What Are Lemons Good For?

Legendary Lemons
Botanical name: Citrus limon

Lemon Nutrition Facts

As one of the most popular citrus fruits in history, it may come as a surprise that lemons did not arise on their own. In fact, they’re the natural hybrid of the citron and the bitter orange. While it is widely believed that lemons originated from the Himalayan region of India, their exact origin has proven to be elusive to this day.1

The introduction of lemons to America and Europe was due to the Spanish and the Portuguese, who brought seeds with them. After hundreds of years, lemons are now one of the world's most widely consumed tropical fruits.2

Lemon trees thrive in tropical and subtropical climates, although large-scale cultivation should be kept in subtropical regions to limit tree diseases and pests. Lemon trees also don’t do well in cold climates because of the fruit’s low sugar content, making them more prone to freezing.

In cuisine, lemon juice and its rind are often added to recipes to add a distinct tangy and tart flavor. Its juice may also be added to water for a refreshing drink. Aside from culinary applications, lemon flowers and twigs are used to produce an essential oil that can be used for flavoring and perfumery.3

Health Benefits of Lemons

It probably comes as no surprise that lemons are loaded with vitamin C, with each 100-gram serving giving you about 53 milligrams.4 This lends the lemon its immune-boosting properties, giving you one step ahead of infections and the common cold.5 Teamed with flavonoid glycosides called hesperidin and naringenin (found in most citrus fruits), the combination may provide a shield against numerous cardiovascular and chronic inflammatory diseases due to their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and analgesic abilities.6,7

Lemons are a good source of potassium, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium. In trace amounts, thiamin, riboflavin and zinc are also found in these citrus fruits.8

Lemon’s citric acid content aids in digestion and helps reduce the risk of kidney stones by binding calcium in the urine,9 while the ascorbic acid is a natural antioxidant that fights the sailor's dread — scurvy.10,11 Lemons also contain various flavonoids and antioxidants that have neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.12

Lemon juice is often revered to be nutrient-dense, but this may be dramatically different if what you’re consuming is processed instead of fresh, raw juice. In fact, bottled lemon juice and other processed fruit juices are not as healthy as they seem and contain high amounts of fructose and potentially dangerous additives.

If for some reason you can’t get your hands on some lemons, try limes instead. Limes and lemons are believed to be quite similar in nutrition and health benefits.13 They’re also both great for juicing, which is the perfect way to say no to those high-fructose processed fruit juices on the market.

Lemons Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 3.5 ounces (100 grams), raw, without peel
  Amt. Per
Serving
% Daily
Value*
Calories 29  
Total Fat 0 g  
Saturated Fat 0.30 g  
Trans Fat    
Cholesterol 0 mg  
Sodium 2 mg  
Total Carbohydrates 9.32 g  
Dietary Fiber 2.8 g  
Sugar 2.5 g  
Protein 1.1 g  
Vitamin A 22 IU Vitamin C 53.0 mg
Calcium 26 mg Iron 0.60 mg

Studies Done on Lemons

Consuming lemons has been linked to hepatoprotective activities, as well as blood pressure and insulin sensitivity improvement. In a 2015 study, researchers noted that going on a lemon detox program may significantly help reduce body fat and resolve insulin resistance. This was taken from the participants’ measurements of insulin sensitivity, serum adipokines levels and inflammatory markers, which showed greater improvement when compared to the placebo group.14

Aside from its effects on weight regulation, lemons may promote liver health. A 2017 animal study from Biomed Research International showed that lemon juice therapy may help curb alcohol-induced liver damage by improving histopathological responses of the body. The antioxidant properties of lemon juice is also a contributing factor for its hepatoprotective characteristics.15

Lemon Healthy Recipes:
Halibut Baked with Butter and Lemon

Lemon Healthy Recipes

Ingredients:

2 pounds wild halibut fillet or Alaskan salmon/scallops

1 lemon, juiced

1 tablespoon raw grass fed butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Procedure:

  1. Place halibut or salmon in a baking dish. Pour in lemon juice and add butter, salt and pepper.
  2. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes on 350 degrees Fahrenheit until fish is opaque.
  3. Remove from oven and garnish with lemon slices. This recipe makes four servings.

(From “Healthy Recipes for Your Nutritional Type” by Dr. Mercola)

Lemons Fun Facts

While the lemon is famous in the culinary world, it can also be employed for cleaning purposes. It is often used as a natural bleaching agent and as a stain remover.17 Its refreshing scent also makes it a good choice for a natural deodorizer.16

Summary

This cheery yellow fruit with an ancient history is revered, perhaps equally, for both its health advantages and its culinary properties. Who doesn't like lemonade and the bright, fresh flavor lemons add to so many dishes? Free radical protection, immune system regulation and inflammation relief are just a few of the many nutritional advantages offered by lemons. However, their lack of calories may be another reason they're so popular.

As for the vitamins and minerals, lemons come with infection-fighting vitamin C,18 as well as potassium, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium.19 Just think — the antioxidants and flavonoids you get in the lemons you eat today are probably descended directly from the lemon seeds the Spanish and the Portuguese brought ages ago!