The lemon is one powerful fruit! Rich in antioxidants and plant compounds, lemons can protect your heart, increase good (HDL) cholesterol, lower your blood pressure, protect against cancer, and help control blood sugar. The vitamin C in lemons helps boost your immune system and helps neutralize free radicals in your body. And your body can’t store vitamin C, so you need to be sure to get your daily requirement.
Here are some of the other ways lemons contribute to good health—plus a couple notes of caution.
Heart disease is the most common form of death worldwide. Consumption of fruits high in vitamin C, like lemons, has been linked to reduced heart disease.
Vitamin C also contributes to lower incidences of stroke, especially among people who are overweight or have high blood pressure. However, people who drink or smoke heavily are less likely to enjoy the added benefits of vitamin C.
The flavonoids in lemons may help reduce women’s risk of ischemic stroke.
The fiber in lemons can help decrease blood cholesterol levels, and the essential oils in lemons (in the peel) can help fight LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Kidney Stone Prevention
Anyone who’s had a kidney stone is probably now a regular consumer of citrus. The citric acid in lemons deters the formation of kidney stones and helps break up stones that have already begun forming.
Anemia is iron deficiency. It’s most common in pre-menopausal women. Now, lemons don’t have much iron, but they’re a great source of vitamin C and citric acid—and citric acid does a great job of helping the body absorb iron from other foods.
Studies have linked lemons to a possible reduction in the risk of many types of cancer, including breast cancer. Researchers think this may be due to plant compounds, like hesperidin and d-limonene, which are found in lemons.
Lemons contain soluble fiber, so drinking lemon-boosted water may help people feel full sooner and resist cravings. Lemon juice is a frequent stand-in for salt, which is often limited in weight loss plans. And lemon zest adds flavor to dishes without adding calories.
A lot of people like to start their day with a tall glass of cool lemon water or a steaming mug of hot lemon water.
- Cool lemon water: Squeeze the juice from half or a whole lemon into a cup of water. Drink and repeat.
- Hot lemon water: Cut a lemon in half. Put one slice in the bottom of a mug. Squeeze the remaining halves into the mug. Pour hot water in to fill the mug. Nutritionists recommend you drink this about a half hour before breakfast.
Lemons have high levels of soluble dietary fiber. That’s great news for people who occasionally experience constipation or suffer from other gastrointestinal issues. And the pectins in lemon pulp feed the friendly bacteria in your digestive system.
Aromatherapy may be helpful. The scent of lemon’s essential oils may decrease stress and improve your mood.
Folate is essential for the healthy development of babies in order to prevent neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. Prenatal vitamins include folate (also called vitamin B9), but lemons are a great natural source of this essential vitamin.
The vitamin C in lemons may contribute to healthier skin—reducing the development of wrinkles and contributing to more hydrated skin and fewer blemishes.
As you know, you can have too much of a good thing. While lemons can do some great things for your health—help with the absorption of iron; fight inflammation; boost your immune system—they can also wreak havoc with other parts of your body.
Tough on your teeth
The acidic quality of lemon can eat away at the enamel on your teeth. So, if you decide to have hot lemon water in the morning, you should make it more on the lukewarm side than the scalding side. If your lemon water is lukewarm or cold, try drinking it through a straw so it has less direct contact with your teeth. Wait at least an hour after drinking lemon water before brushing your teeth—but do brush. Lemons also contain a lot of natural sugars—another dental hazard.
For some people, a glass of lemon water can ease the discomfort of indigestion. For others, it may cause heartburn rather than relieve it. How does it work for you? Let us know.
People with dermatitis may experience skin irritation if they come in contact with lemons. And lemons can cause mild to severe allergic reactions in some people.
Getting lemon juice on your skin while the sun is shining can actually give you a chemical burn. The interaction of lemons, limes, and celery with ultraviolet light causes a reaction called phytodermatitis. It can leave a dark patch on your skin; in extreme cases, the reaction can cause second-degree burns. The discoloration of the chemical burn may not show up for a day or two, but you can wind up with brown spots that last for weeks or months.
The lesson here? Wash any fruit residue off your skin before you head outside. And if you’re going to have drinks with lemon outside, do it in the shade.
Lemons and lemon juice can also be handy around the house:
- Cut a lemon in half. Dip the cut side into coarse salt and use it to clean hard water stains from the shower and greasy buildup on pots and pans.
- Put a couple of lemons, cut in half, in the top rack of your dishwasher. Run a regular cycle, with detergent. Your dishwasher will be shiny and clean.
- Cut a lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a glass bowl. Add a cup of water. Put the bowl in your microwave and zap for three minutes on high. Leave the bowl in the microwave for another five to 10 minutes. Remove the bowl and wipe down the inside of the microwave for a fresh, clean look.
- Mix equal parts lemon juice, vinegar, and water in a spray bottle. It may be the only cleaning solution you’ll ever need.
Did you know that lemons are so healthful? Did you know about the potential pitfalls of consuming lemons? What about the household uses? Please tell us how you use lemons.