When life gives you lemons… you’re in luck. This citrus fruit is packed with minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. Lemons are especially rich in nutrients that have been associated with numerous health benefits.
Lemon is one of the most common acid citrus fruits in the world. While its origin is unknown, horticulturists theorize they come from Northern India. It grows throughout East Asia, the Middle East, and Southern Europe. This widely popular fruit is available during any season, but it peaks in summer. It’s a versatile ingredient that you can turn into a refreshing lemonade, eat in slices, or garnish food with.
Whether you’re getting it from a local farmer, your nearest grocery store, or your backyard, be sure to take advantage of this yellow fruit. Research shows it may help lower the risk of kidney stones, heart disease, and even cancer.
Lemons have a high concentration of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and plant compounds called limonins. According to the World’s Healthiest Foods, a quarter cup of lemon juice contains two percent of the recommended daily intake of potassium, three percent of folate, and 31 percent of vitamin C – all for about 13 calories. An entire fruit has 22 calories and 139 percent of the recommended daily vitamin C intake.
Recent reports show that lemons can increase the bioaccessibility of carotenoids during the digestive process. This beneficial phytonutrient, which is known to aid in fighting various diseases, has low bioavailability and bioaccessibility. This means even if you eat a carotenoid-rich food like broccoli and carrots, your body can only access a small percentage of this compound.
As it turns out, lemons can be an effective exigent food. In addition to their own nutritional properties, adding lemon juice to your salad or mashed carrots can unleash more nutrients for your body to absorb.
Prevent Kidney Stones
Lemons and limes contain the highest amount of citric acid than any other fruit. This compound can deter stone formation and pulverize small stones that are forming. The more citric acid you have in your urine, the less likely you will suffer from kidney stones. The citric acid content of pharmacological therapy is the same in a half cup of pure lemon juice or 32 ounces of lemonade.
Improve Heart Health
Folic acid is a staple nutrient for pregnant women for its benefits in preventing birth defects, but a new study reveals that more people should add this vitamin in their diet as well. Researchers say a daily dose of folic acid could lower a person’s risk of stroke and heart disease by about 20 percent. It boosts your cardiovascular health by reducing homocysteine levels – a factor that can lead to hardening of the arteries and dangerous blood clots.
There is mounting evidence that proves limonin aid in lowering cholesterol levels. This plant compound is found in the lemon juice. In an analysis of men and women who were given vitamin E and limonin daily for a month, results show a 20 to 30 percent decrease in their cholesterol levels. Researchers theorize that limonin decreases apolipoprotein B, a substance linked with higher cholesterol.
Vitamin C plays a role in improving your heart health. According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, those who had the highest vitamin C intake had a significantly lower risk of developing heart disease. Its cardiovascular benefits come from its ability to lower bad LDL cholesterol and keep the arteries flexible.
Encourage Weight Loss
Lemon water has become a trend with today’s dieters. Indeed, lemons make for a tasty and refreshing add-on to any drink or food. In a 2017 study conducted by Scientific Reports, juice-based diets that have lemon extract as a primary ingredient helped improve the intestinal microbiota of the participants. This helped them lose weight more effectively. In addition, the decrease in the oxidation of their lipids and the increase of their vasodilator nitric oxide resulted in better overall wellbeing.
The peels are also rich in nutrients. Consider blending them into soups or smoothies. Grating them and adding to salads, fish or chicken dishes is another way to enjoy them. However, medical professionals advice against using lemon peels as a magic bullet for weight loss and detoxing. After all, too much of something can lead to adverse effects.
Fight Pathogenic Bacteria
Lemons have antimicrobial properties that fight against staphylococcus, salmonella, and other disease-causing bacteria. Research also shows that fermented sweet lemon juice can protect your from E. coli bacteria.
According to the National Cancer Institute, high exposure to aflatoxins is linked to liver cancer. These carcinogens are found in contaminated nuts. In a 2017 study, researchers from Food Control saw that lemon juice may prevent exposure to contaminated nuts. When roasted in 15 ml of lemon juice, 30 ml of water, and 2.25 g of citric acid at 120 degrees Celsius for an hour, the level of aflatoxin B1 in pistachio nuts significantly lowers to a safer level.
Decrease Cancer Risk
Scientists found out that limonins may reduce cancer risk. In an article published in the Journal of Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics, limonins are revealed to aid in chemotherapy and fight breast cancer. An analysis of lemon extract by the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer also proved its ability to induce death in breast cancer cells. The extract was applied in-vitro, but the outcomes suggest the powerful cancer-reducing properties of lemons.
There are also various studies being made to understand the role folate plays in preventing cancer growth. One report notes that this nutrient’s possible cancer-fighting properties are likely associated with its role in the production of substances that silence cancer DNA. Folate may help individuals with low folate status and protect them early in carcinogenesis.
As an excellent source of vitamin C, folic acid, and other healthy compounds, lemons can boost your immune system and help your body absorb other nutrients better. Watch your daily intake as consuming them in excess may result in gastric reflux problems or heartburn. Whichever way you consume it, you’re sure to enjoy its distinct flavor and aroma.