You need folate, or folic acid, for cell division and forming DNA, and iron is essential for forming red blood cells and transporting oxygen. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration determined a daily value for iron and folate of 18 milligrams and 400 micrograms, respectively. While many foods are high in one or the other of these nutrients, only a few foods are high in both.
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Mussels and Liver
Iron from animal-based sources, called heme iron, is better absorbed than that from plant sources, or nonheme iron. Liver and mussels are two of the few good animal-based sources of both iron and folate. Each 3-ounce serving of mussels contains 132 percent of the 18-milligram daily value for iron and 17 percent of the 400-microgram DV for folate. A 3.5-ounce serving of chicken liver has about 129 percent of the DV for iron and 145 percent of the DV for folate.
Beans and Lentils
You can also increase your intake of iron and folate by eating more beans and lentils. A cup of cooked lentils provides 37 percent of the DV for iron and 90 percent of the DV for folate. The same amount of black-eyed peas contains 20 percent of the DV for iron and 89 percent for folate. Other beans high in both of these nutrients include black beans, pinto beans, navy beans, lima beans, kidney beans and chickpeas.
Artichokes and Green Leafy Vegetables
Vegetables are some of the best sources of folate, although relatively few provide significant amounts of iron. Artichokes are a good source, with 28 percent of the DV for iron per cup of slices and 38 percent of the DV for folate per cup of hearts. Green leafy vegetables, like spinach and Swiss chard, are also nutritious options. A cup of cooked spinach has 36 percent of the DV for iron and 66 percent of the DV for folate.
Start your day off with a serving of fortified, ready-to-eat breakfast cereal, and you might fulfill your daily needs for both iron and folate. Cereals are often fortified with these nutrients, but to varying amounts, so check the nutrition facts label to determine whether your favorite is a good source of iron and folate.