Women consuming large amounts of folate have a sharply lower risk of developing high blood pressure, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

About 150,000 women in two age groups with no history of hypertension recorded their folate intake over eight years. Women aged 27 to 44 consuming at least 1,000 micrograms of folate daily - or two and a half times the recommended amount - were 46% less likely to develop hypertension than those consuming less than 200mcg. Effects were less pronounced among women ages 43-70. Those getting folate from food alone without supplements, had difficulty consuming enough to show significant benefit.

Found in oranges, dark green leafy vegetables, beans and legumes, folate helps prevent certain birth defects, and its synthetic form, folic acid, has been used to fortify all grain foods in the US since 1998.