If there’s one vitamin you’ve been hearing about since you were five years old, it’s vitamin C—and when you think about vitamin C foods, surely oranges come to mind (thanks for that, orange juice commercials). Yet while you probably know that this nutrient is super-important for your health, you might still have questions about what vitamin C actually does.
A quick refresher: Vitamin C aids in tissue repair and growth, so it’s crucial for everything from your cartilage, tendons, skin, bones, blood vessels, and more, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. (Yep, that means that vitamin C is a must-have for building the collagen protein needed by so many parts of your body—both inside and outside.)
It also happens to be a type of superhero nutrient called an antioxidant, meaning it helps the body fight off damaging compounds called free radicals, which may be connected to heart disease and cancer, among a slew of other serious chronic health issues. Additionally, its antioxidant properties make vitamin C an incredibly important player in a robust, healthy immune system.
We need different amounts of vitamin C at different points in life, though adult men and women generally require 90 and 75 milligrams per day, respectively. Certain groups of people also need more of this antioxidant than others, with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommending that smokers tack an extra 35 milligrams per day onto their baseline needs while lactating women take in up to 120 milligrams total every day.
A medium orange packs about 70 milligrams of vitamin C (impressive!)—but it’s not your only option for loading up on the goods. In fact, quite a few different fruits and vegetables are good sources of this powerhouse antioxidant. Here are a bunch of vitamin C foods that nutritionists recommend—plus how to get them on your plate regularly.
1. Red Bell Pepper
Vitamin C punch: 95 milligrams per 1/2 cup
Red bell peppers are the sweetest of the bell pepper bunch, which is why they’re such a popular option for snacking on raw. They’re also one of the richest vitamin C foods in the game. Dip slices in hummus or guacamole for a simple, refreshing mid-afternoon snack. Or, try transforming them into red pepper dip by blending them with olive oil and your favorite seasonings, suggests The Vitamin Shoppe nutritionist Roseanne Schnell, C.D.N. (You can sign up for free nutrition coaching with her or another of our nutritionists here.) Enjoy it with pita chips, celery sticks, or raw broccoli florets.
Vitamin C punch: 64 milligrams per one medium kiwi
If you tend to walk straight past the kiwi during strolls down the grocery aisle, well, stop it! This sweet, tangy tropical fruit is a fantastic source of vitamin C—and a whole lot of fun to eat. To snack on kiwi on its own, Schnell recommends simply slicing it in half longways and digging in with a spoon to save time on peeling that skin.
Kiwi is also delicious in green juices with veggies and green apple and makes for a fun addition to your usual guacamole—or even that plain glass of water.
3. Green Bell Pepper
Vitamin C punch: 60 milligrams per 1/2 cup
Green bell peppers have a mild flavor that makes them incredibly versatile. Turn them into a full-on meal by stuffing them with ground meat, beans, quinoa, rice, and other vegetables (chopped onions and carrots, perhaps?), suggests Schnell. Or, sauté them up with red, yellow, and/or orange bell peppers to put on fajitas or fish.
Vitamin C punch: 46 milligrams per 1/2 cup
Sweet, sweet strawberries are a delicious way to get your vitamin C in, whether you layer them into yogurt parfaits or oatmeal, dip them in chocolate hazelnut spread, slice them onto rice cakes, or mix them into your favorite fruit salad, says Schnell. Heck, you can even mash them up for your own DIY strawberry jam to spread on toast.
Vitamin C punch: 51 milligrams per 1/2 cup
Broccoli may not have been your favorite growing up, but there’s no shortage of ways to get this vitamin C-loaded vegetable onto your plate if you’re willing to give it another chance. (Um, have you heard of broccoli cheddar soup?) Schnell also recommends mixing small broccoli pieces into omelets, casseroles, and quiches for extra nutrition (including plenty of fiber). Broccoli slaw also adds a satisfying crunch to salads and tacos.
6. Brussels Sprouts
Vitamin C punch: 48 milligrams per 1/2 cup
Another childhood nemesis that certainly deserves a spot on your plate now, Brussels sprouts are chock-full of fiber and taste unbelievably good when roasted up with plenty of olive oil until those outer leaves get crispy. Try these honey almond roasted Brussels sprouts or these pistachio sage roasted Brussels to get that vitamin C in—and enjoy every bite.
Vitamin C punch: 39 milligrams per 1/2 medium fruit
Unsurprisingly, oranges aren’t the only variety of citrus fruit that offers vitamin C, so if you’re looking to switch up your breakfast or healthy snack game, why not show sweet-tart grapefruit some love? Slice it up plain (sprinkle a little stevia or Tajín on top for extra flavor) or squeeze a wedge into your still or sparkling water.
Vitamin C punch: 29 milligrams per 1/2 cup
Also a source of the antioxidant beta-carotene, some of which is converted to vitamin A in the body, subtly sweet cantaloupe is often overlooked amongst vitamin C foods. The Vitamin Shoppe nutritionist Karen Cooney, C.N., C.H.H.C., likes to whip up cantaloupe sorbet by tossing frozen chunks of the melon into the food processor and blending until smooth.
Vitamin C punch: 28 milligrams per 1/2 cup
You probably already know that cabbage is high in fiber and great for your digestion—and it’s a solid source of vitamin C, too. You can always get your fill by eating fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut, but Cooney also recommends making cabbage soup in the colder months for an easy-to-digest, filling, and comforting meal.
Vitamin C punch: 26 milligrams per 1/2 cup
Yep, add cauliflower to the list of veggies that can help you get that daily vitamin C intake up. This low-calorie and low-carb vegetable makes for a great alternative to mashed potatoes; just process steamed florets with butter or olive oil and some salt and pepper, suggests Cooney.
Read More: 6 Ways To Make Low-Carb Eating More Filling
Another simple way to sneak it into your diet? Throw frozen cauliflower into your smoothies. “You can’t taste the cauliflower and it makes smoothies creamy like a banana would,” Cooney says. “Trust me, try it!”