Vitamin C is one of the most well-known vitamins and we all know that it is critical for health. The vitamin is a powerful antioxidant, increases our ability to absorb iron, and has a host of other advantages too. Getting enough vitamin C isn’t difficult either, as there are so many vitamin C rich foods to choose from.
And, to make things even easier, vitamin C foods tend to be vegetarian and vegan friendly. This means that you can get enough vitamin C regardless of the type of diet that you follow.
Most people do get enough vitamin C. When severe, vitamin C deficiency leads to symptoms like bone damage and bleeding gums. This type of deficiency is known as scurvy and it’s not seen very often.
You only need around 90 mg of vitamin C each day to avoid deficiency. This is an easy target to reach, but you need to do so regularly, as vitamin C is water soluble and your body cannot store it.
There may still be benefits to increasing your vitamin C intake. Some theories suggest that higher vitamin C intake will help you to fight off colds and the flu. The antioxidant role of vitamin C may also be significant in various ways. Plus, all the foods that are high in vitamin C have other advantages for health too.
Vitamin C Rich Foods
- Yellow Peppers
- Other Peppers
- Chili Peppers
- Jalapeno Peppers
- Red Cabbage
- Mustard Spinach
- Brussels Sprouts
- Honeydew Melon
Guavas are a slightly unusual tropical fruit that has a sweet and enjoyable flavor. Some people say that the flavor is somewhere between a pear and a strawberry, but it is the dramatic sweetness that stands out the most.
Multiple guava varieties are now grown, including pink, white, yellow, red, and lemon guavas. The flavor varies depending on the type, with some varieties being sweeter than others.
While guava isn’t as common as many other types of fruit, it is the standout choice for vitamin C. An 100 gram serving of the fruit provides you with a whopping 200% of your vitamin C intake.
Kiwis, or kiwifruit, are another type of fruit that you can turn to. They have a distinctive sweet-sour flavor, along with an unusual appearance. Despite their bright green interior, kiwis have a fuzzy brown exterior.
They can be a little difficult to eat too because of how juicy they are. Slicing a kiwi open and then eating it with a spoon is one of the easiest approaches to take.
In addition to the common green kiwi, the company Zespri has developed a gold kiwi as well. This is the result of selective breeding, not genetic modification, so there’s nothing concerning about the kiwi at all. The flesh of the gold kiwi is a yellow-gold color and the fruit is much sweeter than a regular kiwi.
Both types are vitamin C powerhouses, but golden kiwis take the prize. Golden kiwis offer around 200 mg of vitamin C per cup, while green kiwis have closer to 170 mg instead.
Blackcurrants are another interesting fruit for vitamin C. You get more than your daily intake from a half cup serving. The compounds present offer other benefits too, like helping to decrease inflammation.
Now, blackcurrants are easy enough to find in many parts of the world and you’ll see many products that rely on blackcurrants, like blackcurrant cordial and blackcurrant jam.
Blackcurrants are much rarer in the United States as the fruit was banned for many decades. While the ban has been lifted in some parts of the United States, the fruit is still much rarer than it is elsewhere. You may need to do a decent amount of hunting to find a place to buy blackcurrants or blackcurrant products.
Fruits aren’t the only source of vitamin C. They’re not even always the best choice. Some vegetables, like yellow peppers, are powerful for vitamin C too. In this case, you’re getting around 200% of your vitamin C intake from a 100 gram serving.
Peppers are useful choices for vitamin C too, as they contain less sugar than fruit. While the sugar from fruit isn’t as concerning from the sugar that you get from processed foods, too much sugar still isn’t a good thing.
Relying on a combination of fruits and vegetables for vitamin C is the best way to promote health. Besides, yellow peppers taste good and they can be used in many different ways.
Yellow might be the best bell pepper color for vitamin C, but the others aren’t too bad either. You’re still getting far above 100% of your daily vitamin C intake from green peppers and red peppers.
This gives you the chance to use multiple types of bell pepper in a meal or to choose the color that you enjoy the most. After all, they are all different, with red pepper being the sweetest choice and green pepper being the sharpest.
In addition to using peppers as ingredients, you can also take advantage of their shape. Many recipes involve stuffing peppers with a variety of ingredients and then baking them. Ground beef, tomato paste, and cheese is one style to take, while there are also versions that rely on ground chicken and cauliflower rice instead.
It’s easy to assume that vitamin C is mostly found in orange, red, and yellow fruits and vegetables, but this isn’t the case at all. Many green foods also contain decent amounts of vitamin C, starting with kale.
