Nutritional Benefits of Lemon

What is Lemon?

The Lemon, Citrus limon, is a species of a small evergreen tree in the flowering plant family Rutaceae, native to South Asia, primarily Northeastern India.

Lemonade, made with lemon, sugar, and water, is a popular warm-weather beverage, and the juice itself is commonly added to tea. Citric acid may amount to 5 percent or more by weight of the lemon’s juice, which is also rich in vitamin C and contains smaller amounts of B vitamins, particularly thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin.

Where Do Lemons Originate?

The lemon was introduced into Spain and North Africa sometime between the years 1000 and 1200 CE. It was further distributed through Europe by the Crusaders, who found it growing in Palestine. In 1494 the fruit was being cultivated in the Azores and shipped largely to England. The lemon was thought by 18th-century Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus to be a variety of citron (Citrus medica), though it is now known to be a separate hybrid species.

What is a Lemon Made Of?

The lemon plant forms an evergreen spreading bush or small tree, 3–6 meters (10–20 feet) high if not pruned. Its young oval leaves have a decidedly reddish tint; later they turn green.

In some varieties the young branches of the lemon are angular; some have sharp thorns at the axils of the leaves.

The flowers have a sweet odor and are solitary or borne in small clusters in the axils of the leaves. Reddish-tinted in the bud, the petals are usually white above and reddish-purple below.

The fruit is oval with a broad, low, apical nipple and forms 8 to 10 segments. The outer rind, or peel, yellow when ripe and rather thick in some varieties, is prominently dotted with oil glands.

The white spongy inner part of the peel, called the mesocarp or albedo, is nearly tasteless and is the chief source of commercial grades of pectin. The seeds are small, ovoid, and pointed; occasionally fruits are seedless. The pulp is decidedly acidic.

Nutritional Facts of Lemon

One lemon weighing 58 grams (g) contains

  • energy: 16.8 calories (kcal)
  • carbohydrates: 5.41 g, of which 1.45 g are sugars
  • calcium 15.1 milligrams (mg)
  • iron: 0.35 mg
  • magnesium: 4.6 mg
  • phosphorus: 9.3 mg
  • potassium: 80 mg
  • selenium: 0.2 micrograms (mcg)
  • vitamin C: 30.7 mg
  • folate: 6.4 mcg
  • choline: 3.0 mg
  • vitamin A: 0.6 mcg
  • lutein + zeaxanthin: 6.4 mcg

Current dietary guidelines recommend an intake of 75 mg of vitamin C per day for women aged 19 years and older and 90 mg per day for men.

Smokers need 35 mg per day more than nonsmokers.

Lemons also contain small amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, pantothenic acid, copper, and manganese.

Nutritional Benefits of Lemon

1. It 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 least 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 it on its own. Adding lemon enhances water’s flavor, which may help you drink more.

2. It’s a Good Source of Vitamin C

Citrus fruits like lemons are high in vitamin C, a primary antioxidant that helps protect cells 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.

Vitamin C may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease 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 one lemon provides about 18.6 milligrams of vitamin C. The recommended daily amount for adults is 65 to 90 milligrams.

3. It Supports Weight Loss

Research has shown that polyphenol antioxidants found in lemons significantly reduce 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 in the development of type 2 diabetes.

In 2016, 84 premenopausal Korean women with a high body mass index (BMI) 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.

While the same results need to be proven in humans, anecdotal evidence is strong that lemon water supports weight loss. Whether this is due to people simply drinking more water and feeling full or the lemon juice itself is unclear.

4. 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 controversial, 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.

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 damage.

5. 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.

6. 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 caused 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.

7. It Helps Prevent Kidney Stones

The citric acid in lemons may help prevent kidney stones. Citrate, a component of citric acid, paradoxically makes urine less acidic and may even break up small stones. Drinking lemon water not only gets you citrate, but also the water you need to help prevent or flush out stones.

8. Lowering Stroke Risk

According to a 2012 study, the flavonoids 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 consumed the least.

Ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke. It can happen when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood to the 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 benefit.

9. 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.

10. Cancer Prevention

Lemons and lemon juice are an excellent source of the 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.

11. Preventing Asthma

People with asthma who consume higher amounts of vitamin C and other nutrients when they have a cold may experience fewer asthma attacks, according to one review.

It was found evidence that vitamin C also benefitted people with bronchial hypersensitivity when they also had a common cold.

12 Increasing Iron Absorption

Iron deficiency is a leading cause of anemia. Pairing foods that are high in vitamin C with iron-rich foods 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.

13. 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.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient and an antioxidant.

Scurvy

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:

  • fatigue
  • malaise (a feeling of being unwell)
  • inflammation of the gums or bleeding gums
  • red patches on the skin due to blood vessels breaking beneath the surface
  • joint pain
  • slow wound healing
  • loosening of teeth
  • depression

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.

Risks

  • Lemons have a high acid content, so their juice may affect people with mouth ulcers: It can cause a stinging sensation.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): It can worsen symptoms, such as heartburn and regurgitation.When it comes to heartburn, lemon water can go either way. Citric acid may cause heartburn in some people. Others experience relief from heartburn, as lemon juice becomes alkaline, reducing acidity in digestion. Only experimenting can tell its effect on you.
  • Lemon contains citric acid, which may erode tooth enamel. To limit the risk, drink lemon water through a straw, and rinse your mouth with plain water afterward.
  • Some people report more frequent trips to the bathroom when drinking lemon water. Although vitamin C is often believed to be a diuretic, something that increases the amount of urine you produce, the evidence doesn’t show that vitamin C from natural sources like lemons has diuretic effects.

If you experience the need for extra bathroom breaks while drinking lemon water, it’s more than likely caused by increased water intake.

How to make lemon water

In order to reap any health benefits of lemon water, you need to drink it consistently, and you need more than just a single wedge of lemon in your mug.

When making lemon water, always use fresh lemons rather than artificial lemon from a bottle.

To make lemon water, squeeze half a lemon into 8 ounces of warm or cold water. To make the drink as healthy as possible, use filtered water and organic lemons.

Infuse more flavor or add a health boost to lemon water by adding:

  • a few springs of mint
  • a teaspoon of maple syrup or raw honey
  • a slice of fresh ginger
  • a dash of cinnamon
  • a sprinkle of turmeric

You can also add slices of other fresh citrus fruits such as limes and oranges, or cucumber slices. Always wash the produce well before slicing and using.

Having lemon ice cubes on hand is a great way to add lemon to your water fast. Simply squeeze the fresh lemon juice into ice cube trays and freeze. Drop a few cubes into a glass of cold or hot water as needed.

You can start your morning with a mug of warm lemon water, and keep a pitcher of water infused with a few sliced lemons in your refrigerator to drink throughout the day.

Let us know in the comment:

1. How do you use lemon? Do you drink lemon water? If so, how often?

2. What are the other uses of lemon that you experienced that are not listed here?

3. What health benefits do you gain from using lemon?

 

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REFERENCES:

https://www.britannica.com/plant/lemon                                                  https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/283476#risks                                                    https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/benefits-of-lemon-water

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