Epidemiological evidence links high intake of ascorbic acid (AA) and other antioxidant micronutrients to health promotion. It would be useful to know the overall, or ‘total’ antioxidant capacity of foods, to establish the contribution of AA to this, and to assess how this information may translate into dietary intakes to meet the new US daily reference intake for AA. In this study, the total antioxidant capacity, as the ferric reducing–antioxidant power (FRAP) value, and AA content of thirty-four types of fruits and vegetables were measured using a modified version of the FRAP assay, known as FRASC. This measures AA (reduced form only) simultaneously with the FRAP value. Results covered a wide range: 880–15 940 μmol/kg fresh wet weight and <20–540 mg/kg fresh wet weight respectively, for FRAP and AA, which comprised <1–73 % and <1–59 % total antioxidant capacity of fruits and vegetables respectively. We estimate that 100 mg AA is contained in one orange, a few strawberries, one kiwi fruit, 1–2 slices of pineapple, several florets of raw cauliflower or a handful of uncooked spinach leaves. Apples, bananas, pears and plums, the most commonly consumed fruits in the UK, contain very little AA. Results indicate also that the antioxidant capacity of vegetables decreases rapidly and significantly after fragmentation. Results of this, and future studies, using FRASC as a biomonitoring tool will be useful in food production, preparation, preservation, and aid dietary choices to increase antioxidant and AA intake. Furthermore, FRASC will facilitate bioavailability studies of antioxidants from different foods of known antioxidant capacity and AA content.