Folic acid important for mom, baby on the way |

Folic acid important for mom, baby on the way

Taking care of your health is doubly important when you’re pregnant, because you’re eating for two.

Pregnant mothers also run the risk of certain deficiencies, such as iron, calcium and folate deficiencies. And whether or not you’re pregnant, a healthy diet includes proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and plenty of water.

The U.S. government publishes dietary guidelines that can help determine how many servings of each kind of food to eat every day. Eating a variety of foods in the proportions indicated is a good step toward staying healthy.

Folate, also called folic acid, is a B-vitamin that works with iron to help with cell growth.

Folate deficiency in pregnancy is often associated with iron deficiency since both folic acid and iron are found in the same types of foods. Research shows that folic acid may help reduce the risk of having a baby with certain birth defects of the brain and spinal cord if taken before conception and in early pregnancy. Folic acid is also needed for blood and protein production and effective enzyme function.

Folic acid is a B vitamin (B9) found mostly in leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach, colorful fruits and vegetables, oranges, bananas, eggs, berries, nuts, beans and enriched grains. Repeated studies have shown that women who get 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) daily prior to conception and during early pregnancy reduce the risk that their baby will be born with a serious neural tube defect (a birth defect involving incomplete development of the brain and spinal cord) by up to 70 percent.

Neural tube defects can occur very early in pregnancy (about 18-30 days after conception), often before a woman even knows she is pregnant. Therefore, it is important to follow a healthy diet, including getting enough folic acid, for those trying to conceive.

In 1998, the Food and Drug Administration mandated that folic acid be added to enriched grain products, so you can boost your intake by looking for breakfast cereals, breads, pastas, and rice containing 100 percent of the recommended daily folic acid allowance. But for most women, eating fortified foods isn’t enough. To reach the recommended daily level, a vitamin supplement may be advised.

Anchovies are a fabulous source of omega-3, protein and calcium. In this recipe they melt into the dressing, adding subtle flavor without noticeable fishiness. If you don’t like them, however, you can omit them and add an additional 1/4 teaspoon salt instead. The veggies and the rice are good sources of folate.

3 cups water

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 cup wild rice (or fortified brown rice)

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1/4 cup chopped green onion, including tender green parts

6 anchovy fillets, preferably olive oil packed, minced

2 red bell peppers, roasted and peeled, then chopped

1/4 flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, chopped, plus 1 or 2 whole sprigs

3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil

4 cups escarole, washed, patted dry and gently torn into bite-sized pieces

To roast the peppers, grill outside or bake in oven at 375 degrees in a shallow baking dish until skin begins to blacken and peel. Place into a brown paper bag while cooling, which helps steam the peppers and loosen the skin. Peel when just warm to the touch.

In saucepan over medium-high heat, combine water and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to boil. Add wild rice, let water return to boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook until the rice has absorbed the water and many of the kernels have split, about 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, to steam for about 15 minutes.

Transfer rice to bowl. Add sherry and red wine vinegars, green onion, anchovies, all but 1 tablespoon of bell peppers, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and the chopped parsley. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil and gently mix. If it seems a little dry, add remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Cover and let stand 1 hour before serving to let flavors blend.

Place escarole onto salad plates, or into resealable plastic containers for a packed lunch. Just before serving or leaving home, ladle about a cup of rice mixture onto greens. Keep chilled until ready to eat.

Makes 4 servings.

” Scripps Howard News Service

The lentils and rice are excellent sources of folic acid, and the Swiss cheese provides needed calcium.

3/4 cup lentils, washed and sorted

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup grated Swiss cheese

1/2 cup uncooked brown rice

4 cups vegetable broth

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine everything except 1/2 cup of the Swiss cheese in a bowl. Pour into a 2-quart baking dish, cover, and bake at 350 degrees for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Uncover and top with the remaining cheese. Bake another 5 minutes.

” iParenting LLC

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