Did you know that you get more than 100% of your daily vitamin C intake from that standard 100 gram serving of kale? Truly, you do.
Plus, kale is often thought of as a superfood, one that is packed with all types of beneficial nutrients. It’s a powerful part of your diet anyway and the vitamin C content is one more reason to eat it regularly.
While we’re on the topic of green vegetables, broccoli is another type that you can rely on. It contains a little less vitamin C per serving than kale, but there’s no need to compare. Both vegetables have their own advantages.
You also use them in different ways. Broccoli also tends to be more robust than kale, lasts for a long time, and is easy to prepare. These are all reasons that broccoli tends to be a staple at the dinner table.
We’ve talked about bell peppers, so it shouldn’t be surprising that red chili peppers make this list too. These peppers are decent for vitamin C too, giving you more than 150% of your daily intake in that same 100 gram serving size.
Of course, chili peppers do have a strong flavor and you’re probably not using 100 grams of them at a time. That’s okay though. You don’t need to get all your daily vitamin C intake from a single source anyway.
The spiciness of chili peppers may be good for your health too. Some theories suggest that spicy foods help us in a variety of ways, such as by improving digestion, promoting weight loss, and even reducing heart disease risk.
As with chili peppers, you won’t be eating a large number of jalapenos in a serving, but you are getting the benefits of spicy food from the peppers. While jalapenos don’t contain as much vitamin C as chili peppers, the difference isn’t dramatic. You’re still getting more than 100% of your daily intake from a 100 gram serving.
This means that even using a small portion of jalapeno peppers in a meal can boost your vitamin C intake dramatically.
Parsley might be an unexpected addition to the list, but this green herb does contain surprising amounts of vitamin C. This is true regardless of whether you focus on fresh or dried parsley.
Now, parsley is used as a herb and it has a strong flavor, so you’re not normally eating much at a time. Still, don’t write parsley off just yet. The herb remains an easy way to get extra vitamin C in your diet, as you can add a little bit into many meals.
Herbs and spices all have this advantage. They’re nutrient dense, provide amazing flavor, and are easy to work with. Relying on a variety of herbs and spices when you cook can be an easy way to increase your nutrient intake, while also making delicious foods.
Thyme is another herb that acts as a highly concentrated source of vitamin C. You can easily add a little thyme to your meal or sprinkle it on top of a finished dish to raise the vitamin C content.
The appeal is easy to see, given that thyme has a delicious flavor. The herb is an easy way to make your entire meal stand out.
Oranges are one of the most well-known vitamin C choices – and they are significant, providing around 59 mg of vitamin C in a 100 gram serving. But, despite their fame, oranges aren’t as powerful as any of the items that we’ve featured thus far on the list.
You actually get more vitamin C from kale, broccoli, and peppers than you do from oranges. This means that oranges shouldn’t be your go-to vitamin C choice. Try focusing on a variety of options instead.
While we’re on the topic, be cautious with orange juice. It’s easy to turn to a glass of orange juice to top up your vitamin C intake, but orange juice is relatively low in nutrients for the sheer amount of sugar that it contains. This makes orange juice a poor choice for most situations.
If you find oranges to be too sweet, then grapefruit could be the perfect alternative. Grapefruit is also a popular choice for dieters, partly because the fruit is so low in calories.
You can always add a little sugar or another sweetener on top of the grapefruit if you find it too sour on its own. Keep an eye out for ruby grapefruits too. This type of grapefruit isn’t as sour as other types, although it does still pack a punch.
Strawberries rival oranges for vitamin C content. They’re a good source of fiber too, which is another reason for relying on them.
Try adding sliced strawberries on top of cereal or using them as a smoothie ingredient for easy ways to use the fruit regularly. And, of course, countless desserts use strawberries as an ingredient.
Red cabbage is another useful choice. This type of cabbage contains almost as much vitamin C as oranges. Red cabbage is also a good source of polyphenols and other important types of plant-based nutrients.
The vibrant red color remains once you have cooked the cabbage, so you can use it to create vibrant meals. Even just braising the cabbage with apples creates a delicious dish that is worth trying for yourself.
Fresh tomatoes are are good source of vitamin C, although they’re not as amazing as some of the other entries on this list. As an estimate, you get around a third of your daily vitamin C intake from a medium-sized tomato.
There’s a lot of wriggle room in that estimation, given that there are so many varieties of tomatoes to choose from, including full sized tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. Tomatoes aren’t even all red and different fruit colors often mean a different nutritional composition too.
