This powerful antioxidant reduces free-radical damage throughout the body, lessening overall inflammation and inhibiting the production of C-reactive protein, a reliable marker of inflammation. Studies have shown that vitamin C also plays a role in maintaining blood pressure, in theory because it helps blood-vessel walls dilate, which increases blood flow and reduces blood pressure. It’s Daily Value (DV), according to the Council for Responsible Nutrition, starts at 60 mg and climbs to as much as 2,000 mg before posing any health risks.
Containing significant amounts of vitamins A and C in addition to iron, calcium, and folic acid, as well as its thyroid-strengthening iodine content, watercress is a vegetable you don’t want to pass up. It is also the most ancient green vegetable, tracing back to Persian, Greek, and early Roman civilizations. Watercress is a semi-aquatic vegetable that thrives in slightly alkaline water and can be grown both commercially and locally.
Watercress leaves can’t be dried, so distribution and storage can be difficult. Therefore watercress is best when eaten in season, from March to April. Try adding it to any sandwich as a compliment or complete substitution for lettuce.
The arrival of local strawberries is an early sign that summer has arrived. Often one of the first fruits to show up at your local farmers market, these delicious fruits have many benefits. In history, strawberries have been used in medicine, as a treatment for sunburn, to restore discolored teeth, and as an aid in digestion. Experts agree strawberries are superstars when it comes to antioxidant power. Just a single cup of strawberries will provide you with more than your DV of vitamin C, and they can assist in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Strawberries are a diet-friendly food—they are fat-free, low in calories, and rich in vitamins C and B6, fiber, and folic acid. Plus, they taste great!
Fun fact: Did you know that the outer skin of a strawberry contains over 200 seeds? These seeds, known as achenes to botanists, make strawberries rich in fiber.
This super-citrus fruit is in season in the United States from October to June and comes in white, pink, and Ruby Red varieties. The grapefruit gets its name because it grows in clusters much like grapes. Grapefruits are not only a significant source of Vitamin C (often averaging more than 80 mg per fruit) and potassium, but the pink variety (a hybrid between the Ruby Red and white varieties) packs 4 grams of fiber and lycopene, a potent antioxidant that protects against cancer and heart disease. It also averages less than 100 calories, which makes it a great sweet snack for those watching their waistlines.
First popular across the pond, this super fruit has 3 times the vitamin C of oranges. Small and glossy, black currants also contain potassium, copper, calcium, iron, vitamins E and B6, and soluble fiber. These shrub berries even contain gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a depression-fighting omega-6 essential fatty acid.
Cherry pie lovers, your time is now. Ideal-for-baking sour cherries have super short growing seasons, making them available for only a few weeks in June and July. Also great for sauces and side dishes, sour cherries pack in more disease-fighting anthocyanins than most fruits while offering vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber, folate, and 19 times more beta-carotene than blueberries or strawberries. Studies show sour cherries can also help ease arthritis pain and reduce risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.
Although the term fiddlehead describes all coiled ferns as they break through the soil, unfurled ostrich ferns are the type we most often eat. With a flavor that resembles artichokes, asparagus, and mushrooms, fiddleheads are packed with niacin, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin A, which promotes healthy eyes and immune systems. Select small, tightly coiled, jade-green ferns, and eat them within two days—they don’t keep long. Fiddleheads aren’t so toothsome raw, so rub off their papery scales, trim the ends, and steam, boil, or sauté for 5 minutes.
If you don’t get enough vitamin C in your regular diet, you can always load up by way of multivitamin supplementation (although acquiring vitamins through real food is by far the tastiest method). You can find them in drink mixes, tablets, gel capsules, and gummies. You can also buy supplements that are food-based, which means the nutrients in the supplements comes from a real food source and not a lab.
Dick Benson Editor in Chief