The first at home remedy that most people think of when they are getting sick or in the full blown
throws of a cold, is vitamin C. So, is vitamin C really so effective for fighting the common cold? Let’s take a look at the evidence, and also the top vitamin C containing foods.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that is responsible for various bodily functions, including producing collagen in the skin. Because vitamin C is so highly concentrated in immune cells, we quickly use up our supply when fighting an infection. One study showed that taking 200 mg. of vitamin C per day did not seem to reduce frequency of colds, but it did reduce duration and severity. And there’s a lot to be said for that.
Unfortunately, many people trying to benefit from vitamin C turn to orange juice, which can actually do more harm than good in fighting a cold. Juice has been extracted from its whole food form, and therefore separated from important fiber and micronutrients that are naturally occurring in the fruit. Juice is high in sugar, and colds can be worsened by consuming sugar. So, before you reach for that big glass of orange juice, think again. At the very least, opt for fresh squeezed juice instead of the boxed, from-concentrate version.
Now, let’s look at the best foods to meet your vitamin C needs:
Not only is this exotic fruit delicious, but papaya is actually the food highest in vitamin C, providing 224% of the RDA (recommended daily value). It also offers an impressive array of key antioxidants such as flavonoids and carotenes, which help to protect against free radical damage. Papaya is also widely used to support digestion due to its high papain content, which is a digestive enzyme.
Bell peppers provide 157% of the RDA for vitamin C (more than twice the amount of an orange), and can be used in cooking or simply eaten raw as a crunchy, satisfying snack. Bell peppers are also an excellent source of vitamin E and the mineral manganese, which are both important antioxidants.
This diverse veggie offers 135% of the RDA for vitamin C, but you’re also getting a whopping 245% of the RDA for vitamin K, a crucial nutrient for blood clotting and calcium absorption. Broccoli is also an important food to include in the diet for fighting inflammation and for optimal detoxification.
With 129% of the RDA for vitamin C, brussels sprouts can be a sweet or savory side dish to a healthy protein like wild caught fish, organic chicken, or grass fed beef. Roasting them in the oven with a bit of organic butter or coconut oil, salt and pepper leaves them just perfect. Aside from the taste, brussels sprouts also offer tremendous detox support due to their high concentration of glucosinolates.
Surprised that oranges haven’t even made the list yet? While not often thought of as high in vitamin C, strawberries offer 113% of the RDA. You probably don’t need to be reminded how to enjoy strawberries (as it’s hard not to), and now you can be sure that you are doing you body a serious favor by including these sweet treats. Strawberries are also known for their cardiovascular and blood sugar regulating benefits.
At 105% of the RDA for vitamin C, pineapple is a great immune-boosting fruit to include in the diet (especially if you live in a tropical climate). Pineapples are perhaps best known for their high content of the digestive enzyme, bromelain, making them a great digestive aide. They are also high in the mineral manganese, which is important for energy production.
At #6 on the list, oranges offer 93% of the RDA for vitamin C, and are better consumed whole than in juice form. Oranges are also high in phytonutrients, some that have particularly been studied for their ability to lower blood pressure and regulate blood cholesterol levels. So, while the myth has now been busted that oranges are the best foods for vitamin C, they’re still pretty good.
This small but mighty fruit packs a big punch for its size at 85% of the RDA for vitamin C. Interestingly, kiwi is known to protect DNA via its high phytonutrient content, and support respiratory conditions in children, such as wheezing and shortness of breath.
This mild and mouth watering fruit offers 78% of the RDA for vitamin C. Even though cantaloupe has less overall nutrient content per calorie than some other fruits, it is usually eaten in large quantities. Similarly to several of the other fruits in this list, cantaloupe is high in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, and might improve insulin resistance in diabetics (although more studies are needed to confirm this speculation).
Cruciferous vegetables are well known for their powerful detoxification properties, and cauliflower tops the list. It offers 73% of the RDA for vitamin C, along with being high in critical nutrients vitamin K, folate and choline. This versatile vegetable also supports the cardiovascular system.
By including these vitamin C rich foods in your regular diet, you can ensure that you are doing your absolute best to strengthen your immune system, not to mention fight free radical damage and detoxification. Remember, instead of reaching for that go-to glass of orange juice, enjoy a veggie stir-fry with broccoli, brussels sprouts and cauliflower, and start your day with organic eggs and a side of the fruits listed above. For an extra added super immune booster, try a big plate of raw oysters, which are impressively high in zinc.