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What are the best sources of vitamin C?4th May 2018
We all require vitamin C to maintain good health, and luckily, it's one of the easier vitamins for us to take in through our diets. Vitamin C is found in a huge variety of fruits and vegetables, meaning even the fussiest eaters should be able to find something to their taste. Vitamin C is beneficial to us in all kinds of ways, including helping to maintain our cartilage and blood vessels. It also helps our bodies create dopamine, ATP, tyrosine and peptide hormones. One of the things vitamin C is perhaps best known for is its antioxidant properties. It actually helps reduce oxidative stress to your body, and is even thought to help lower your risk of cancer. This is a pretty impressive list of benefits for a vitamin often given less attention than many others, in the media and health articles.
Vitamin C is found in high levels in many foods, but most of us probably automatically think of oranges when we're asked to name foods known for their vitamin C content. Read on for a list of several more foods that all contain high levels of this essential nutrient, as well as some ideas for how to easily incorporate them into your everyday diet.
Red, yellow, orange and green bell peppers
Peppers are very high in vitamin C, and simply adding a few chunky slices of any bell pepper of your choosing to a tasty stir fry can go a long way towards meeting your daily intake requirements. Peppers are not only colourful, tasty and healthy, they're also incredibly versatile. Just as delicious eaten raw or cooked, bell peppers are ideal to add to all kinds of dishes. If you're making a salad, finely slice red, yellow or orange peppers to add to the rest of your vegetables. While green peppers can obviously also be eaten raw, many people find them a little bitter, so stick to using them in cooked dishes, if you're not a fan. Stir fries are great with sliced peppers, or try roasting large chunks of pepper with onions and garlic for a tasty side dish or to stir into pasta.
Kale has been hailed as a superfood for the past few years, and it's not hard to see why. As well as being packed full of a variety of minerals and nutrients, kale also delivers a healthy dose of vitamin C in every serving. While all dark green leafy vegetables are good for us, kale is one of the best, in terms of nutrients per 100 grams. Kale is extremely versatile, so you can add it to most savoury dishes in some way. Sauté it, then add it to your favourite pasta dish, roast it in the oven with a splash of olive oil for a crispy addition to any meal, or add it to stir fries. You can also boil or steam it and season it with salt and pepper, if you want to keep things simple. Kale keeps well in the fridge, meaning it's economical to buy a huge bag and use it over the course of a few days. Unlike other leafy vegetables that quickly turn brown and either dry out or turn into mush, kale is pretty resilient, so will last for a few meals.
Kiwi fruit are an excellent source of vitamin C, and offer a great way to boost your daily intake. Slice them and add them to your breakfast, serve them as part of a colourful and super healthy fruit salad, or enjoy them with a few scoops of yogurt, as a light yet tasty dessert. You can also add them to smoothies or fruit juices if you like. If you're feeling more decadent, kiwi fruit is great sliced and added to a cheesecake for added vitamin C, and a super pretty finish. It might not be the healthiest way to eat kiwi fruit, but it will ramp up the vitamin C content of your dessert!
Probably one of the most famous sources of vitamin C after oranges, tomatoes are incredibly versatile and easy to incorporate into your diet. If you're having a cooked breakfast, add a couple of tomatoes to your plate, to boost your dish's nutrient values. Grill them if you don't fancy them raw. Tomatoes are great in sandwiches with cheese salads, but either try and layer them between other ingredients or make your sandwich just before you intend to eat it, as tomatoes can make your bread go soggy, if they're particularly juicy. Tomato juice is an old favourite, but tends not to be quite as popular these days. If you do enjoy the taste, this is a great way to get one of your five a day, as well as a healthy dose of vitamin C. Tomatoes are a salad staple, so choose your favourite kind and add them to your summer meals. Sliced, whole or diced, tomatoes complete just about any salad. Different tomatoes have very different flavours, so if you don't think you're keen, try as many different varieties as possible, to find your perfect match. Beef tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, plum tomatoes and generic salad tomatoes all have very different tastes.
Tomatoes make a great base for a pasta sauce - simply soften a diced onion in a tablespoon of olive oil, then add chopped tomatoes, fresh or from a tin, herbs and seasoning of your choice and cook until thick. This kind of dish can provide your entire daily requirement of vitamin C in a single serving, if you add a few chopped peppers as well!
It might not be one of the most fashionable vegetables, but broccoli is a firm favourite of health food fanatics. As well as containing a number of other vital nutrients, broccoli is rich in vitamin C. It's also cheap, easily obtainable and versatile. Stir fry it with a bit of chopped garlic for a delicious side dish, or simply boil or steam for a simple finish. Roast it in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil for a delicious crunchy treat that will win over the most anti-broccoli diners. Use it in place of cauliflower in cauliflower cheese type dishes, or combine the two vegetables with your favourite cheese sauce, for a healthy yet decadent dinner. Tenderstem broccoli is a more refined way of serving broccoli if you're cooking something special, and is best gently steamed.
Probably the best-known source of vitamin C, oranges remain as popular as ever. Serve juicy orange segments as part of a fruit plate, or on their own as a light snack at any time of day. If you're not a fan of eating oranges, enjoy a nutritious glass of fresh orange juice instead. While it's best freshly squeezed, if you don't have access to a juicer, buying cartons of orange juice labelled "not from concentrate" is the next best thing. Fruit juice does count towards your five a day, but only ever as one portion, even if you have more than one glass of juice. Orange juice is often a great way of getting vitamin C into those people who don't like fruit or veg and struggle to hit their daily nutrient quota on a regular basis.