Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that may help reduce inflammation and damage to the arteries, a precursor to artery disease.

Vitamin C foods may protect your heart

Buying Veggies Fruit

Cardiovascular disease has a huge impact on this country, both health-wise and financially. It affects many families and is the leading cause of death of men and women.

  • 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s one in every four deaths
  • 735,000 Americans have a heart attack; of these, 525,000 are a first heart attack

A recent study from Denmark indicates that fruits and vegetables might offer protection from developing cardiovascular disease. Here is more from this study:

  • The study included 100,000 Danes
  • Fruit and vegetable intake was assessed
  • Vitamin C levels in the blood were obtained

The results from this cardiovascular study:

  • Those who ate the most fruits and vegetables had a 15 percent lower cardiovascular disease risk, and 20 percent lower risk of early death
  • The Vitamin C blood levels were higher in the fruits and veggie eaters than those with lower produce intake, and at greatest risk for cardiovascular disease. 
  • The researchers state that the Vitamin C-rich foods contributed to the better blood levels of Vitamin C.

Sources of vitamin C in the diet:

  • From fruits: Strawberries, citrus (oranges and grapefruit), kiwi and papaya  
  • From vegetables: Bell peppers, greens such as collard greens and spinach, white and sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, cabbage and broccoli

What is it about Vitamin C-rich foods that might protect the vascular system? It is a powerful antioxidant that may help reduce inflammation and damage to the arteries, a precursor to artery disease.

Eating Vitamin C-rich foods every day is important because the body does not produce Vitamin C on its own. The benefit of getting the Vitamin C from fruits and vegetables is that you also obtain other health-promoting nutrients such as potassium, antioxidants and fiber that are naturally high in produce – you’ll miss all of those if you just pop a Vitamin C pill.

Strive for five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day, and be sure that two or more servings contain Vitamin C.

Recipes with Vitamin C:

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.