Healthy Gardening: Ten Easy To Grow Sources of Vitamin C
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is one of the most important vitamins for overall health. Vitamin C is an antioxidant than can protect against disease and reduce your risk of cancer and many other conditions. It improves iron absorption, reducing the risk of anemia and other blood problems, and helps the body control levels of vitamin E, another major antioxidant.
Although vitamin C is extremely common in supplements, it is tastier and healthier to acquire it through foods. Many of the fruits and vegetables richest in vitamin C are not only nutritious and delicious, they are also easy to grow in home vegetable gardens! Some can even be grown indoors or on patio or balcony gardens!
Here are ten of the most nutrient-dense and easy to grow sources of vitamin C:
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Top Ten Easy To Grow Sources of Vitamin C
- Red bell peppers. A single cup of raw red bell peppers (delicious on salads) provides nearly 300% of your recommended daily allotment of vitamin C! Bell peppers are also excellent sources of vitamins A and B6, and good sources of dietary fiber, folic acid, and vitamin K. Bell peppers are also considered very easy to grow in most regions of the United States.
- Broccoli. Another highly nutritious and easy to grow vegetable, a cup of lightly steamed broccoli provides about 200% of your daily vitamin C allotment. Broccoli is considered one of the world's most nutritious vegetables: it is also a wonderful source of vitamin A, vitamin K, folic acid, dietary fiber, magnesium,calcium, protein, and most of the B vitamins, among others. Not a broccoli fan? Some of these broccoli recipes might change your mind! Broccoli's close relatives, cauliflower, is also a good source of vitamin C, as are two more relatives, cabbage and brussels sprouts.
- Strawberries. These delicious fruits can easily be grown in pots on porches, patios, and balconies and are so easy to grow in gardens that you might actually have trouble controlling them! In addition to their very high vitamin c content, they are also great sources of manganese, dietary fiber, and iodine. Raspberries and blueberries are more easy to grow berries with high vitamin C content.
- Kale. Kale is a relatively unusual vegetable that has been getting lots of attention in recent years due to its remarkable health benefits. As a member of the "leafy green" family of vegetables that is arguably considered the healthiest of all vegetable types, kale contains lots and lots of vitamins C, K, and A, dietary fiber, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and potassium, as well as healthy amounts of omega 3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin E, folic acid, and the B vitamins. Kale is also very easy to grow in most climates of the United States. Other easy to grow leafy greens that make great sources of vitamin C include: mustard greens, turnip greens, romaine lettuce, swiss chard, and spinach.
- Tomatoes. Probably the single most popular garden vegetables, for good reason. Nothing beats the taste of a home-grown tomato and they're easy to grow in garden or in (large) pots on patios, porches, and balconies. In addition to being a great source of vitamin C, tomatoes have lots of vitamin K, vitamin A, molybdenum, potassium, and dietary fiber.
- Watermelon. Everybody's favorite summer fruit, watermelons are easy to grow but need a lot of space. They're great sources of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin B1, potassium, and magnesium. Cantaloupe is also a good source of vitamin C that is easy to grow in some parts of the country.
- Parsley. Okay, you'd have to eat an awful lot of parsley to get your full daily allotment of vitamin C, but it is a surprisingly nutrient-dense source of the vitamin. Just 2 Tablespoons of fresh parsley will give you more than 16% of your daily allotment, as well as good sized servings of vitamin C, vitamin A, folic acid, and iron. Parsley is easy to grow and is the host plant for the beautiful Black Swallowtail Butterfly.
- Green beans. As a nitrogen-fixing legume, green beans are one of the gardener's best friends, and so easy to grow that, like strawberries, you'll probably have more trouble controlling them than growing them. Green beans are great sources of vitamins C, K, and A, manganese, iron, dietary fiber, and folic acid.
- Carrots. Although carrots are famous for their vitamin C content, they're even better sources of vitamin A. A single cup of raw carrots contains nearly 700% of your daily allotment of vitamin A! The same amount has a mere 19% of your daily vitamin C allotment. This is not to say that carrots are bad sources of vitamin C, simply that vitamin C is not their most outstanding nutritional quality. Carrots also have plenty of vitamin K, dietary fiber, potassium, and more. Carrots are relatively easy to grow and are another host for the Black Swallowtail, but they do like a nice deep, loose bed, so double digging is encouraged if you plan to plant carrots.
- Sweet Potatoes. Like watermelons, sweet potatoes require a lot of room in the garden, but the reward is a tasty and nutritious source of vitamin C, vitamin A, manganese, copper, dietary fiber, potassium, iron, and vitamin B6.
Vitamin C is sensitive to high temperatures, so it is is best to eat foods with a lot of vitamin C in them raw if possible. When deciding what to plant, especially if you have limited space, keep this fact in mind.