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Avocados and Folic Acid

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Holy guacamole! If you thought avocados were only good for chip dip, think again. Packed with folic acid and heart-healthy fat, consider the avocado a wonder fruit (yes, it's a fruit) for expectant moms and babies alike.

Moms-to-be:

Avocados contain more folate per ounce than any other fruit, with 45 micrograms per half cup. That's good news because folate (also called folic acid) is a key prenatal nutrient which produces and maintains new cells. Getting enough of it during your first trimester is essential because your baby's central nervous system (including the brain and spinal cord) forms during this time, explains Joseph Hersh, M.D., a pediatrician at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, in Kentucky, and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, and "folic acid has been shown to lower the risk of birth defects."

As a result, pregnant women and women trying to conceive are advised to take 400 micrograms of folic acid a day. And although your doctor will prescribe a prenatal vitamin that contains the nutrient, it's also a great idea to get as much as you can from food.

Bonus: Avocados are the only fruit that contain monounsaturated fat, which helps protect against heart disease, so you can happily say the words "diet" and "fat" in the same sentence.

Babies:

Monounsaturated fat is also necessary in the diet of your new bundle of joy. Once your baby is able to eat solid foods, avocados can help provide her with the "good" fat she needs for cognitive and visual development. Plus, avocados have more of the energy-boosting potassium your baby needs to grow than bananas.

If you're unsure how to incorporate avocado into your family's diet, try one of these easy recipes from the California Avocado Commission:

Avocado wrap-up

The perfect low-fat snack for pregnant moms

2 teaspoons ripe avocado, mashed

1 fajita-size, fat-free flour tortilla

1 slice of deli turkey, heated until steaming

1 thin slice of low-fat pasteurized cheese

1/2 teaspoon jarred barbecue sauce

1/4 cup carrots, peeled and coarsely shredded

Spread mashed avocado on tortilla to within 1 inch of the edge. Place turkey and cheese slices over mashed avocado, and top with barbecue sauce and carrots. Roll the tortilla up tightly. Place the roll seam side down on a plate and slice in half or in quarters.

Sweet avocado puree

A green treat your baby will love

1 part jarred peaches for babies

1 part plain yogurt

1 part ripe avocado puree

Spoon desired amount of peaches and yogurt into a small bowl. Top with desired amount of avocado and serve.

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