S2E4: Adding Food Sources of Folate

Food sources of folate (natural folate, not foods enriched with folic acid) are some of the best foods out there, so with MTHFR we truly are blessed that our healthy foods are also some of the foods that taste the best. Also, high folate foods are heavily represented in Tex-Mex, so there’s another reason to be grateful.

The average person should shoot for about 400 mcg of natural folate daily. For the full nutritional requirements and more information about it, read this post.

Almost all natural food sources – beans, pulses, some meats, fruits, and vegetables, have natural folate in them. It’s easy to come by in a healthy, well-rounded diet. That doesn’t mean that everyone gets good amounts, but if you’ve made any healthy changes to your diet, you’re probably in better shape folate-wise than you think you are. Let’s talk about major food sources.

Beans, Pulses, and Legumes.

These miracle foods are high on the best-foods-for-health list anyway, but if you’re an MTHFR mutant, then so much the better. A few bean-related tips:

  • Cooked from dried beans always have more folate in them than canned.
  • Soaking dried beans before cooking helps to reduce cooking time.
  • Cooking from dried generally takes a while.
  • Mashed beans can be added to almost any recipe in place of oil to add moisture (as you might add applesauce)
  • Bean flour can be used as well – checkpea flour is reasonably easy to find.
  • Beans are high in fiber so if you suddenly start eating them you’ll notice more gas, but as your body gets used to a higher fiber diet the gas will settle down.
  • Beans and other high fiber foods are great for your digestive health and help provide a happy environment for all those good bacteria everyone keeps going on about.
Food typeFolate (mcg) per 100gFolate (mcg) per cup
Lentils (cooked from dried)280358
Black beans (cooked from dried)200256
Black beans (canned)119152
Chickpeas (cooked from dried)220282
Chickpeas (canned)126161
Edamame (frozen)311 398
Red kidney beans (canned)102131
Black eyed peas (cooked from dried)280358
Black eyed peas (canned)95122
Peanut butter (all natural, 100% peanuts)92118
Peanuts237.5304

You’ll notice that a cup of beans will typically provide 50-90% of your daily recommended folate in one fell swoop. Easy peasy.

Fruits and Vegetables

There are a number of great fruit and veggie sources of natural folate as well, and fruits and veggies with two meals will go a long way to racking up those natural folate micrograms.

Food typeFolate (mcg) per 100gFolate (mcg) per cup
Asparagus7 spears – 15412 spears – 264
Avocado81 152
Broccoli6178
Okra5874
Papaya4153
Spinach (cooked)205263
Green peas6685
Orange3646

Condiments

This entire category is pretty much for one line item, which is marmite. Marmite is a yeast extract that is very popular in Great Britain and was the original source from which folate was discovered. 100 g of marmite has a whopping 1250 mcg of folate (unhelpfully labeled folic acid because the terms are interchangeable) but there is no earthly human who could possibly choke down 100g of marmite in one day under threat of mortal peril. A “serving size” on the marmite website contains 100 mcg but it is unclear what the serving size actually is. I’m guessing, it’s enough marmite to spread a thin layer on a piece of toast.

If marmite isn’t a thing you have grown up with, it is something of an acquired taste. I love it and eat it daily – typically on rice cakes because I’m gluten free and typically with a bit of butter and avocado. It’s divine. Two rice cakes like this, you will notice, is also my 400 mcg of folate because it’s marmite and avocado combined. Food genius. Plus, it’s heavenly.

On the marmite website, there is an additional product, which I have not ever seen, called marmite and peanut butter. If you’ve never tried marmite you are probably not as appalled by this thought as I am. I am also very curious. Marmite is salty-tangy and peanut butter is, well, peanut-buttery. The two don’t go together in my mind, but obviously, people like the combo enough to make a mixed product. So what do I know? I do have to point out that peanuts are also high in natural folate.

So the goal here is 400 mcg daily, which is easiest to do if you just plan to accommodate some beans, some fruit and veg, and maybe some marmite to spice things up. Also, if you’ve never tried marmite before I highly recommend you film your reaction the first time you eat it and join the thousands of other marmite reactions on youtube because it’s a pretty vivid flavor. If you do this thing, please loop me in and send me the video – I would love to see it.

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