24 Foods High in Vitamin C for a Healthy Immune System

Perhaps most famous for its antioxidant properties, vitamin C — also called ascorbic acid — is a water-soluble vitamin that supports immune health, helps produce collagen and helps the body absorb iron, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Foods that are high in vitamin C are generally fruits and vegetables. While these days vitamin C deficiency is incredibly rare, in the 18th century when sailors embarked on months-long overseas journeys without access to fresh fruits and vegetables, they often developed scurvy, a disease that occurs from severe lack of vitamin C, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM). Symptoms of scurvy include anemia, gum disease, weakness and skin hemorrhages.

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How Much Vitamin C Do You Need?

Adults assigned female at birth need 75 milligrams of vitamin C per day while adults assigned male at birth need 90 milligrams per day, according to NIH.

Read on for a list of vitamin C foods and how they can help support your health. Note that the FDA calculates its Daily Value (DV) percentages based on eating 90 milligrams of vitamin C per day.

1. Guava: 376.7 mg, 419% Daily Value (DV)

Guava tops the chart with incredible amounts of vitamin C and it also offers plenty of fiber.
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This bright tropical fruit is the top food high in ascorbic acid, offering 419 percent (!) of the DV as well as 9 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein per 1-cup serving. Blend it into your favorite smoothie for a refreshing, hydrating and vitamin C-packed snack.

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2. Red Bell Peppers: 190.3 mg, 211% DV

Bell peppers of all colors are excellent sources of vitamin C, but red contains the most, with 211 percent of the DV per 1 cup raw. Red bell peppers also contain much higher levels of beta-carotene (that's why they're red!) than their green and yellow sisters.

Red bell peppers also contain fiber and a bit of plant-based iron (also called non-heme iron).

3. Kiwifruit: 166.9 mg, 185% DV

Kiwifruit — kiwi for short — hails from New Zealand, and its sweet green flesh delivers 185 percent of the DV for vitamin C per cup (that's about two whole fruits).

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Kiwi is also a good source of fiber and provides some potassium and phosphorous. Cut your kiwi in half and use a spoon to scoop out the fruit from its own bowl.

4. Green Bell Pepper: 119.8 mg, 133% DV

While green bell peppers don't contain quite as much vitamin C as red bell peppers, just 1 cup will get you well over your daily needs with 133 percent of the DV.

And like their red sister, green bell peppers provide some iron and fiber, making them a nutritious add-in to salads and stir-fries.

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5. Broccoli: 101.2 mg, 112% DV

Broccoli is the better-liked cousin of Brussels sprouts — they both hail from the species ​Brassica oleracea​ — so it makes sense they share similar nutritional properties.

A 1-cup serving of cooked broccoli contains 112 percent of the DV for vitamin C, 5 grams of fiber and nearly 4 grams of protein. Broccoli is also an excellent source of fat-soluble vitamin K. That means cooking the vegetable in a bit of butter tastes great ​and​ helps your body absorb the vitamin K.

6. Strawberries: 97.6 mg, 108% DV

Yes, strawberries (the only fruit to wear its seeds on the outside, by the way) rank higher than oranges in the vitamin C department. (But don't worry, we'll get to oranges soon.)

A 1-cup serving of this summer favorite delivers 108 percent of the DV for vitamin C and 3 grams of fiber. Try them in these delicious strawberry breakfast recipes.

7. Brussels Sprouts: 96.7 mg, 107% DV

You either love 'em or hate 'em, but there's no question that Brussels sprouts pack a nutritional punch. They're higher in vitamin C than oranges, with 107 percent of the DV per cup cooked and have fiber and plant-based protein.

While roasted Brussels sprouts are a fan favorite, you'll want to try these six non-roasted recipes.

8. Oranges: 95.8 mg, 106% DV

Oranges and orange juice are known for their vitamin C content, but the fruit also provides fiber and potassium.
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Orange you glad we finally got to oranges? While oranges and orange juice are the poster children for vitamin C, as you've read, they have much lower amounts than other fruits and vegetables. But 1 cup will still clock in at more than your daily needs: 106 percent of the DV for vitamin C.

Orange juice is often fortified with important nutrients, including calcium and vitamin D, making it a healthy part of your diet in moderation, as it still contains high sugar levels.

9. Papaya: 88.3 mg, 98% DV

A cup of this pink-red fruit delivers almost a full day's worth of vitamin C, with 95 percent of the DV.

Thanks to its red color, the tropical fruit is also a good source of vitamin A and lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant found in red foods (like tomatoes) that has been linked to lower stroke risk, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

10. Grapefruit: 85.1 mg, 95% DV

Grapefruit, orange's more tart cousin, offers comparable nutrition. (But no, it does not boast enough nutrition for you to safely follow the notorious grapefruit fad diet for weight loss.)

A 1-cup serving offers 95 percent of the DV for vitamin C, making it a tasty alternative to oranges for when you want to switch up your citrus fruits. The pink and red varieties are good sources of beta-carotene, which is needed to make vitamin A, as well as lycopene, according to the AHA.

Warning

Grapefruit has been shown to interfere with some anti-cholesterol statin drugs and other heart-related medications, per the AHA. If you take these types of medications, speak with your doctor about whether you should include grapefruit in your diet.

11. Pineapple: 78.9 mg, 88% DV

Pineapple, another tropical fruit, touts sweetness and high amounts of vitamin C: 88 percent of the DV per cup.

Pineapple can be cut into chunks, sliced into spears rings and offers a deliicous smoky-sweet taste when grilled.

