10+ Healthy Foods That Are High In Folate

folate sources

Quick Health Scoop

  • Folate is part of the B vitamin family and found naturally in foods, while folic acid is the synthetic form of folate used in supplements and fortified foods
  • Foods high in folate include beans, peas, and lentils
  • Other natural sources of folate include leafy green vegetables, seeds, and citrus fruits
  • Foods that contain folic acid include fortified cereals, breads, and rice

Folate earned its nickname as “the pregnancy vitamin” because it plays a critical role in the proper development of the baby’s nervous system.1, † That’s why it’s especially important for women of childbearing age, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, to take a daily dose of 400 mcg of folic acid (on top of eating a healthy diet full of folate-rich foods) to help reduce the risk of major birth defects of the developing baby’s spine and brain.2

While you may know folate as “the pregnancy vitamin,” this water-soluble, B-complex vitamin provides other health benefits to men and women of all ages, and children. (How much folate you need per day depends on your age, life stage, and gender.) Also known as vitamin B9, folate helps support nervous system function, convert food into cellular energy, produce DNA, help make healthy new cells, and produce red blood cells.1,3 †

Learn More: Folic Acid Benefits

Vitamin B9 sources include both folate-rich foods, folic-acid rich foods, and folic acid in dietary supplements. What’s the difference? It helps to understand how folate differs from folic acid. While folate is naturally found in the food we eat, folic acid is the synthetic form used in dietary supplements and fortified foods. Also, it’s harder for the body to digest, absorb, and metabolize folate. In contrast, folic acid is easier to digest, absorb, and metabolize in the body, which is why it’s used to fortify foods.4

As an essential water-soluble vitamin, folate dissolves in water and then gets delivered to the body’s tissues. However, the body doesn’t store folate very well, and any excess leaves the body through the urine.5 Because of this, folate must be consumed every day through your diet or dietary supplements to replenish the body’s needed supply. 

By now, you may want to give your diet a refresh to ensure it contains plenty of folate-rich foods. But what are the best sources of folate? Read on!

Foods High in Folate

When it comes to incorporating key nutrients into your healthy lifestyle, what’s the best source of folate-rich foods? As always, the best source of important vitamins and minerals comes from eating a variety of nutritious foods

Wondering what specific foods are high in folate? Your best bet are legumes—especially certain beans, peas, and lentils. Take a look at this top 10 list of foods with the highest amounts of folate in a one-cup serving: 6

  1. Mung beans: 1294 mcg
  2. Adzuki beans: 1225 mcg
  3. Garbanzo beans (chickpeas): 1194 mcg
  4. Black-eye peas: 1057 mcg
  5. Pinto beans: 1013 mcg
  6. Pink beans: 972 mcg
  7. Pigeon peas: 935 mcg
  8. Lentils: 920 mcg
  9. Great northern beans: 882 mcg
  10. Black beans: 861 mcg

But what if you don’t like beans or peas? No worries—you’ve got plenty of other options!

Other Vitamin B9 Foods 

The folate-rich foods list below includes a variety of smart choices to add into your diet, including fruits (especially oranges) and their juices, vegetables (like asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and dark leafy greens), seeds, and nuts.1

This helpful chart shows both foods that are natural sources of folate as well as fortified foods high in folic acid. Plus, it shows how much of this nutrient is in each food to help you make healthy eating choices.6,7,8

Folate Food Source

Serving Size

How Much Folate? (mcg)

White rice (long-grain, enriched)

1 cup

797

Cereal (Kellogg’s All Bran Complete, wheatflakes)

¾ cup

676

Cereal (General Mills Total, whole grain)

¾ cup

676

Chicken (broilers or fryers, giblets, cooked, fried)

1 cup

550

Edamame (frozen, prepared)

1 cup

482

Turkey (liver, all classes, cooked, simmered)

1 liver

366

Peanuts (valencia, raw)

1 cup

359

Lamb (variety meats and by-products, liver, cooked, pan-fried)

3 oz.

340

Wheat germ

1 cup

323

Sunflower seed kernels

1 cup

319

Quinoa (uncooked)

1 cup

313

Beef (variety meats and by-products, liver, raw)

3 oz.

246

Asparagus

1 cup

243

Orange juice (frozen concentrate, unsweetened, undiluted)

1 cup

202

Turnip greens

1 cup

170

White pasta (spaghetti, enriched, cooked)

1 cup

167

Beets

1 cup

148

Okra (frozen, unprepared)

10 oz. package

141

Hazelnuts

1 cup

130

Broccoli (frozen)

1 cup

105

Corn (canned)

1 cup

103

Potatoes (Russet, unpeeled)

1 cup

78

Almonds

1 cup

76

Plantains

1 cup

74

Mangos

1 cup

71

Oranges

1 cup

70

Chinese cabbage (bok choy)

1 cup

70

Collards (frozen)

10 oz. package

69

Pumpkin seeds

1 cup

67

White pita bread

6½” diameter

64

Mussels

1 cup

63

Whole wheat pasta

1 cup

63

Pomegranate juice

1 cup

60

Spinach

1 cup

58

Flour tortilla

1 tortilla

58

Brussels sprouts

1 cup

54

Papaya

1 cup

54

Blackberries (frozen)

1 cup

51

Zucchini

1 cup

50

Lemon juice

1 cup

49

Feta cheese

1 cup

48

Kiwifruit

1 cup

45

Butternut squash

1 cup

39

Tofu (firm)

1 cup

37

Crab

3 oz.

36

Cheddar cheese

1 cup

36

Endive

½ cup

36

The Bottom Line

Men, women, and children all need vitamin B9, whether that’s in its naturally occuring form (folate) or synthetic form (folic acid). The best source of folate is legumes, particularly certain kinds of beans, peas, and lentils. However, other good sources of folate include vegetables (like asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and dark leafy greens), fruits (especially oranges), nuts, and seeds. Sources of folic acid include both supplements, like Nature Made’s Folic Acid (B9) supplement, as well as fortified foods such as breakfast cereals, breads, and rice.

Continue to check back on the Nature Made blog for the latest science-backed articles to help you take ownership of your health.

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This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice or a recommendation for any specific product. Consult your health care provider for more information.

† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

References 

  1. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. “Folate.” March 22, 2021. Accessed on: August 22, 2021. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-Consumer/
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Folic Acid.” April 19, 2021. Accessed on: August 12, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/folicacid/about.html
  3. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. “Folate and Folic Acid on the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels.” June 29, 2020. Accessed on: August 12, 2021. https://www.fda.gov/food/new-nutrition-facts-label/folate-and-folic-acid-nutrition-and-supplement-facts-labels
  4. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. “Human Vitamin and Mineral Requirements, Chapter 4: Folate and folic acid.” 2001. Accessed on: August 13, 2021. http://www.fao.org/3/y2809e/y2809e.pdf
  5. Medline. “Vitamins.” February 26, 2021. Accessed on: August 22, 2021. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002399.htm
  6. USDA. “National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy.” 2018. Accessed on: August 22, 2021. https://www.nal.usda.gov/sites/www.nal.usda.gov/files/folate.pdf
  7. USDA. “USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.” 2016. Accessed on: August 22, 2021. https://ods.od.nih.gov/pubs/usdandb/Folate-Content.pdf
  8. Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute. “Folate.” December 2014. Accessed on: August 22, 2021.  https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/folate#DFEs