If you’ve got vitamin C on your mind, vegetables can be a good way to get the nutrient in too. While you can find plenty of the nutrient in citrus fruits like oranges, don’t discount how much vegetables have to offer! Here’s a look at some of the best sources of this nutrient – you’ll find most of them are familiar and readily available in markets the world over.
Antioxidant Vitamin C Plays Role In Growth And Repair Of Tissues
Vitamin C is one of those all-important nutrients your body needs on a daily basis. And it is one that the body can’t produce on its own, which is why you need to make sure you get in the recommended amounts of the nutrient every day. Your system needs it to help maintain healthy skin, bones, ligaments, blood vessels, cartilage, and teeth. It also aids scar tissue formation and wound healing. In addition, this antioxidant vitamins may have a role to play in warding off all kinds of infections like heart disease, arthritis, and even cancer.1 It is also fairly clear that not having enough vitamin C shouldn’t be an option. If you don’t get enough, you could wind up with all manner of ailments and complaints, from anemia to dry brittle hair.2
Adults Need 75–90 Mg Of Vitamin C
Health authorities suggest that men aged 19 and over get at least 90 mg of vitamin C in their diets every day, while women need to gun for 75 mg a day. If you are pregnant, raise that level to 85 mg and further to 120 mg when you are nursing your baby.3 If, however, you have any health condition that might require you to consume more, your doctor may suggest intake at higher levels. For instance, someone recovering from surgery might need more to aid healing. Or if you’ve experienced bad burns, the additional vitamin C could help your skin. Smokers too could do with more to counter the effects of the smoke they’re inhaling, with the antioxidant effects of the vitamin.4
When it comes to food, the daily value or DV is an indicator of nutrient-richness. And for vitamin C that means getting in foods that have 90 mg or 20% DV or higher of the nutrient.5 What follows is a convenient list of some of the best vegetable sources of vitamin C.
1. Green Chili
1 raw green hot chili:109.1 mg of vitamin C (121.2% DV)
Kicking off the list of vitamin C rich vegetables is a vegetable that truly does pack in a punch. Spice isn’t for everyone, but if you can take a little heat, you stand to gain plenty in the vitamin C department. Having as little as one raw green hot chili can give you 109.1 mg or 121.2% DV of vitamin C.6 A cup of canned green chili peppers has 47.5 mg of vitamin C, which is 52.8% DV.7 While you could use them sparingly in various recipes from Asia, Mexico, and parts of the world where spice and heat are synonymous with local cuisines, you may also brave adding some to your juices for a tingling aftertaste. Or go all out with recipes like Bhutan’s green chili and cheese stew ema datshi. The creaminess and mildness of the cheese cut the heat of the chili, leaving you with a pleasantly warming flavor.
2. Brussels Sprouts
1 cup of Brussels sprouts: 96.8 mg of vitamin C (107.6% DV)
Glamourous vegetable it is not (though it could well be!). But this classic Brassica vegetable is so full of vitamin C, it is well worth considering. A cup of Brussels sprouts has 96.8 mg or 107.6% DV of vitamin C.8 What might also surprise you is how delicious it can be – if you let it! For instance, instead of simply boiled them, try roasting them to a light char in the oven. Even the pickiest eater will find it hard to resist fried Brussels sprouts served with a tangy dressing and perhaps a hint of some spices. A pasta recipe too can work well with the leaves of the Brussels sprouts separated and added to it along with some seafood and perhaps a lemony sauce.
1 cup of broccoli: 101.2 mg of vitamin C (112.4% DV)
Brassica vegetable broccoli breaches the 100 mg barrier on its vitamin C content – a cup of it has 101.2 mg or 112.4% DV.9 You could stick to steaming or roasting your broccoli or experiment with making broccoli kebabs or even a healthy Buddha bowl. For when you need a comforting – if a little decadent – meal, cheesy baked broccoli hits the spot. A simple salad with broccoli at its heart can also be taken to the next level if you use the right spices and accompaniments. How does a broccoli and bacon salad with onions, cranberries, almonds, and a tangy hit from apple cider vinegar sound? Asian recipes use broccoli well too – whether it is as a side for a subtle hoisin flavored salmon meal or in a hearty beef, sesame, and soy sauce stir-fry.