12. Mango: 60.1 mg, 67% DV

Ripe mango is sweet, juicy and creamy, but it's also one of the higher-sugar fruits, with 45 percent of the DV for sugar per 1-cup serving. That said, it offers many other nutrients, making it a healthy option.

Per 1-cup serving, mango has 67 percent of the DV for vitamin C. It also has smaller amounts of potassium and vitamins A, E and K.

13. Cantaloupe Melon: 58.7 mg, 65% DV

Cantaloupe melon packs vitamin C and potassium, and can be enjoyed balled, cubed or sliced.
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If you're looking for ways to get more vitamin C, fruit really is the way to go. Cantaloupe melon is hydrating thanks to its water content and provides 65 percent of the DV for vitamin C per 1-cup serving.

Cantaloupe, like other melons including watermelon, also contain vitamin A, vitamin B6, potassium and fiber, according to the USDA.

14. Cauliflower: 54.9 mg, 61% DV

Another cruciferous vegetable, like Brussels sprouts and broccoli, cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin C, with 61 percent of the DV per 1 cup cooked.

Cauliflower, which comes in several varieties, including white, purple, green and Romanesco, offers fiber and vitamin K. Try cooking the low-calorie veggie with one of these comforting cauliflower recipes.

15. Tomatoes: 54.7 mg, 61% DV

Tomatoes, cooked or raw, are a good source of many nutrients, including the antioxidant lycopene. Cooked tomatoes, though, are higher in vitamin C than raw tomatoes, with 61 percent of the DV versus 23 percent per cup.

It's worth noting, however, that cooking vegetables tends to decrease its vitamin C levels, according to an April 2018 study published in ​Food Science and Biotechnology.

16. Tangerines: 52.1 mg, 58% DV

Orange's little sister, the tangerine, is the perfect snack: The one-bite slices are juicy and sweet, and a 1-cup serving packs 58 percent of the DV for vitamin C.

Tangerines also provide some calcium, potassium and iron. Add sliced tangerines to yogurt or oatmeal for natural sweetness and fiber.

17. Sweet Potatoes: 39.2 mg, 44% DV

If you're looking for a more hearty source of vitamin C than citrus fruits or cruciferous vegetables, look to sweet potatoes. A 1-cup serving of baked sweet potato (may we recommend a dash of cinnamon and a drizzle of maple syrup on top?) contains 44 percent of the DV for vitamin C.

Sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene — hence their orange color — and have nearly 7 grams of fiber per cup.

18. Snow Peas: 37.8 mg, 42% DV

Snow peas, also known as Chinese peas, are a popular stir-fry vegetable.
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Peas come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. The flat snow pea pod contains very small peas, and once you remove the strings from the pod, you can eat the entire thing. Like most peas, snow peas are low in calories: 1 cup contains just 26 calories but also provides 42 percent of the DV for vitamin C.

Add snow peas to any of these healthy stir-fry recipes.

19. Raspberries: 32.2 mg, 36% DV

Poppable, juicy, sweet and high in nutrients, raspberries are perfect snacks or toppers for cereal, yogurt and oatmeal. A 1-cup serving gives you 36 percent of the DV for vitamin C and 8 grams of fiber.

20. Blackberries: 30.2 mg, 34% DV

Per cup, blackberries contain just a bit less vitamin C than raspberries, with 34 percent of your DV. Top your favorite cereal, yogurt or oatmeal with these antioxidant-rich berries that also provide nearly 8 grams of fiber per serving.

21. Kale: 23.1 mg, 26% DV

Cooked kale is a heavy-hitter thanks to its vitamin C — 26 percent of the DV per cooked cup. It also packs vitamin K — 453 percent (!) of the DV — and iron.

Not into the bitterness of kale? Try one of these creative, tasty recipes for when you just don't want a salad.

22. Spinach: 17.6 mg, 20% DV

There's kale and then there's spinach: Both are popular leafy greens (especially the baby versions, which tend to be less bitter) that provide quality nutrition.

A 1-cup serving of cooked spinach contains 20 percent of the DV for vitamin C. Spinach is also a good source of plant-based iron and potassium. And like all leafy greens, spinach is an excellent source of folate, which is especially important in early stages of pregnancy.

23. Blueberries: 14.4 mg, 14% DV

Blueberries are incredibly high in antioxidants, including vitamin C, and have been shown to support brain health.
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When it comes to overall antioxidant potency, blueberries take the... pie. The small berry is rich in anthocyanins — antioxidants that give blueberries their blue color — and has anti-inflammatory effects, according to a March 2020 review in ​Advances in Nutrition.

24. Watermelon: 12.3 mg, 14% DV

The hydrating fruit contains 14 percent of the DV for vitamin C per cup. Watermelon also provides potassium (an electrolyte), making it a perfect snack post-workout.

Below, check out this handy chart that lists the top foods high in vitamin C.

10 Top Foods High in Vitamin C

Food

Serving Size

Vitamin C Content

Guava

1 cup

376.7 mg, 419% DV

Red Bell Pepper

1 cup raw

190.3 mg, 211% DV

Kiwifruit

1 cup

166.9 mg, 185% DV

Green Bell Pepper

1 cup raw

119.8 mg, 133% DV

Broccoli

1 cup cooked

101.2 mg, 112% DV

Strawberries

1 cup

97.6 mg, 108% DV

Brussels Sprouts

1 cup cooked

96.7 mg, 107% DV

Oranges

1 cup

95.8 mg, 106% DV

Papaya

1 cup

88.3 mg, 98% DV

Grapefruit

1 cup

85.1 mg, 95% DV

Source: USDA

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