Found in food sources such as citrus fruit, red pepper and guava, vitamin C is a nutrient that is essential for wellness and healing. Studies show that if you make vitamin C foods a regular part of your diet, you may be at lower risk for heart disease and cataracts.
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It’s no secret that vitamin C intake can do wonderful things for your health.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that does battle with free radicals. You’ll find it in a cruciferous veggie such as broccoli, and it’s present in a leafy green such as bok choy. The list of foods high in vitamin C also includes tropical fruit such as papaya.
This water-soluble vitamin is used by the body during the healing process, and it benefits wellness in many other ways. No doubt about it — vitamin C foods are an essential part of a healthy diet.
Let’s take a closer look at the nutritious vitamin C foods that can help keep your body functioning at its best.
In this article, we will:
- Explain what vitamin C foods are, and talk about how they support the body
- Discuss why vitamin C foods might be better for your health than a vitamin C supplement
- Explain the key benefits of foods high in vitamin C
- List 73 vitamin C foods that can upgrade your health
What are vitamin C foods?
A vitamin C food is one with high vitamin C content.
Within the plant kingdom, there are lots of foods high in vitamin C. The list includes everything from a fresh fruit such as a cantaloupe to a vegetable such as a Brussels sprout. Kiwi fruit, bell pepper and chili pepper are all vitamin C foods.
One good thing about vitamin C-rich foods in that they tend to be high in dietary fiber. Fiber supports bowel health, and it’s been shown to help lower cholesterol levels.
If you’d rather drink your vitamin C, tomato juice or a fruit juice such as orange juice will serve you well.
What is vitamin C?
So, what is vitamin C, and why is it important?
Vitamin C is a nutrient that’s also known as ascorbic acid. It plays a key role in the way your body functions. Our bodies need vitamin C to form cartilage, blood vessels and muscle. We also need this nutrient to produce collagen in our bones.
A powerful antioxidant
Notably, vitamin C is an antioxidant. So, what is an antioxidant, and how does it benefit your health?
An antioxidant is a compound that your body makes, and it’s also found in certain types of food. Antioxidants benefit your health by virtue of their relationship with free radicals.
Free radicals are compounds that are constantly being created by your body. When they’re kept in check, they can support your health, but they can cause serious health problems if their levels in your body get too high. If free radical levels are allowed to skyrocket in your body, it creates a state known as oxidative stress. Remaining in this state puts you at greater risk for chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Antioxidants act as the body’s defense against excessive free radicals. They work to ensure that the free radicals in your body stay within a healthy range. In addition to vitamin C, the list of antioxidants includes vitamin E, vitamin B12, vitamin B6 and vitamin K.
Vitamin C isn’t just some ordinary antioxidant; it’s one of the most potent antioxidants in existence. Because of this, it’s an excellent ally in fighting free radicals, and it can work in a very effective way to support your health.
Unfortunately, our bodies aren’t capable of making vitamin C. That means that to get this nutrient, we have to rely on foods high in vitamin C or a vitamin C supplement.
Vitamin C deficiency
Most of us get enough dietary vitamin C to prevent true deficiency. However, vitamin C deficiency has been observed in smokers and those with gastrointestinal conditions and certain types of cancer.
If vitamin C deficiency is severe, it can cause a disease known as scurvy. Scurvy can cause bleeding gums, bruising and anemia.
Vitamin C foods vs. dietary supplements
As we’ve mentioned, there are two ways of upping your vitamin C intake. One way is to eat more vitamin C foods. Another is to take a vitamin C supplement.
Both approaches have value. But research shows that vitamin C foods seem to do a better job of reducing oxidative damage than a dietary supplement that contains this nutrient.
A 2007 study compared results between participants who got their vitamin C from orange juice and those who got it from a dietary supplement. The data showed that those who drank the orange juice received better protection against oxidative damage.
That suggests that if you’re seeking to up your vitamin C intake, you’ll get the best results by enriching your diet with whole foods that are loaded with this valuable nutrient.
Key benefits of vitamin C foods
Vitamin C foods provide these vital benefits:
1. May prevent cancer
Cancer is a major public health challenge here in the U.S. According to the National Cancer Institute, this disease is responsible for roughly 600,000 deaths each year. What’s more, the costs of treating this ailment come in at around $150 billion annually.
Higher consumption of vitamin C foods such as fruits and vegetables has been linked with a lower risk for most types of cancer. Studies show that the vitamin C found in whole foods can limit the formation of carcinogens. And, via its antioxidant function, this vitamin can also mitigate the oxidative damage that can set the stage for cancer growth.
2. May prevent heart disease
Heart disease is, unfortunately, quite common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. In this country, heart disease is responsible for about 655,000 fatalities each year.
Research shows that those who eat lots of foods high in vitamin C may have a lower risk of developing heart disease. Heart disease is linked with oxidative wear and tear; the antioxidants present in vitamin C food sources work hard to prevent this type of damage.