1 cup of kohlrabi: 89.1 mg of vitamin C (99% DV)
Kohlrabi might not be winning any pageants anytime soon, but the odd-looking bulbs are actually quite tasty. Use them raw as you would turnip or radishes, or cook them into a creamy soup. Shred them and fashion them into crunchy fritters with egg and breadcrumbs, or steam them for using in pasta or a stir-fry. If you aren’t up to that much effort, just toss them in the oven with some olive oil and you’ll wind up with the most beautiful caramelized side if you time it right. A cup of boiled sliced kohlrabi contains 89.1 mg of vitamin C, which is the equivalent of 99% DV.10
5. Green Peas
- 1 cup of boiled green peas: 22.7 mg of vitamin C (25.2% DV)
- 1/2 cup of raw green peas: 29 mg of vitamin C (32.2% DV)
A cup of boiled green peas has 22.7 mg of the vitamin or 25.2% DV.11 Eat them raw and you’ll get in even more. A cup of raw green peas has 58 mg of vitamin C or 64.4% DV.12 Toss these nuggets of sweetness into a salad to add some bite and texture. Steam or boil them to use alongside a meat. A green peas risotto is also oh-so-delicious. You might even be able to make them into little pan-fried savory cakes or use them to create pillows of beautiful pea ravioli.
6. Cabbage And Red Cabbage
- 1 cup of regular cabbage: 56.2 mg of vitamin C (62.4% DV)
- 1 cup of red cabbage: 51.6 mg of vitamin C (57.3% DV)
Saute your cabbage with spices or make a wonderful summer slaw by trading out heavy dressings for a lighter vinaigrette. You could even make your own version of probiotic fermented foods like Korean kimchi or German sauerkraut. If you aren’t sure what to do with red cabbage, how about cooking up a Chinese style braised red cabbage, a festive clove infused version, or red cabbage and potato hash?
1 cup of cauliflower: 55 mg of vitamin C (61.1% DV)
This cruciferous vegetable has 55 mg per cup or 61.1% DV of vitamin C.15 If cauliflower rice isn’t your kind of food, cauliflower mash could be – it’s just as delicious as a potato-based mash, maybe even more. You could also slice and roast it, or coat it with spices and grill or bake some. A stir-fry with cauliflower can be quick and easy to put together too. A Moroccan style cauliflower soup with a touch of harissa and cinnamon for heat is a comfort food on overdrive!
8. Green Leafy Vegetables
- 1 cup of turnip greens: 39.5 mg of vitamin C (43.9% DV)
- 1 cup of beet greens: 35.9 mg of vitamin C (39.9% DV)
Green leafy vegetables like turnip greens, collards,
and kale are a great way to get in vitamin C. They are also chock-full of so many other nutrients like iron and calcium and aren’t heavy on the calories. Whether you like to go the extra mile and try dehydrated kale chips or keep it simple with a quick wilted side, greens are surprisingly versatile. Even soups and smoothies take well to the addition of some greens. To give you an idea of just how much vitamin C they have, look at turnip greens – they have almost 44% DV of the nutrient to the cup. Beet greens have around 40% DV. Here’s the vitamin C content of these greens and then some.
- Turnip greens, 1 cup, boiled: 39.5 mg (43.9% DV)16
- Beet greens, 1 cup, boiled: 35.9 mg (39.9% DV)17
- Mustard greens, 1 cup, boiled: 35.4 mg (39.3% DV)18
- Collards, 1 cup, boiled: 34.6 mg (38.4% DV)19
- Kale, 1 cup, boiled: 21 mg (23.3% DV)20
- Spinach, 1 cup, boiled: 17.6 mg (19.6% DV)21
9. Sweet Potatoes
1 cup of sweet potatoes: 39.2 mg of vitamin C (44% DV)
Sweet potatoes are a smart spud choice if you’re trying to look for a way to get in vitamin C. They edge out their more widely used cousin, the potato, on the nutrient stakes, packing in nearly 44% DV or 39.2 mg of vitamin C in a cup-sized serving.22 You can use sweet potatoes in a spin on the traditional Middle Eastern hummus dip. Or char grill them with a touch of honey and vinegar. Sweet potato also tastes divine in a miso scented soup. Even a Thai inspired sweet potato curry fragrant with lemongrass, chili, and coconut milk can be amazing. Of course, familiar options like a mash or roast sweet potatoes are always a possibility.
1 baked potato: 37.7 mg of vitamin C (41.9% DV)
Potatoes too have a good amount of vitamin C. The staple white potato when eaten with its flesh and all can give you as much as 37.7 mg of vitamin C or 41.9% DV.23 Have your potatoes in a creamy mash, crunchy oven baked wedges, decadent duck fat cooked roast potatoes, or as a humble steamed or boiled potato. These mild-flavored palate pleasers are available all year round, so you’ll always be able to stock up on these no matter where you are. They can also be fashioned into potato cakes with some garlic, thyme, and paprika or grated to make the very Swiss rösti. Go Indian with sauteed turmeric potatoes with a tempering of mustard seeds or classic all-American with potato skins filled with all manner of deliciousness – cheeses, meats, bacon, greens, it is all up to you!
