Over the years, the orange has become the “poster child” for vitamin C… but it’s not the only fruit that’s packed with this essential vitamin.
In fact, many other fruits and vegetables are packed with high levels — but what makes this vitamin so important in the first place?
Aside from being an incredible antioxidant and aiding in iron absorption, vitamin C is critical for collagen synthesis in the body.
Collagen is a protein that’s found in the connective tissue of all of the body’s organs and bones. This includes the skin – where it works to promote firmness and elasticity to prevent wrinkles. Is it any wonder why collagen plays such an important role in anti-aging treatments?
One of the best ways to promote more collagen in your body is to get an adequate intake of the nutrient every day. (To do so, you should definitely eat more than just oranges!)
You see, vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin (as opposed to a fat-soluble vitamin), which means it dissolves and is carried to the tissues very quickly. However, because the body cannot store it, it’s important that we get a daily dose from our diet.
Let’s first take a look at the orange. One cup of orange segments contains about 95.8 mg of vitamin C, or 160% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) – which is rather impressive.
Now let’s take a look at eight potent foods:
Vitamin C-Rich Foods!
Red hot chili peppers pack a fiery punch to the tastebuds, but who knew that they were also loaded with vitamin C?
A member of the nightshade family, and related to both tomatoes and bell peppers, chili peppers are usually sought after for their capsaicin – their heat. But behind that bite, chili peppers contain 216 milligrams of vitamin C per cup — and 360 percent of the recommended daily intake!
European black currants
This small, black berry is — quite literally — a superfood. In addition to being loaded with antioxidants, it has nine times the calcium, five times the iron, four times the magnesium, five times the phosphorous, and four times the potassium of blueberries. 1 When compared to an orange, the European black currant has more than double the amount of vitamin C – clocking in at 203 mg of vitamin C per cup (338 percent of the RDI).
Otherwise known as the Chinese gooseberry, the kiwifruit is an egg-sized fruit covered in a furry skin. The bright green flesh, speckled with tiny black seeds, makes it a beautiful-looking fruit with a unique sweet flavor. At 164 mg of vitamin C per cup (273 percent of the RDI), it also towers over the orange. Cut your kiwifruit in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon to make an easy snack!
This Chinese native is considered a unique fruit, especially as it’s the only member of its entire genus. Once considered a great delicacy of the Imperial Court, the lychee is loved for its sweet, juicy fruit that is often used in fancy cocktails and desserts. Behind all that decadence, however, the lychee packs an impressive 136 mg of vitamin C per cup (or 226 of the RDI).
The timid cousin of the chili pepper, the bell pepper may not be spicy, but it still retains a family trait: a high vitamin C content. This nutritious vegetable is easy to add to any meal to boost nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin B6, magnesium, and of course, vitamin C. One cup of sliced bell peppers contains around 120 mg of vitamin C, or 200 percent of your RDI. (You can also add a pop of color to your meal by choosing between yellow, green, and red bell peppers!)
Another wonderfully healthy, low-calorie vegetable, broccoli is rich in vitamin A, calcium, vitamin B6, iron, and magnesium. Steam it to retain essential nutrients, and pair it with bell peppers for an even greater dose of vitamin C – broccoli contains 101 mg of vitamin C per cup of cooked florets (168 of the RDI).
Fresh, tart lemons are a great way to kick-start your digestive system in the morning — just add a few slices to a glass of warm water. Lemons also make a great toner for the skin, as they are a natural astringent, which helps to contract the pores. Simply apply a few drops of lemon juice onto a cotton round and dab it against your face. Leave the juice on for about 10 minutes, and then rinse with cool water. One cup of lemon segments contains 112 mg of vitamin C (187 of the RDI).
Brussels sprouts are a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, along with broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. One cup of brussels sprouts packs 4 grams of dietary fiber — not to mention 96.8 milligrams of vitamin C (or 162 of the RDI). Cruciferous vegetables are also renowned for containing glucosinolates — sulfur-containing chemicals which may help to potentially reduce the growth of abnormal cells.2
Fruits and Veggies
When it comes to skin aging, the benefit of vitamin C intake is simple: More vitamin c equals better collagen synthesis. Antioxidants like vitamin C also help ward off free radicals, the toxic byproducts of oxygen metabolism that lead to premature aging.
So the next time you’re looking to add more of this collagen-boosting nutrient to your diet, don’t just look to fruits! Though there are some great sources of vitamin C in the fruit world, there are also plenty of healthy, green vegetables. Plus, vegetables have the added bonus of being lower in sugar and calories — win-win!