The lemon, Citrus limon, is a species of small evergreen tree in the flowering plant family Rutaceae, native to South Asia, primarily North eastern India. Its fruits are round in shape.
The tree’s ellipsoidal yellow fruit is used for culinary and non-culinary purposes throughout the world, primarily for its juice, which has both culinary and cleaning uses.
The pulp and rind are also used in cooking and baking. The juice of the lemon is about 5% to 6% citric acid, with a pH of around 2.2, giving it a sour taste of lemon juice makes it a key ingredient in drinks and food such as lemonade and lemon meringue pie.
Lemons are a popular fruit that people use in small quantities to add flavor to food. However, they rarly consume them alone due to their intense, sour taste.
Lemons give flavor to baked goods, sauces, salad dressings, marinades, drinks, and desserts, and they are also a good source of vitamin C.
One 58 gra (g) lemon can provide over 30 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential for health, and a deficiency can lead to health problems. The early explorers knew this and took lemons on their long voyages to help prevent or treat scurvy, a life threatening condition that was common among sailors.
This article looks at the nutritional content of lemons, their possible health benefits, ways to use them in foods, and any potential health risk.
Lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C and flavonoids, which are antioxidants.
Antioxidants help remove free radicals that can damage cells from the body. The nutrients can help prevent diseases and boost health and wellbeing.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF LEMON
■ SUPPORT HEART HEALTH
Lemons are a good source of vitamin C. NOne lemon provides about 31 mg of vatamin C, which is 51% of the reference daily intake (RDI).
Research shows that eating fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke.
However, it’s not only the vitamin C that is though to good for your heart. The fiber and plant compounds in lemon could also significantly lower some risk factors for heart diseases.
One study revealed that eating 24 grams of citrus fiber extract daily for a month reduced total blood cholesterol levels.
PLANT COMPOUNDS FOUND IN LEMONS:
● namely hesperidin and diosmin
● have also been found to lower cholesterol.
Lemons are high in heart-healthy vitamin C and several beneficial plant compounds that may lower cholesterol.
■ IT SUPPORTS WEIGHT LOSS
Research has shown that polyphenol antioxidants found in lemons significantly reduces weight gain in mice that are overfed in order to induce obesity.
In these mice studies, the antioxidant compounds also offset the negative effects on blood glucose levels and improved insulin resistance, the two main factors are in the development of type 2 diabetes.
■ HELP CONTROL WEIGHT
Lemon are often promoted as a weight loss food, and there are a few theories as to why this is. One common theory is that the soluble pectic fiber in them expands in your stomach, helping you feel full for longer.
That said, not many people eat lemons whole. And because lemon juice contains no pictin, lemon juice drinks will not promote fullness in the same way.
Another theory suggests that drinking hot water with lemon will help you lose weigth. However, drinking water is known to temporarily increase the number of calories you burn, so it may be the water itself that is helping with weight loss – not the lemon.
Other theories suggest that the plant compounds in lemon extract may help prevent or reduce weight gain in a number of ways. Research shows that plant compounds in lemon extracts may help prevent or reduce weigth gain in a number of ways.
In one study, mice on a fattening diet were given lemon polyphenols extracted from the peel. They gained less weight and body fat than other mice.
Animal studies show that lemon extract and plant compounds may promote weight loss, but the effects in human are unknown.
■ WEIGHT LOSS
In a 2008 study, rodents who consumed lemon peel phenols with a high fat diet for 12 weeks gained less weight than those who did not consume lemon.
In 2016, 84 premenopausal Korean women with a high body mass index (BM) followed a lemon detox diet or another diet for 7 days. Those who followed the lemon detox diet experienced greater improvements in insulin resistance, body fat, BMI, body weight, and waist-hip ratio than those on the other diets.
■ VITAMIN C
Vitamin C is an esential nutrient and an antioxidant.
If a person does not consume enough vitamin C, they will develop a deficiency, which is known as scurvy. It is rare in the United States, but it can affect people who do not have a varied diet.