1 cup of raw turnip: 27.3 mg of vitamin C (30.3% DV)
Turnip is coming into its own as chefs experiment with wonderful new ways to make the most of this root vegetable. A cup of cubed raw turnips has 27.3 mg of vitamin C (30.3% DV).24 Swap out potatoes as sides to your main meals and use the boiled turnips with their greens for a nutritious flavorsome new twist. Combine turnips with other greens like kale and make a gratin with them for a recipe that everyone is sure to love! The mild pungency of turnips also works a treat with sweeter pairings like apples – why not make a refreshing slaw with them? You could also finely slice turnip to top wholegrain toast or open tartines with cheese, salmon, fish roe, or anything else you enjoy. Turnips also take well to pickling, so you could make some of those classic jars of these vegetables to use alongside any meal.
1 cup of okra: 26 mg of vitamin C (28.9% DV)
Okra can be quite an eye-opener when used in salads. Sometimes, all it takes is a light dressing and well-cut slices and you’ll find it has none of the sliminess you dread. If you prefer your okra cooked more thoroughly, there’s 26 mg of vitamin C or 28.9% DV in a cup of the cooked sliced vegetable.25 You could have okra in a Southern-style recipe – grilled, pickled, or fried! Fried okra is a little more sinful, but is also undeniably delicious. Or make a light and simple recipe of gently steamed or pan-tossed okra with Indian spices.
13. Herbs Like Parsley And Thyme
- 10 gm serving of parsley: 13.3 mg of vitamin C (15% DV)
- 10 gm serving of thyme: 16 mg of vitamin C (17.8% DV)
You stand to gain 79.8 mg of vitamin C from a cup of chopped parsley, that’s 88.7% DV. Even if you use just a little to garnish your food or lightly flavor something, you could get almost 15% DV via 13.3 mg of vitamin C from that little 10 gm serving.26 And parsley is mild enough to not interfere with flavors, yet strong enough to hold its own among other flavors. The flavor of a great parsley pesto or salsa verde or vibrant green chimichurri sauce should be good enough to entice you, but then there’s also the many Middle Eastern salads like tabbouleh that really celebrate parsley. Indian cooking uses it well as a garnish, in spicy chutneys, and as a flavoring agent.
Fresh thyme, like parsley, is a good way to get in vitamin C without noticing it. When you cook with it, like in a gravy for your roast meat, you’ll end up using around 10 gm or so and that has about 16 mg of vitamin C in it, or 17.8% DV.27 You could garnish pork chops with fresh thyme, top a caramelized onion and anchovy topped Pissaladière with some, or just fancy up your oven roasted potatoes with some sprigs of thyme.
Plus Two Vegetables That Aren’t Really Vegetables!
- 1 cup of raw red peppers: 190.3 mg of vitamin C (211.4% DV)
- 1 cup of raw green peppers: 119.8 mg of vitamin C(133.1% DV)
- 1 cup of raw tomatoes: 24.7 mg of vitamin C (27.4% DV)
There are some vitamin C rich foods which you might think are vegetables, when in fact they are actually fruits. You may have heard about tomatoes being a fruit even though we use them in savory recipes. The same goes for another group of “vegetables” – peppers.
- Red and green peppers are very rich in vitamin C, with the red ones giving you 190.3 mg (211.4% DV) from a cup of the chopped peppers and the green ones giving you 119.8 mg (133.1% DV) of vitamin C.28 29 These “fruit” find their way into largely savory recipes because of their dominant savory peppery notes and very subtle sweetness. Whether you’re grilling the peppers, stuffing them and baking them, roasting them to use in purees and dips, or incorporating them into Asian stir-fries or Italian pasta recipes, they are sure to deliver packets of flavors!
- Tomatoes are another kind of fresh produce that straddle the line between fruit and vegetable. Whether it is in soups, stews, casseroles, curries, pizza, or pasta, they are used often and plentifully. There are 24.7 mg of vitamin C or 27.4% DV of the vitamin per cup of the chopped fruit.30
|↑1, ↑2, ↑4||Vitamin C. U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑3||Vitamin C. Office of Dietary Supplements.|
|↑5||Labeling Daily Values. National Institutes Of Health.|
|↑6||Peppers, hot chili, green, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑7||Peppers, chili, green, canned. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑8||Brussels sprouts, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑9||Broccoli, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑10||Kohlrabi, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑11||Peas, green, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑12||Peas, green, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑13||Cabbage, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑14||Cabbage, red, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑15||Cauliflower, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑16||Turnip greens, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑17||Beet greens, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑18||Mustard greens, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑19||Collards, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑20||Kale, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑21||Spinach, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑22||Sweet potato, cooked, baked in skin, flesh, with salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑23||Potatoes, white, flesh and skin, baked. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑24||Turnips, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑25||Okra, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑26||Parsley, fresh. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑27||Thyme, fresh. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑28||Peppers, sweet, red, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑29||Peppers, sweet, green, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑30||Tomatoes, red, ripe, raw, year round average. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|