10 vitamin C foods that fight diabetes and viral illness

Published on: 01/25/2022
fruits high in vitamin C, orange slices, kiwi and grapefruit

Did you know that Vitamin C is an important antioxidant for fighting diabetes and other disease AND boosts our immune system?

Keeping our immune system strong is more important these days than ever.  If you have diabetes,  that alone can make your immune system weaker, especially if blood sugars run over 200.

So why not just take a supplement?

For one, if you take more than 1000 mg vitamin C a day your body will only absorb about half that. The rest you just pee out.

And does the supplement have zeathanthin, lutein, hesperetin, limonin, glutathione, and several other phytonutrients I can’t pronounce? or fiber, potassium, and folate?

Hesperetin, for example, is in many citrus fruits high in vitamin C and helps fight cancer, heart disease, and infections. So, by eating the actual foods that contain vitamin C you get a load of added disease fighting nutrition as a bonus!  That is why I try to choose food first,  but I am not opposed to taking a good quality supplement either. You just want to make sure it’s quality and not in excessive amounts.

So why is it so difficult to eat enough fruits and veggies? One problem if you live in our cold Minnesota winters, the fruits and vegetables are not always as fresh and appealing as they are in warmer months.

Let me give you a few ideas along with my top 10 winter vitamin C foods. I have listed them in order of highest vitamin C content:

Red bell peppers

Yes! Red bell peppers have more vitamin C than oranges! What to do with them? Try adding to fajitas, omelets, or cut in half and stuff with cottage cheese, or cut into slices and eat as is or with a dip of your choice.

Oranges, tangerines, mandarin oranges, and clementine

I lumped these together since they are all very similar, even though oranges have the most vitamin C. But according to the American Institute of Cancer Research, mandarin oranges have 2 powerful antioxidants, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. and many of the mandarins and tangerines are popular since they are smaller and easy to peel.

Kiwi fruit

I have had some really tasty kiwi lately. Did you know kiwi is also good for constipation? A recent study showed that 2 kiwis daily for 4 weeks was an effective natural remedy for chronic constipation.


So, my favorite way to eat broccoli is steamed broccoli on baked potato and topped with cheese sauce. I just have to try and keep the baked potato on the smaller side to keep the carb load down.  The nutrients in broccoli make it a cancer-fighting superfood and the flavonoids help fight heart disease, which is a big risk factor for people with diabetes.


I don’t often find good strawberries during the winter months in Minnesota but if you can, they are a great vitamin C fruit! Enjoy those strawberries with a bit of dark chocolate for Valentines Day!

Brussels sprouts

These small cabbages are one of my new favorite vegetables and they have been very good from the store recently. Get recipe ideas and info in my blog article here.


This fruit is also a great source of potassium and folate, and pectin – which is great for lowering cholesterol. Ironic that the very food that helps fight cholesterol is limited when you are on certain heart medications. But food is much more powerful for PREVENTION of disease to avoid medications, than waiting until you HAVE the complications of disease. And you need to follow those recommendations from your doctor if you have been told to limit grapefruit.

Tomato juice, tomatoes, tomato sauce

According to Fooducate, a site that rates food products, when you buy canned tomato sauce products look for 30% vitamin C or more. During processing the vitamin C can be destroyed.


My favorite ways to enjoy cabbage are coleslaw or in a roast beef with carrots and potatoes. If you like sauerkraut, it’s a great food for the vitamin C and a fermented food, which is good for your gut. And a healthy digestive system is a big player in your immune strength.


You preserve the most vitamin C benefit by steaming in small amount of water or eating raw. I admit that I do not like the texture of raw cauliflower, but I love steamed cauliflower.

Here’s a few meal and snack ideas that combine your vitamin C with other important nutrients

Fresh fruit with mixed nuts or pumpkin seeds – pumpkin seeds and nuts are a great source of magnesium and Brazil nuts have far more selenium than other foods.

Oatmeal (has beta glucan, which is good for cholesterol) with fresh strawberries or kiwi.

Mixed fruit for snack – blueberries and grapes (these blue-purple fruits have resveratrol another antioxidant disease fighter)

Add brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, or broccoli to your meal with meat or seafood. Beef, pork, oysters, lobster, and crab are all good sources of zinc.

Need help putting together a diabetes fighting meal plan?  Contact Karen for information about a meal plan coaching option that can help!


Meet the Author
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Thanks for visiting my blog!

I’m Karen, a diabetes nutrition specialist who is passionate about fighting diabetes for my clients, my family, and myself.

I hope you find food ideas and answers to some of your questions here in my articles. But if you are looking for more personalized help with nutrition or diabetes please check out my services page.

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