When you’re feeling run-down or think you’re on the brink of a cold, your first instinct might be to guzzle a glass of orange juice with breakfast, or add an orange to your afternoon snack to ramp up your vitamin C intake because you’ve been told that this vitamin may boost your immune system.
If you’re eating a balanced diet, and/or taking a multivitamin, and haven’t been spending your days sailing the high seas with Blackbeard, it’s unlikely you have scurvy, at least according to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Recommended Dietary Allowance of vitamin C is 90 mg/day for men and 75mg/day for women (that’s about 1 cup of strawberries); a deficiency is considered getting less than 10mg/day for several weeks.
While oranges are a fine source of vitamin C — one navel orange contains 59 mg — you may find citrus too acidic, want some variety, or oranges aren’t in season. In these cases, here are some vitamin C-rich foods that aren’t oranges.
Red and Yellow Bell Peppers
These red and yellow-hued vegetables are packed with vitamin C. One large sweet red bell pepper contains 209 mg of vitamin C, and one large yellow bell pepper has 341 mg of vitamin C. Slice them up raw and enjoy them as a snack with hummus, salsa, or black bean dip. You can also sauté sliced peppers and add them to stir-fries, omelets, and pasta dishes, or fill ’em with lean ground beef or turkey and create stuffed peppers.
This “furry” tropical fruit also known as the Chinese gooseberry is an excellent source of vitamin C — just one small fruit contains 64 mg! While the fuzzy skin is edible (and fiber-licious) we realize this isn’t a common way to eat them. If you’re not keen on eating the skin, peel it or use a spoon to scoop out the fruit, then chop it up and enjoy. You can also try kiwis in a yogurt parfait or use these tart treats from New Zealand to top off a Green Smoothie Bowl.
Dark leafy greens like kale are a stellar source of vitamin C. Two cups of kale contains about 40 mg. Sneak kale leaves into fruit smoothies, or add them to pasta dishes at dinner for additional fiber. For a super C recipe, try this one that uses kale, broccoli, and hazelnuts to create a crunchy salad.
When you bite into a juicy, ripe strawberry it’s a sign summer has arrived. But, you’re doing more than just tantalizing your taste buds since one cup of strawberries contains about 97 mg of vitamin C. Enjoy them whole or wash and slice strawberries and perk up your sad desk lunches with this Spinach Salad with Strawberries and Walnuts recipe.
Those days of feeding broccoli to Fido under your parents’ dinner table are long gone. So are the days of boiling vegetables until they’re limp and lack in nutrients. It’s high time to get reacquainted with these mini trees. One cup of raw broccoli contains about 81 mg of vitamin C and is high in fiber, low in calories, and contains a few grams of protein. You can sauté it and use it as a side dish with garlic and lemon, add it to stir-fry recipes, or work it into macaroni and cheese like Autumn Calabrese.