It’s officially peak flu season. AKA, the worst season of the year … ugh!
Fortunately, there’s a simple solution to boost your immune system and hopefully keep yourself healthy this winter: Vitamin C.
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that helps create collagen, heal wounds, and acts as an antioxidant. It also strengthens immune cell function, giving your immune system the ability to react to infections and wounds more quickly.
There’s a catch, though: Vitamin C is water-soluble. That means our bodies can absorb it, but they can’t store it or produce it. Basically, the only way to get more Vitamin C is by eating foods that have a high concentration of the nutrient or by taking supplements.
And which ones are those? Namely fruits and veggies.
Here are three ways to add more Vitamin C to your diet this winter to keep the sniffles (and extra weight) away:
- Red bell peppers
Technically, all bell peppers have Vitamin C and various antioxidants. But if you’re looking to get the biggest bang for your buck, stock up on red bell peppers.
Due to being fully ripened, red bell peppers are exceptionally high in Vitamin C, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, which are the natural compounds found in plants.
So, exactly how many bell peppers are you going to have to work into your meals this winter? Turns out, not as many as you’d think.
A half cup of raw peppers accounts for over 100% of your daily recommended value. While boiling or steaming bell peppers will remove some of the nutrients, you’ll get the most benefits by stir-frying or lightly roasting them.
- Cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous (how’s that for an SAT word?) vegetables – broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts – all have a high Vitamin C content.
If getting your leafy greens still isn’t looking as appetizing, let me convince you.
Not only are cruciferous vegetables high in Vitamin C, but they also contain fiber, potassium, and glycosylates, which help moderate inflammation, and stress responses and fight cancer.
Basically, if you can manage a serving of leafy greens, go for it. Adults need only two-and-a-half cups a day of cruciferous vegetables, and they’ll do so much more than keep the winter sniffles away.
- Citrus fruits
If you’ve ever heard the myth that a glass of orange juice can keep you from getting sick, that’s not completely inaccurate. In fact, orange juice does have enough Vitamin C to strengthen your immune system — one glass of orange juice can have up to 207% of your daily recommended amount of vitamin C.
However, if you’re looking to skip the sugar, going right to the source is better.
Oranges and other citrus fruits are all high in Vitamin C (one orange can have up to 70mg!) and have fewer sugars than fruit juices.
Avoiding illness is on everyone’s mind right now, and a diet rich in vitamin C is essential to a healthy immune system.