Fresh tomatoes aren’t your only option either. There are many tomato products to choose from, including sundried tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato puree, and tomato juice. Tomato paste and sundried tomatoes are especially powerful, as both foods provide a concentrated source of tomato compounds.
Lemons are an easy choice for vitamin C, as we use them in so many different ways. Their tart and vibrant flavor provides an easy way to liven up dishes and create interesting meals.
This vitamin C content is one reason why lemon water is often promoted as a way to improve health, increase energy, and detox your body.
However, claims about lemon water tend to be unrealistic. The problem is that lemon water doesn’t contain much lemon juice at all, certainly not enough to dramatically increase your vitamin C levels.
Lemons are best seen as an easy way to flavor water. So, while lemon water is healthier than many sodas and other sugary drinks, you can’t rely on this drink for vitamin C.
Limes aren’t as powerful as lemons for vitamin C, but they were one of the traditional vitamin C choices used on sailing ships to prevent scurvy. Limes also have a very appealing flavor that pairs well with many meals.
One limitation is that most people use lime juice and possibly a little lime zest, rather than relying on the fruit as a whole. You still get some vitamin C by doing so, but you do lose out on fiber and some other nutrients.
Mustard spinach is an interesting leafy green that also goes by the name komatsuna. Despite the name, the plant isn’t mustard or spinach, it’s entirely different.
Like spinach and other leafy greens, mustard spinach is rich in nutrients, including iron. The vitamin C content is notable too, as mustard spinach contains more than 140% of your vitamin C intake within a 100 gram serving.
This estimation is for raw mustard spinach and the vitamin C content does decrease once the vegetable has been cooked. But, there’s still more than enough vitamin C even after cooking.
It’s also worth talking about the flavor. Mustard spinach tends to be sweeter than spinach and some other greens. This may be perfect if you plan to eat mustard spinach raw. After all, let’s face it, raw spinach does have a distinctive flavor that isn’t always very appealing.
Brussels sprouts mightn’t have the best reputation, but the vegetable is still important nutritionally. You get more than 50% of your daily vitamin C requirements in half a cup of cooked Brussels sprouts.
That’s not too bad at all.
And honestly, Brussels sprouts are pretty tasty. Most bad experiences with the vegetable can be chalked up to times when people at them as a child and the Brussels sprouts weren’t cooked well.
It’s true. When prepared badly, Brussels sprouts can be horrible. But, don’t write this vegetable off until you’ve tried them cooked and seasoned correctly.
Did you know that cauliflower is excellent for vitamin C too? A cup of chopped cauliflower provides more than 50 mg of vitamin C, not to mention all the other nutrients and antioxidants.
Cauliflower has other advantages too, such as its calorie content. The low amount of calories makes it easy to add cauliflower to your diet, even if you need to closely watch your energy intake.
Many creative recipes rely on cauliflower, which makes the vegetable even easier to use. The texture, low carb content, and mild flavor of cauliflower have made the vegetable popular among keto dieters. Many interesting keto recipes use cauliflower as an ingredient, including meals that rely on cauliflower rice, cauliflower bread, or cauliflower pizza crust.
These melons have a mixed reputation. Some people love them and find them to be a refreshing treat. But, melon and cantaloupe pieces also tend to get left behind when people eat fruit salad.
Still, the nutrients in honeydew melon are one reason to try the fruit. You’re not just getting vitamin C either. There’s vitamin K present too, along with some B vitamins.
Slicing the melon or cutting it up into chunks are easy approaches. You could also try making melon balls. These don’t take much effort at all if you have the right tool.
Give cantaloupe a try too. This orange fruit is refreshing and easy to find. It’s a common choice in fruit salads. Of course, you can eat it on its own as well.
Speaking of fruit and fruit salad, how about pineapple? Pineapples are very sweet and you can eat them as-is. They’re also common choices in tropical smoothies or fruit salads.
Interestingly, fresh and canned pineapple are very different. The canned version tends to be cloyingly sweet, while fresh pineapple has a type of sharpness to it.
The vitamin C content is different too. Fresh pineapple tends to have much more vitamin C than canned pineapple. This means that you should almost always be relying on fresh pineapple. The canned stuff simply doesn’t cut it.
Potatoes are an unexpected vitamin C choice, which makes them the perfect place to end the list. You end up with around a third of your daily vitamin C intake from a medium potato.
Just make sure that you’re eating the skin too. This skin is where you find many of the nutrients. You won’t get nearly as many benefits if you just focus on the flesh of the potato.