Symptoms can start to appear within a month of not consuming vitamin C, and they include:
● Malaise (a feeling of being unwell)
● Inflammation of the gums or bleeding gums
● red patches on the skin due to due to blood vessels breaking beneath the surface
● joint pain
● slow wound healing
● Loosening of teeth
Many of these happen when the connective tissues weaken due to the lack of vitamin C.
Since vitamin C helps the body absorb iron, people who are deficient in iron may also develop anemia.
■ PREVENT KIDNEY STONES
Kidney stones are small lumps that form when waste products crystallize and build up in your kidneys. There are quite common, and people who get them often get them repeatedly.
Citric acid may help prevent kidney stones by increasing urine volume and increasing urine pH, creating a less favorable environment for kidney stone formation.
Just a 1/2-cup (4ounces or 125 ml) of lemon juice per day may provide enough citric acid to help prevent stone formation in people who have already had them.
Some studies also found that lemonade effectively prevented kidney stones, but the results have been mixed. Other studies have shown no effect.
Lemon juice may help prevent kidney stones. However, more quality research is needed.
■ PROTECT AGAINST ANEMIA
Iron deficiency anemia is quite common. It occurs when you don’t get enough iron from the foods you get. Lemons contain some iron, but they primarily prevent anemia by improving your absorption of iron from plant foods.
Your gut absorbs iron from meat, chicken, and fish (known-heme iron) very easily, while iron from plant sources (non-heme iron) not as easily. However, this absorption can be improved by consuming vitamin C and citric acid.
Because lemons contain both vitamin C and citric acid, they may protect against anemia by ensuring that you absorb as much iron as possible from your diet.
Lemons contain vitamin C and citric acid, which help you absorb non-heme iron from plants. This may prevent anemia.
■ REDUCE CANCER RISK
A healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help prevent some cancers. Some observational studies have found that people who eat the most citrus fruit have a lower risk of cancer, while other studies have found no effects.
In test-tube studies, many compounds from lemons have killed cancer cells. However, they may not have the same effect on human body.
Some researchers think that plant compounds found in lemons – such as limonene and naringenin – could have anticancer effects, but this hypothesis needs further investigation.
Animal studies indicate the D-limonene, a compound found in lemon oil, does have anticanter properties. Another study used pulp from mandarin that contained the plant compounds beta-cryptoxanthin and hesperidin, which are also found in lemons.
The study discovered that these compounds prevented malignant tumors from developing in the tongues, lungs, and colons of rodents.
However, it should be noted that the research team used a very high dose of the chemicals – far more than you would get by eating lemons or oranges.
■ IMPROVE DIGESTIVE HEALTH
Lemons are made up of about 10% carbs, mostly in the form of soluble fiber and simple sugars.
The main fiber in lemons is pectin, a form of soluble fiber linked to multiple health benefits. Soluble fiber can improve gut health and slow the digestion of sugars and starches. These effects may result in reduced blood sugar levels.
However, to get the benefits of fiber from lemons, you need to eat the pulp. People who drink lemon juice, without the fiber found in the pulp, we miss out on the benefits of the fiber.
The soluble fiber in lemons could help improve digestive health. However, you need to eat the pulp of the lemon, not the juice.
■ PROMOTES HYDRATION
According to the Food and Nutrition Board, general guidelines say that women should get at least 91 ounces per day and men should get at less 125 ounces. This includes water from food and drinks.
Water is the best beverage for hydration, but some people don’t like the taste of its own. Adding lemon enhances water’s flavor, which may help you drink more.
■ IT’S A GOOD SOURCE OF VITAMIN C
Citrus fruits like lemons are high in vitamin C, a primary antioxidant that helps protect cell from damaging free radicals. You’ve probably heard that vitamin C may help prevent or limit the duration of the common cold in some people, but studies are conflicting.
Vitaminc C may reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, and lower blood pressure.
While lemons don’t top the list of citrus fruits high in vitamin C, they’re still a good source . According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the juice of ine lemon provides about 18.6 milligrams of vitamin C. The recommended daily amount for adults is 65 to 90 milligrams.
