When the subject of “ foods high in Vitamin C ” comes up, it’s likely that the first thing that pops into your head is oranges or citrus fruits in general, am I right?
But did you know that oranges are not the kings of Vitamin C? In fact, the food that tops the list has 60 times the amount of Vitamin C that oranges have per gram. And the truth is that many foods high in Vitamin C actually have far more of it than oranges.
The reason we tend to think of oranges when we think of Vitamin C has to do with the history of the vitamin itself and how it was discovered. Many authorities over the years noticed that men who spent long periods of time at sea with no access to fruits or vegetables tended to become sick with scurvy which at the time was quite lethal. Certain foods were found to prevent scurvy, though no one knew why.
One famous experiment in 1747 gave sailors 2 oranges and 1 lemon per day in extra rations, which prevented them from getting scurvy. Fifty years later it was British Navy law that rations for men at sea included limes to prevent scurvy due to the easy access to limes over lemons or oranges. For this historical reason we tend to only think of citrus fruits when we think of foods that contain high levels of vitamin C.
Top of the list of foods high in Vitamin C is actually the wild potato with 60 times as much Vitamin C as oranges by weight. Also making the top ten list include rose hip, Indian gooseberry, green chili pepper, and guava (which still has 4 times the Vitamin C of oranges!). Red peppers, broccoli, kiwi, lychee, elderberry, parsley, papaya and even strawberries all are more Vitamin C dense than oranges.
Oranges are still good sources, and so are lemons, limes, garlic, melon, spinach, lettuce, grapefruit and raspberries.
Be careful when cooking foods high in Vitamin C as sometimes this can inactivate the Vitamin. Eating the fruits and veggies raw is a good way to ensure proper absorption.
Preventing scurvy is one aspect of the importance of Vitamin C, but another one is that it facilitates normal collagen production which helps keep our skin young and healthy. Vitamin C also aids the immune system, though it’s a hot debate as to how much is ideal.
Linus Pauling is famous for his theory that an extremely high Vitamin C doseage is appropriate for stimulating the immune system, while most scientists dismiss this due to Vitamin C’s water solubility which causes excess to be flushed out of the system.
Regardless, many people take Vitamin C supplements and eat Vitamin C foods when sick and swear by them as a natural treatment for colds and other illnesses.
For all of these reasons and more it’s necessary to get enough Vitamin C in your diet by eating many foods high in Vitamin C. The real food is always preferable to getting your vitamins from supplements, so try to keep your reliance on vitamin supplements to a minimum and stick to Vitamin C foods.