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The Heart-Healthy Benefits of Vitamin C

When you think of how vitamin C benefits your body, you probably think of its well-known role in supporting immune function. However, vitamin C does more than just stave off colds and flu. A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found vitamin C may also reduce the risk of heart disease. And luckily, many fruits and vegetables are a source of this key nutrient.

The study was conducted by Danish researchers who followed more than 100,000 people, tracking their diets and incidence of ischemic heart disease (which is characterized by a shortage in oxygen to the heart).

They found that those with the highest intake of fruits and vegetables had a 15 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and a 20 percent lower risk of early death compared to those who ate the least. According to Camilla Kobylecki, one of the scientists, “we can see that the reduced risk is related to high vitamin C concentrations in the blood from the fruits and vegetables.”[i] Wow! That’s quite a statement!

How can you get more vitamin C into your diet? It isn’t difficult. In fact, most fruits and vegetables are good sources. For example:

· Snacking on a medium orange provides 93 percent of the daily value (DV) for vitamin C. That’s a simple and tasty way to get your C, but citrus fruits aren’t your only option.

· At breakfast, you could eat half a medium papaya for 112 percent of the DV for vitamin C.

· Or you could toss a cup of pineapple into the blender with some yogurt for a delicious smoothie and 105 percent of the DV for vitamin C.

· Munch on two cups of raw kale in a salad at lunch, and you’ll get 142 percent of the DV for vitamin C. Sample one of these ten tempting recipes.

· And a one-cup serving of broccoli has 135 percent of the DV for vitamin C and makes a great side dish at dinner. Try steamed broccoli with a little butter, grated Parmesan, and slivered almonds.

Need more ideas? If you don’t have roasted Brussels sprouts in your regular cold-weather dinner rotation, now’s the time try them. They are in season during the fall and winter. This recipe is one of my personal favorites.

Half a grapefruit at breakfast is the traditional way to eat this fruit, but you can enjoy it any time of the day. Try it in this watercress salad with walnuts. (FYI, watercress was recently found by researchers at William Paterson University to be the most nutrition-packed vegetable.[ii])

Bell peppers are also a great source of vitamin C, so consider whipping up some tasty fajitas to serve yourself or your family. You can substitute the chicken for steak in this recipe if you desire.

What’s your favorite way to get your vitamin C?


[i] Gray N. Vitamin C intake linked to lower risk of heart disease and early death. Nutraingredients. 2015 Jul 15.

[ii] Bernstein L. Watercress tops list of ‘powerhouse fruits and vegetables.’ Who knew? The Washington Post. June 5, 2014.


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