Vitamin C is an important nutrient that boosts the immune system, helps the body digest iron, and helps fight cancer.
Vitamin C boosts the immune system by increasing the production of white blood cells and antibodies, most specifically interferon, the antibody that coats cells and acts as a protective shield against viruses.
Vitamin C is also a very powerful antioxidant that cleans free radicals out of the body. Free radicals contribute to aging and cellular mutations such as cancer.
The health benefits of vitamin C go further. It also helps to raise the levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL) in the blood stream, which reduce cholesterol. It also helps the body digest iron acquired from both foods an supplements.
Now that we know why we should be taking vitamin C, we need to ask how we should be taking it.
It is a common myth that ‘megadosing’ with vitamin C supplements is good for you. There are, however, no scientific studies that prove this to be true. It has been proven however, that overdoing on vitamin C can cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, stomach cramps, insomnia, and even kidney stones. The Mayo Clinic recommends that a normal adult should try to get all of their daily vitamin C from dietary sources and not more than 2000 milligrams per day.
So, which foods are highest in Vitamin C? Surprisingly, not oranges. There are, in fact, many fruits and vegetables that are better sources of Vitamin C than citrus. Here are 5:
Guava contains 376 mg Vitamin C per cup, which is the approximate amount used in most freshly made guava drinks and smoothies. Guava is also a good source of calcium, vitamins A & B, niacin, and fiber, and has only 84 calories per cup.
Red Bell Peppers
Red Bell Peppers have 148 mg of Vitamin C for 1 regular sized pepper. They are also good sources of vitamins A, B6, and, as well as fiber, with only 35 calories per average pepper.
Parsley, the most commonly used herb in the world, contains 133 mg of Vitamin C in every 3.5 ounces. It is also an excellent source of vitamin K, and a good source of vitamin A, folate, and iron, with only 1 calorie per tablespoon!
Kiwi has 128 mg of Vitamin C for 2 average fruits, the typical serving size. They are a good source of fiber, potassium, copper, magnesium, vitamin E, and manganese, at 46 calories per average fruit.
Strawberries have 84 mg Vitamin C in every cup of whole berries. They are also a good source of folate, manganese, potassium, and fiber, at only 49 calories per cup.
There are many easy ways to get these foods into your diet. Strawberries, eaten alone, are a snack most kids won’t pass up. Likewise, kiwi-strawberry smoothies are easy to make, and hard to pass up. Red bell peppers can be sliced thin and tossed into salads, along with fresh parsley, or chopped by the cup-full and added to soups and stews. A ripe, chilled guava makes a great summertime snack, or can be put into chutney or salsa as to add flare to any meat.
Other foods that are high in vitamin C are potatoes, papaya, peaches, pineapple, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and, of course, oranges and other citrus fruits.
Here are two recipes to help you get started:
Red Bell Potato Soup
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 lbs skinned and cubed potatoes
1 cup fine chopped white or yellow onion
3 cups chopped red bell pepper
4 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste if desired)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
In 6 quart pot with lid(or larger), heat pot on medium, then add olive oil, onions, and red bell peppers. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are clear. Add broth and then stir in flour. Combine well by whisking and/or pressing with spoon to remove any lumps. Add potatoes, parsley, black pepper, and salt, then fill the rest of the way with water until contents are just covered.
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover and reduce temperature to medium-low. Stirring occasionally, cook for 45 minutes or until potatoes are soft and come apart easily when pressed with spoon. Feeds 8
1 cup frozen chunks guava
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 cup cold milk or coconut milk
Place ingredients in blender. Use ice crush setting to puree. Serve in glass over frozen peach slices. Serves 2
World’s Healthiest Foods: http://www.whfoods.com
United States Department of Agriculture: http://www.usda.gov
Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com