprouts can supply 47 mcg of folate, or 12% of the RDI (22).
They are also a great source of kaempferol, an antioxidant associated with numerous health benefits.
Animal studies show that kaempferol can reduce inflammation and prevent oxidative damage to cells (, ).
Summary Brussels sprouts contain a good amount of antioxidants and micronutrients. A half cup (78 grams) of cooked Brussels sprouts provides about 12% of the RDI for folate.
Well known for its multitude of health-promoting properties, adding broccoli to your diet can provide an array of essential vitamins and minerals.
When it comes to folate, one cup (91 grams) of raw broccoli contains around 57 mcg of folate, or about 14% of the RDI (25).
Cooked broccoli contains even more folate, with each half-cup (78-gram) serving providing 84 mcg, or 21% of the RDI (26).
Broccoli is also high in manganese and vitamins C, K and A.
It also contains a wide variety of beneficial plant compounds, including sulforaphane, which has been studied extensively for its powerful anti-cancer properties ().
Summary Broccoli, especially when cooked, is rich in folate. One cup (91 grams) of raw broccoli provides 14% of the RDI, while one-half cup (78 grams) of cooked broccoli can supply 21% of your daily needs.
There are plenty of reasons to consider upping your intake of nuts and seeds.
In addition to containing a hearty dose of protein, they are rich in fiber and many of the vitamins and minerals that your body needs.
Incorporating more nuts and seeds into your diet can also help you meet your daily folate needs.
The amount of folate in various types of nuts and seeds can vary slightly.
Summary Nuts and seeds supply a good amount of folate in each serving. One ounce (28 grams) of almonds and flaxseed provides 7% and 6% of the RDI, respectively.
Beef liver is one of the most concentrated sources of folate available.
A 3-ounce (85-gram) serving of cooked beef liver packs 212 mcg of folate, or about 54% of the RDI (30).
In addition to folate, a single serving of beef liver can meet and exceed your daily requirements for vitamin A, vitamin B12 and copper (30).
It’s also loaded with protein, providing a whopping 24 grams per 3-ounce (85-gram) serving.
Protein is necessary for tissue repair and the production of important enzymes and hormones.
Summary Beef liver is high in protein and folate, with about 54% of the RDI of folate in a single 3-ounce (85-gram) serving.
Wheat germ is the embryo of the wheat kernel.
Although it’s often removed during the milling process, it supplies a highly concentrated amount of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Just one ounce (28 grams) of wheat germ provides 78.7 mcg of folate, which equals about 20% of your daily folate needs (31).
Fiber moves slowly through the GI tract, adding bulk to your stool to help promote regularity, prevent constipation and keep blood sugar levels steady (, ).
Summary Wheat germ is high in fiber, antioxidants and micronutrients. One ounce (28 grams) of wheat germ contains about 20% of the RDI for folate.
Papaya is a nutrient-dense tropical fruit native to southern Mexico and Central America.
Besides being delicious and full of flavor, papaya is jam-packed with folate.
One cup (140 grams) of raw papaya contains 53 mcg of folate, which is equal to about 13% of the RDI (34).
Additionally, papaya is high in vitamin C, potassium and antioxidants like carotenoids (34).
Summary Papaya is rich in antioxidants and folate. One cup (140 grams) of raw papaya provides approximately 13% of the RDI for folate.
Rich in a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, bananas are a nutritional powerhouse.
They are especially high in folate and can easily help you meet your daily needs when paired with a few other folate-rich foods.
A medium banana can supply 23.6 mcg of folate, or 6% of the RDI (35).
Bananas are high in other nutrients as well, including potassium, vitamin B6 and manganese (35).
Summary Bananas contain a good amount of folate. One medium banana contains about 6% of the RDI.
Avocados are incredibly popular due to their creamy texture and buttery flavor.
In addition to their unique taste, avocados are an excellent source of many important nutrients, including folate.
One-half of a raw avocado contains 82 mcg of folate, or about 21% of what you need for the entire day (36).
Plus, avocados are rich in potassium and vitamins K, C and B6 (36).
They’re also high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which may protect against heart disease ().
Summary Avocados are high in heart-healthy fats and folate, with one-half of a raw avocado providing about 21% of the RDI for folate.
Many types of grains, such as bread and pasta, have been fortified to boost their folic acid content.
The amounts can vary between different products, but one cup (140 grams) of cooked spaghetti supplies approximately 102 mcg of folic acid, or 26% of the RDI (38).
Interestingly, some studies have demonstrated that the folic acid in fortified foods may be more easily absorbed than the folate found naturally in foods.
For example, one study concluded that the folate in foods such as fruits and vegetables is only about 78% as bioavailable as the folic acid in fortified foods ().
Conversely, other research suggests that the specific enzyme used by the body to break down folic acid in fortified foods is not as efficient, which can result in a build-up of unmetabolized folic acid ().
A well-balanced diet that’s rich in natural sources of folate with moderate amounts of fortified foods can ensure you’re meeting your needs, all while minimizing potential health concerns.
Summary Fortified grains contain added amounts of folic acid. One cup (140 grams) of cooked spaghetti contains about 26% of the RDI.
Folate is an important micronutrient found in abundance throughout your diet.
Eating a variety of healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, as well as fortified foods, is an easy way to increase your folate intake.
Not only are these foods rich in folate, but they are also high in other key nutrients that can improve other aspects of your health.