When I learned that folate reduces homocysteine levels, which in turn reduces your risk of Alzheimers, heart and kidney disease, even some cancers and birth defects, I wanted to read related research.
I was particularly interested in a study that looked at supplements vs diet: Dietary strategies for lowering homocysteine, a study by Riddell, Chisholm and Williams.
The study found that in the course of 12 weeks 437 mcg of folic acid lowered homocysteine 21%, fortified breakfast cereals lowered it 24% and a 418 mcg increase in folate rich veggies lowered homocysteine levels only 9%. The researchers wrote, “from a practical point of view it is difficult to increase the consumption of folate-rich foods in free-living individuals to an extent that will result in higher dietary intakes.”
I was skeptical that folic acid supplements lower homocysteine more effectively than increasing the amount of folate rich veggies you eat, until I did a chart of the folate content of veggies.
While there’s quite a lot of folate in asparagus with 268 mcg, broccoli with 302 mcg, avocados with 122 mcg, turnip greens with 170 mcg, mustard greens with 105 mcg, and peas with 101 mcg, there isn’t very much in other veggies, and if you eat them raw rather shrunken by cooking so that more fit into a cup, there’s not nearly as much as I expected.
Folate vs Folic Acid
Folate is a naturally occurring, readily bioavailable B vitamin found in green veg.
In contrast to folate, folic acid is the synthetic form of the vitamin found in commercial supplements, as well as the natural form found in dried legumes, which are a rich source. The thing is, digesting the protein in legumes produces homocysteine, so I’m not sure their folic acid is enough to get ahead of the problem.
How much folate do your favorite veggies have?
|Food||mcg per cup|
|Brussels Sprouts, cooked||63|
|Brussels Sprouts, raw||53.7|
|Cabbage, red, cooked||16|
|Cucumber slices w/ peel||7.2|
|Dandelion greens, cooked||13.7|
|Dandelion greens, raw||14.9|
|Green Chili, canned||75.1|
|Lettuce, butterhead, bibb,||40.1|
|Lettuce, cos, romaine||75.16|
|Lettuce, green leaf||19.8|
|Lettuce, red leaf||18.3|
|Mustard Greens, cooked||102|
|Mustard Greens, raw||105|
|Onion Greens, raw||12.8|
|Pak Choi, cooked||69.7|
|Pak Choi, raw||46.2|
|Peas, sugarsnap, cooked||46.4|
|Peas, sugarsnap, raw||41.2|
|Pepper, sweet, green, cooked||21.6|
|Pepper, sweet, green, raw||14.9|
|Swiss Chard, cooked||15.7|
|Swiss Chard, raw||5|
|Tomato, canned, packed in juice||19.2|
|Tomato, canned, stewed||12.8|
|Tomato, orange, raw||45.8|
|Tomato, red, cooked||31.2|
|Tomato, red, raw||22.3|
|Tomato Sauce, canned||27.0|
|Tomato Soup, canned||0|
|Turnip Greens, cooked||170|
|Zucchini, baby, raw||6.4|
|Zucchini, w/skin, raw||36|
|Zucchini, w/skin, cooked||30.6|
You can look up nutritional values of almost any food, to include those prepared by Campbells, and even some fast food restaurants, at SELFNutrionData.