5 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Lemons

by Apoorva Malhotra
lemon pieces

Now that summer is here; you must be dreaming of sipping on cold and refreshing lemon juice. While the beverage is a treat by itself, it is also a great way to stay healthy. In this post, we will explore the many health benefits of lemons.

Nutrition Facts

Lemons primarily contain water (88% to 89%) and carbohydrates (10%) in the form of simple sugars. Pectin is the main fiber present in lemons. It can bring down blood sugar and slow down the digestive ability of sugar and starch.

About 100 grams of raw, peeled lemons contain:

  • Calories: 29
  • Water: 89%
  • Protein: 1.1 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 9.3 grams
  • Sugar: 2.5 grams
  • Fiber: 2.8 grams
  • Fat: 0.3 grams

Additionally, it contains the following vitamins, minerals, and plant-based compounds that can benefit the body in several ways:

  • Vitamin C
  • Potassium
  • Vitamin B6
  • Citric acid
  • Hesperidin
  • Diosmin
  • Eriocitrin
  • D-limonene

5 Health Benefits of Lemons

Given that lemons are loaded with several vitamins and minerals, it goes without saying that it is good for your health. Let us have a look at the many health benefits of lemons:

Promotes Heart Health

Lemons are the best source of vitamin C. One medium-sized lemon gives about 31mg of Vitamin C, which constitutes about 51% of your reference daily intake (RDI).

Several studies indicate that consuming lemons can reduce the risk of developing heart-related conditions or stroke. Given that heart diseases are one of the leading causes of death around the world, compounds like hesperidin and diosmin enhance the heart-protecting health benefits of lemons.

The isolated fibers present in citric fruits like lemons can lower the blood cholesterol levels. At the same time, the essential oils prevent the oxidation of LDL, or bad cholesterol, particles. 

Helps With Weight Loss and Improves Digestion

The ability to aid weight loss efforts is one of the many well-known health benefits of lemons. A common theory suggests that pectin, a soluble fiber, makes the person feel fuller for longer durations. Animal studies indicate that the plant compounds present in lemon can suppress weight gain and catalyze weight loss in several ways.

In addition to helping with weight loss, lemon can also improve your digestive abilities. Given that lemons are primarily composed of simple sugars and fibers, they are easy on the stomach. The fiber promotes gut health, slows down digestion, and maintain blood sugar levels.

Prevents the Formation of Kidney Stones

When the mineral-based waste products present in the body crystallize and form deposits that are called kidney stones. Anybody who has suffered from kidney stones will know the health benefits of lemons in their case. What is even more frustrating is that one can develop kidney stones repeatedly!

The citric acid present in lemons can help prevent kidney stone formation. As the citric acid in lemon juice increases urine pH and urine volume, the formation of kidney stones gets retarded. Thus, it is advisable to drink about 125mL (or half a cup) of lemon juice every day to prevent the formation of kidney stones.

Protects From Anemia

Anemia arises out of iron deficiency. About 51% of Indian women between the ages of 15 and 49 suffer from anemia, which is the highest in the world! As such, lemons play a vital role in protecting individuals from anemia.

Your gut can easily absorb iron (better known as heme iron) from animal-based foods like meat, fish, and chicken. However, iron (non-heme iron) is not readily available to the body. While lemons do contain some amount of iron, they can significantly improve the body’s ability to absorb iron from plant-based foods. This is due to the presence of citric acid and vitamin C, which helps with the absorption of non-heme iron.

Reduces Risk of Cancer

A healthy and balanced diet may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancers.

Certain observational studies have discovered the relation between eating citric foods and lower risk of cancer. Interestingly, some test-tube studies highlight how certain compounds present in lemon can kill cancer cells. Scientists hypothesize that compounds like limonene and naringenin possess anticancer properties. Moreover, certain animal-based studies have proven the potency of lemon against cancer.

On the other hand, research points out that hesperidin can control malignant tumors and prevent it from developing in the lungs, colon, and tongue. However, these theories are yet to be explored further, especially amongst humans.

Ways to Include Health Benefits of Lemons in Your Diet

The above health benefits of lemons may get you interested in making more use of these tiny yellow fruits. However, given that you cannot directly eat lemons with its peel off, you may need a few express 3-ingredient recipes and other inspirations to include lemons in your diet.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Lemon Smoothie: Blend together yogurt, lemon juice, honey, ginger, and ice cubes. Garnish with lemon zest
  • Lemon Blueberry Muffins: Combine yogurt, eggs, lemon juice, honey, flour (or almond flour), baking powder, baking soda, salt, and blueberries. Bake them for 20-30 minutes.
  • Lemon Rice: Heat some oil in a pan, add mustard seeds, garlic, onions, and peanuts. Add in the cooked rice and saute it lightly. Sprinkle turmeric and stir in some lemon juice. Stir everything until well incorporated.
  • Lemon Vinaigrette: Whisk together lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, Dijon mustard, sea salt, black pepper, and extra virgin olive oil.

The Bottom Line

Given its versatility, you can easily sneak in some lemon zest or lemon juice for a refreshing twist to your food. You can have it in desserts or turn it into cooling beverages. Due to the presence of vitamin C and plant-based bioactive compounds, there are several health benefits of lemons.

However, a small percentage of people have an allergic reaction to its ingestion. Similarly, it could also cause skin irritation upon contact. Further, due to its acidic nature, lemon can damage your tooth enamel. Hence, practice caution while consuming it.

What is your favorite way to consume lemons? Let us know in the comments below!

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