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Lemons are citrus fruits whose scientific name is simply citrus lemon. Lemons are native to parts of Asia such as India and Myanmar. Today, however, lemons are grown worldwide in warm, humid climates. Lemons have a tart, citrusy flavor that, when eaten whole, will indeed cause you to pucker. Although lemons are sometimes discounted as a garnish or finishing touch, they’re actually perfect for your health. Loaded with tons of vitamin C and packed with antioxidants in addition to other important nutrients, lemons shouldn’t be counted out. Instead, you should make a point of incorporating lemon juice into your meals and beverages. Check out why.
Important Note: Each of the claims listed below about the health benefits of eating lemons is supported by the most current research at the time of this publication.
Aid in Heart Health
A well-known fact is that lemons are packed with vitamin C, a nutrient essential to heart health. In fact, one serving of lemon juice provides you with more than 50% of the daily recommended value of vitamin C. Multiple scientific studies indicate that a vitamin C-rich diet significantly reduces your risk for cardiovascular disease. In addition to lemons’ vitamin C content, this citrus fruit is also rich in plant compounds and fiber, both of which are also connected to heart health. Notably, one study concluded that daily citrus fiber consumption reduced overall cholesterol levels after one month of usage. Lastly, two plant compounds found in lemons, specifically hesperidin and diosmin, are linked to lowering cholesterol which is a risk factor for heart disease.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. Inevitably, lemons contain the necessary nutrients to help you maintain optimal heart health.
Good for Weight Management
A second benefit of including lemon in your diet is that it’s good for weight management. A couple of theories exist as to why lemon helps in this facet of your overall health. For one, the soluble pectin fiber found in lemons helps your gut to dilate which in turn leads to an extended feeling of fullness; the longer feeling of satiety will help you to avoid snacking on unnecessary, excess calories. Another possibility is that because water is often sipped with freshly squeezed lemon juice, the water, which is known to help you burn calories, will lead to weight loss. Other theories posit that the plant compounds and polyphenols found in lemon juice are the onus for weight loss and management.
General Consensus: 3.5/5 and here is why. Although several studies draw a connection between lemon intake and weight management, there’s little agreement on what specific nutrient to credit for such a benefit.
Prevent Kidney Stones
One surprising benefit of including lemons in your diet is that they may help you avoid painful kidney stones. Kidney stones are small crystallized lumps of waste that have to be painfully excreted by passing through the narrow canals of the ureters, thus passing kidney stones. Lemon juice is useful in inhibiting the formation of kidney stones; the citric acid in lemons not only increases urine volume but also creates a flawed environment for the growth of kidney stones. Research has deduced that the consumption of only ½ a cup of citric acid per day reduces your risk for the development of kidney stones.
General Consensus: 3/5 and here is why. There are a handful of compelling studies touting the benefits of lemon juice for kidney stone prevention, however, more research is needed.
A lemon-rich diet has also proven effective in staving off episodes of anemia. Anemia is defined as an iron deficiency that may be combated by consuming lemon juice. Not only does lemon juice contain traces of iron, an antidote to anemia, but it also aids in the absorption of iron from other food sources; specifically the vitamin C and citric acid content in lemons is responsible for this effect. Together, these nutrients ensure optimal iron absorption.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. A respectable number of studies uphold the notion that lemon juice can prevent anemia.
Reduces Risk of Some Cancer Types
Remarkably, regular lemon juice consumption has anticarcinogenic properties. Some studies suggest that subjects who eat a citrus-rich diet have the lowest risk of a cancer diagnosis. Scientists believe that plant compounds such as limonene and naringenin have cancer-killing effects; some test-tube studies have shown promise in their ability to kill cancer cells. Furthermore, animal studies reveal that the D-limonene in lemons has anticancer properties.
General Consensus: 2.5/5 and here is why. While test tube and animal studies posit that the compounds found in lemons have anticancer effects, human studies are needed to state this claim with confidence. Moreover, the studies that do exist suggest that much higher concentrations of said compounds are required than are reasonably consumed in your daily diet.
Lemon juice contains high concentrations of vitamin C as do other citrus fruits. It’s a well-known fact that vitamin C is essential to your immune system’s health. While it’s true you can meet your immune system’s vitamin C requirement through the intake of more palatable fruits such as oranges, lemons contain fewer calories and sugars than many of the alternatives. Furthermore, lemons are rife with antioxidative plant compounds which, like your immune system, help to stave off illness.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. Without a doubt, the vitamin C and antioxidant content in lemons are invaluable when it comes to your immune system.
Good for Digestive Health
Finally, lemon juice contains properties that may help to improve your digestive health. Lemons contain the soluble fiber pectin which is linked to several benefits, however, concerning digestion, it improves gut health while improving the digestive process. Not only do both of these effects have positive implications on overall digestive health, but they may even improve blood sugar levels. The only catch to this health benefit is that you have to eat the lemon pulp which is not the most palatable portion of this fruit.
General Consensus: 4/5 and here is why. Undoubtedly, the fiber found in the lemon pulp can be beneficial to digestive health, however, simply drinking lemon juice will not provide this same benefit.
Unlikely Benefits: Further Research Needed
Protects Brain Health
General Consensus: 1/5 and here is why. In one animal study, lemon juice showed positive effects on brain health; this, however, is a far cry from evidence that lemons protect the certainly brain.