Health Bite: Folate

It's usually a little after a big weekend, or early into the new year that you start scanning the supplement shelves of your local pharmacy, searching for something (apart from those nifty liver pills) to make you feel more energetic, more aware, have more attention, be more present... One of the little pills that unless you're pregnant you've probably overlooked is folic acid, a synthetic form of folate, a B vitamin found in foods. While it's a vital nutrient for preventing birth defects, folate is an important part of your diet at every stage of your life. However that doesn't mean you need to spend a fortune on getting the synthetic version: you'll get more than enough from the below foods, and we've handily added some recipes to help you on your way to health. 1. Heart food: Folate is said to be good for cardiovascular health. It affects the blood levels of amino acid homocysteine, which had been found in high amounts in people with cardiovascular disease. Asparagus is one of the top sources of folate– four spears contain 89mcg of the vitamin. That's 22 per cent of your RDA. We recommend eating it in this quiche, which combines all the goodness of the green veg with irresistably creamy goat's cheese. 2. Cancer preventative: Scientists tasked with studying this enigma of a disease have found that in many cases, cancer patients have low levels of folate in their system, indicating a link between the two. There's also been shown to be a connection to lower risk in breast and colon cancer. We're all for minimising our risk, so we're putting plenty of lentils in our summer lunches starting with this orange lentil and shiitake wrap. Every half cup of this healthy grain contains 180mcg - 45 per cent of your RDA. 3. Health protection: Protecting yourself for the future is essential, and researchers have found a link between folate and age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's, loss of hearing, eye deterioration. When you eat 1 cup of fresh mango you get 71 mcg of folate, which means this summer dessert should be top of mind all season long. 4. Energy boost: Symptoms such as anemia, fatigue and irritability can indicate a folate deficiency. Eating leafy greens such as romaine lettuce is a surefire way to up your levels, plus it's versatile enough to eat with just about any meal. We like it on a slice of rye with tomato and eggs in the morning, or tossed with a healthy and fresh salad during lunch. Still not feeling great? Make an appointment with your doctor to get your vitamin levels checked out.