Folate has been one of the most carefully examined nutrients in the last 100 years. Officially known as vitamin B9, folate is actually a group of B vitamins that contribute to healthy bodily functions, including cell repair and cancer and heart disease prevention. Folate is commonly misnamed as folic acid, which is a synthetic B vitamin that has been proven to lower the effects of neural tube defects in infants. What you may not know is that the body cannot properly process folic acid, so go straight for the natural source: folate.
Let’s start out with the major one that everybody talks about when it comes to folate. It is recommended that pregnant women, or women in their childbearing years, get their daily dose of folate. Low levels of folate can lead to improper development of the fetus’ brain and spinal chord. Studies have shown that eating folate prior to conception, and up to 3 months after, can reduce the risk of birth defects by 50%.
Lowers Your Risk of Stroke & Heart Disease
Eating foods that are high in folate can help the heart stay healthy and function optimally. The best foods to eat are leafy green vegetables such as kale, spinach, broccoli, citrus fruits, avocados, asparagus, and legumes. Getting folate in your diet can help remove homocysteine, which is a toxin that can lead to arterial damage.
Promotes Healthy Sperm
Eating foods high in folate on a daily basis has been known to improve sperm health in men. On the other hand, men who do not regularly consume folate may produce sperm with an incorrect chromosomal structure. A 2012 study actually found that infertile men who ate folate everyday saw increased sperm health, and were able to achieve pregnancies with their partners.
Production of Red Blood Cells
Red blood cells carry hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to every part of the body. Additionally, red blood cells remove carbon dioxide from the body by bringing it to your lungs for you to exhale. Folate assists in the production of red blood cells, and it actually aids in the production of white blood cells too!
Improves Brain Health
As you get older, keeping your mind sharp and healthy is important. One of the best ways to do this is by eating foods that are high in folate. Folate has been shown to slow the effects of cognitive decline.