You get it. Vitamin C is good for you. Diets rich in vitamin C have been associated with everything from improved wound healing to reduced risk of cancer. Then there are the immune-boosting properties we’ve heard about for ages (1).
But if you don’t like oranges or your stomach can’t tolerate citrus, then you’re out of luck. Right?
Not so fast.
When it comes to vitamin C, citrus is only half of the equation, says Becky Kerkenbush, a clinical dietitian at the Watertown Regional Medical Center in Watertown, Wisconsin.
There are plenty of other natural sources of vitamin C out there to help you reach the recommended allowance of 75 milligrams for adult women (2). “You don’t have to rely just on citrus,” Kerkenbush says.
Move over OJ. Here are five of Kerkenbush’s favorite natural sources of vitamin C, plus tips on how to shop for and cook each one.
60 mg of vitamin C in ½ cup steamed broccoli
Packing in almost as much vitamin C as an orange, broccoli also provides vitamin K, folate, fiber, vitamin A and B vitamins, Kerkenbush says.
While perusing the produce section, Kerkenbush recommends looking for broccoli that has a firm stem and a crown that’s tight and springy, not limp. It should keep for a week in your crisper drawer, she says.
Serve it raw or roasted. You can also enjoy it in a stir-fry, steamed or boiled.
Just don’t overcook it, Kerkenbush warns. It reduces the health benefits. “If you boil it to the point where the water turns green, that’s the nutrients leaking out,” she says.
1 cup chopped green pepper provides 120 mg of vitamin C
Peppers provide your daily dose of vitamin C (and then some!), as well as vitamin A and fiber.
Look for peppers that are firm and free of blemishes or bruises, Kerkenbush says. Store unwashed peppers in a plastic bag for four to five days in your veggie drawer. Add liberally to salads or sautés, or stuff them with cooked quinoa, black beans, corn, garlic powder, cumin powder, chili powder and salsa. Bake and top with lime juice, avocado, nonfat Greek yogurt (in place of sour cream) or cilantro.
55 mg of vitamin C in 1 cup cooked cauliflower
Like broccoli, you want to look for cauliflower that’s firm to the touch, Kerkenbush says. Also keep an eye out for yellow or green spots—these are a sign the plant is immature, which means it won’t taste as good, she says.
You can roast it, steam it or microwave it, Kerkenbush suggests. Or, if you’d like, you can use mashed cauliflower as a replacement for traditional pizza crust. This ups the pie’s vitamin C and fiber count while lowering its calorie count, she says. Cauliflower is also a good source of folate and vitamin B6.
1 large baked potato with skin provides 29 mg of vitamin C
Potatoes are another vegetable that can be mashed, roasted, steamed or zapped in the microwave. While potatoes provide a lot of vitamin C, thiamin, folate, niacin, magnesium, potassium and fiber, you want to go easy on the toppings to avoid overloading your spud with extra fat and calories.
Nonfat Greek yogurt is a great replacement for sour cream, Kerkenbush says. She also likes to use salsa instead of margarine or butter. “Picking a smaller potato will help you from overdoing the toppings,” she adds.
Look for potatoes that are firm to the touch, Kerkenbush recommends. Store in a cool, dry and dark location to maximize their shelf life. (Hot tip: Don’t store potatoes near onions. Kerkenbush says both ingredients emit a natural gas that will cause the other to spoil faster.)
1 medium kiwi fruit contains about 70 mg vitamin C
These teeny fruits pack almost all your recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. They also contain vitamin K, folate and fiber.
“You can eat it right out of its shell or slice it up and put it on salads,” Kerkenbush says. “Just don’t eat the skin.”
When kiwi shopping, look for fruits that are brown and fuzzy with no dark spots, mold or wrinkles. “If it’s too wrinkly, it will be overripe and not taste as sweet,” Kerkenbush says.
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