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How to Get More Vitamin C in Your Diet

This antioxidant super-nutrient is found in a variety of fruits and vegetables. Yet, according to dietary intake data and the 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines, most adults don't get enough vitamin C in their diets. This is especially true of smokers and non-Hispanic black males, according to research done by Jeff Hampl, PhD, RD, and colleagues at the University of Arizona.

The foods richest in vitamin C are citrus fruits, green peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, white potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Other good sources include dark leafy greens, cantaloupe, papaya, mango, watermelon, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, red peppers, raspberries, blueberries, winter squash, and pineapples.

Here are eight easy ways to work more fruits and veggies into your diet each day:

  1. Add pureed or grated fruits and veggies to recipes for muffins, meatloaf, and soups.
  2. Keep cut-up fruits and veggies on hand so they are ready for a quick snack.
  3. Frozen fruit slices make a cool summer treat.
  4. Include dark lettuce, tomatoes, and shredded broccoli slaw on all your sandwiches and wraps.
  5. Eat raw veggies with hummus, low-fat dips, and salsas.
  6. Add fresh or frozen berries to muffins, pancakes, cereal, and salads.
  7. Throw a handful of dried fruit on top of your cereal or in a baggie with nuts for an easy snack.
  8. Enjoy a glass of vegetable juice as a filling and low-calorie mid-afternoon snack.

The bottom line? "There is no one silver bullet vitamin, mineral, or nutrient," says Sandquist. "It is all about the big picture. And eating a varied diet rich in all the nutrients is the best strategy for good health."

Her advice: Take a daily multivitamin, because most people don't get enough of several nutrients. And if you want to combat colds and flu, wash your hands more often.

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