If you take vitamins, you are not alone. Americans have a love affair with supplements, to the tune of 11.5 billion dollars a year. In fact, more than half of all Americans are popping vitamins and supplements.
Supplements can be problematic when they are viewed as a way to make up for a poor diet. It’s a Band-Aid approach to think that popping a pill will equal the health-promoting effect of taking care of your health the old-fashioned way -- eating a nutritious diet and exercising. There is simply no substitute for a healthy lifestyle.
Eating food with nutrients packaged the way Mother Nature intended -- altogether and intact -- has proven health and longevity benefits whereas popping isolated nutrients have questionable health benefits and in some cases can even increase risk of disease.
Here are four examples of how to replace your Vitamin C supplement with foods that supply the same nutrient plus much, much more:
- Hot Chili Peppers: A ½ cup of chopped green chili peppers contains close to 200 mg of Vitamin C plus a nice dose of potassium, Vitamin K, beta-carotene and two powerful plant antioxidants essential for eye health, lutein and zeaxanthin. What’s more, hot chili peppers contain capsaicin, the anti-cancer compound known to raise metabolic rate.
- Kale: Kale is a true superfood and leads the pack of dark leafy greens when it comes to nutrients. Two cups of chopped kale will provide you with 200 mg of Vitamin C plus a whole host of additional nutrients: calcium, iron, vitamin B-6, potassium, magnesium and fiber just to name a few!
- Bell Peppers: The sweet bell pepper packs a high Vitamin C punch. The amount of Vitamin C depends on color, with one yellow pepper providing a whopping 345 mg. Red peppers contain 200 mg and a single green contains just about 100 mg. With the Vitamin C comes a nice amount of the powerful antioxidant beta-carotene as well as the B vitamins. And all this for a mere 50 calories!
- Papaya: Who knew? Papaya has twice the Vitamin C of the world’s most famous Vitamin C fruit: the orange! One small papaya has close to 100 mg of Vitamin C. Compare that to an orange with just about 50 mg. Plus you get much more nutritional bang for your bite with the papaya as it is also a nice source of Vitamin A, folate and fiber.
Food provides nutrients the way Mother Nature intended them to be delivered -- packaged together with other nutrients that all work together. The motto “you are only as good as the company you keep” can be applied to the concept of getting your vitamins from whole food rather than popping the isolated nutrients in supplement form. Multivitamins can be an insurance policy if you don't get enough of specific vitamins, but it can never replace a healthy diet and exercise plan.
Add these four Vitamin C mega-foods into your diet, toss the Vitamin C supplements and you’ll surely be on the road to better health!