■ IT IMPROVES YOUR SKIN QUALITY
Vitamin C found in lemons may help reduce skin wrinkling, dry skin from aging, and damage from the sun. How water improves skin is controvercial, but one thing is certain. If your skin loses moisture, it becomes dry and prone to wrinkles.
A 2016 laboratory study showed that a citrus-based drink helped prevent the development of wrinkles in hairless mice.
■ IT AIDS DIGESTION
Some people drink lemon water as a daily morning laxative to help prevent constipation. Drinking warm or hot lemon water when you wake up may help get your digestive system moving.
Ayurvedic medicine says the sour lemon taste helps stimulate your “agni.” In ayurvedic medicine, a strong agni jump-starts the digestive system, allowing you to digest food more easily and helping to prevent the buildup of toxins.
■ LOWERING STROKE RISK
According to a 2012 study, the flavonoid in citrus fruits may help lower the risk of ischemic stroke in women.
A study of data from nearly 70,000 women over 14 years showed that those who ate the most citrus fruits had a 19% lower risk of ischemic stroke than women who consumes the least.
Ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke. It can happen when the blood clot blocks the flow of blood tomthe brain.
A 2019 population study showed that long term, regular consumption of foods that contain flavonoids might help protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease. However, the study indicated that people who smoked or consumed a lot of alcohol were less likely to benefits.
Potassium may help lower the risk of stroke.
■ BLOOD PRESSURE
One 2014 study found that women in Japan who walked regularly and consumed lemon every day had lower blood pressure than those who did not.
More research is needed to identify the role of lemon in this improvement and to discover whether consuming lemon can help reduce blood pressure since walking daily can also lower blood pressure.
■ CANCER PREVENTION
Lemons and lemon juice are an excellent source of antioxidant vitamin C.
Antioxidants may help prevent free radicals from causing cell damage that can lead to cancer. However, exactly how antioxidants can help prevent cancer remains unclear.
■ MAINTAINING A HEALTHY COMPLEXION
Vitamin C plays a vital role in the formation of collagen, the support system of the skin.
Sun exposure, pollution, age, and other factors can result in skin damage. A 2014 mouse study suggested that either eating vitamin C in its natural form or applying it topically can help prevent this type of damge.
■ PREVENTING ASTHMA
People with asthma who consume higher amount of vitamin C and other nutrients when they have a cold may experience fewer asthma attacks, according to one review.
The authors found evidence that vitamin C also benefitted people with bronchial hypersensitivity when they also had a common cold.
■INCREASING IRON ABSORPTION
Iron deficiency is leading cause of anemia. Pairing foods that are high in vitamin C with iron-rich foods minimizes the body’s ability to absorb iron.
However, a high intake of vitamin C can trigger gastrointestinal problems in people who are taking iron supplements. For this reason, it is best to obtain iron from dietary sources, such as beef liver, lentils, raisins, dried beans, animal meats, and spinach.
Squeezing a little lemon juice onto a salad containing baby spinach leaves can help maximize the intake of both iron and vitamin C.
■ BOOSTING THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
Foods that are high in vitamin C and other antioxidants may help strengthen the immune system against the germs that cause the common cold and the flu.
One review found that, while vitamin C supplements do not appear the reduce the incidence of colds in a population, they may help reduce the length of time a cold lasts. Vitamin C may also help boost immunity in people who are undergoing extreme physical activity.
Squeezing a whole lemon into a glass of hot water with a large spoonful of honey makes a soothing drink for someone with a cough or cold
■ IT FRESHENS BREATH
Have you ever rubbed a lemon on your hands to get rid of the smell of garlic or some other strong odor? The same folk remedy may apply to bad breath cause by eating foods with strong smells such as garlic, onions, or fish.
You might avoid bad breath by drinking a glass of lemon water after meals and first thing in the morning. Lemon is thought to stimulate saliva and water also helps prevent a dry mouth, which can lead to bad breath caused by bacteria.
Not only are lemons a very healthy fruit, but they also have a distinct, pleasant taste and smell that make them a great addition to foods and drinks.
References: healthline.com / medicalnewatoday.com / wikipedia.com