3. May reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration
Among older people, cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are common causes of vision loss. Researchers believe these ailments are linked with oxidative stress.
A 2005 study shows that those who consume generous amounts of vitamin C foods may have a reduced risk of developing AMD. And a high dietary intake from vitamin C food sources has been linked with reduced risk of cataracts.
4. May benefit the common cold
The idea that vitamin C can help treat the common cold was first popularized by Nobel prize winner Linus Pauling in the 1970s.
Recent studies have been inconclusive as to vitamin C’s value in preventing colds. However, research indicates that this nutrient may be helpful in reducing the severity and duration of a cold once it hits.
In one analysis, vitamin C intake was shown to reduce the duration of a cold by 8 percent in adults and up to 18 percent in children.
Vitamin C foods
Looking for foods high in vitamin C? Here are 73 excellent choices. With each listing, we’ve included the food’s vitamin C content:
Plant-based (more than 100 mg of vitamin C)
- Acerola cherries – 1,644 mg in 1 cup
- Rose hips – 541 mg in 1 cup
- Guavas – 368 mg in 1 cup
- Yellow peppers – 341 mg in 1 large pepper
- Red bell pepper – 241 mg in 1 cup
- Dried jujube – 218 mg in 100 grams
- Black currants – 203 mg in 1 cup
- Mustard spinach – 195 mg in 1 cup
- Kiwi – 167 mg in 1 cup
- Lychees – 136 mg in 1 cup
- Orange juice – 124 mg in 1 cup
- Taro – 120 mg in 1 cup of slices
- Green bell peppers – 120 mg in 1 cup
- Lemons – 112 mg in 1 cup
- Green chili peppers – 109 mg in 1 pepper
- Citrus green tea – 104 mg in 1 cup
- Banana peppers – 102 mg in 1 cup
- Vinespinach – 102 mg in 100 grams
- Broccoli – 101 mg in 1 cup
Plant-based (50-100 mg of vitamin C)
- Strawberries – 98 mg in 1 cup
- Oranges – 97 mg in 1 cup
- Brussels sprouts – 98 mg in 1 cup
- Sugar apples – 91 mg in 1 cup
- Kohlrabi – 89 mg in 1 cup
- Papaya – 88 mg in 1 cup
- Grapefruit – 88 mg in 1 cup
- Parsley – 80 mg in 1 cup
- Pineapple – 79 mg in 1 cup
- Bitter melon – 78 mg in 1 cup
- Snow peas – 77 mg in 1 cup
- Tangerine juice – 77 mg in 1 cup
- Lime juice – 73 mg in 1 cup
- Kidney bean sprouts – 71 mg in 1 cup
- Jujube – 69 mg in 100 grams
- Green cauliflower (broccoflower) – 65 mg in ⅕ head
- Cantaloupe – 65 mg in 1 cup
- Red chili peppers – 65 mg in 1 pepper
- Breadfruit – 64 mg in 1 cup
- Mangos – 60 mg in 1 cup
- Peas – 58 mg in 1 cup
- Carissa – 57 mg in 1 cup
- Cabbage – 56 mg in 1 cup
- Cauliflower – 55 mg in 1 cup
- Tomatoes – 55 mg in 1 cup
- Grapefruit juice – 53 mg in 8 fl oz
- Elderberries – 52 mg in 1 cup
- Tangerines – 52 mg in 1 cup
- Mulberries – 51 mg in 1 cup
Plant-based (less than 50 mg of vitamin C)
- Durian – 48 mg in 1 cup
- Serrano peppers – 47 mg in 1 cup
- Soursop – 46 mg in 1 cup
- Red and white currants – 46 mg in 1 cup
- Bok choy – 44 mg in 1 cup
- Cassava – 42 mg in 1 cup
- Sweet potatoes – 42 mg in 1 cup
- Gooseberries – 42 mg in 1 cup
- Mamey sapote – 40.3 mg in 1 cup
- Avocado – 40 mg in 1 cup
- Turnip greens – 40 mg in 1 cup
- Starfruit – 37 mg in 1 cup
- Lotus root – 36 mg in 10 slices
- Rutabagas – 35 mg in 1 cup
- Garden cress – 34 mg in 1 cup
- Raspberries – 32 mg in 1 cup
Animal-based vitamin C foods
- Kielbasa sausage – 60 mg in 1 link
- Clams – 19 mg in 3 oz
- Eastern oysters (canned) – 14 mg in 1 can
- Blue mussels – 12 mg in 3 oz
- Alaskan king crab – 10 mg in 1 leg
- Cuttlefish – 7 mg in 3 oz
- Octopus – 7 mg in 3 oz
- Northern pike – 6 mg in 6 oz fillet
- Salmon – 6 mg in 6 oz fillet
Now that you know all about the top vitamin C foods, add them to your shopping cart the next time you’re at the grocery store.
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