By Dr Magdy Badran, Consultant Ped
Lemons consist mainly of water (88%) and carbs (10%). They contain very little fat and protein. Lemons are high in vitamin C, fiber, and various beneficial plant compounds. In addition, they’re a decent source of B-complex vitamins such as pantothenic acid ( vitamin B5 ) , pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and folates. These nutrients are responsible for several health benefits. Further, they carry a healthy amount of minerals like iron, copper, potassium, and calcium. Potassium in an important component of cell and body fluids helps control heart rate and blood pressure.
The early explorers took lemons first on their long voyages to help prevent or treat scurvy, a serious condition that results from a vitamin C deficiency. In 1747, James Lind found that lemons and oranges were extremely effective at treating the disease, which was common among sailors.
Soluble Fiber Improves Immune Function
The main fiber in lemons is pectin. Soluble fibers like pectin can lower blood sugar levels by slowing down the digestion of sugar and starch. Soluble fibers help healthy gut bacteria thrive and can lead to smooth and regular bowel movements. Dietary fibers are an important part of a healthy diet and linked to numerous health benefits.
The amount of vitamin C in 100g raw lemons, without peel, is 53 mg corresponding to 88% of the vitamin C RDA. The percentage of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin C is based on a 60 mg RDA level for a mature adult. You’ll get more vitamin C from lemon peel – 129mg per 100g of peel – than from eating a whole peeled lemon.
Vitamin C plays an important role in a number of bodily functions. It is necessary for the growth, development and repair of all body tissues. It plays an essential role in the synthesis and supporting the stability of collagen molecules. Vitamin C reduces risk of death from all causes including heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Vitamin C is a potent reducing and antioxidant agent that functions in fighting bacterial infections, detoxifying reactions, preventing or delaying certain cancers and promoting healthy aging. It appears to regenerate other antioxidants in the body, too.
Vitamin C plays an important part in our immune function by improving the activity of some immune cells such as ‘natural killer cells’ and also allowing our immune system to communicate and coordinate its attack against invaders .Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine used by millions to reduce allergy symptoms.
Vitamin C protects the nervous system which leads to emotional stability, better memory, a sense of calm, decrease in anxiety, higher IQ, and improved academic performance.
Lemons Support Heart Health
Research shows that eating fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. Lemons are high in heart-healthy vitamin C and several beneficial plant compounds that may lower cholesterol.
Vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant that helps in neutralizing free radicals and eliminate harmful toxins from the body. As a result, the blood is cleansed and the heart and blood vessels can remain strong and well-functioning as they are not burdened down with heavy toxins. Vitamin C is also helpful in lowering and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. High cholesterol levels are one of the risk factors for developing all kinds of problems of the heart and circulatory system.
Plant compounds found in lemons — namely hesperidin and diosmin — have also been found to lower cholesterol .The fiber and plant compounds in lemons could also significantly lower some risk factors for heart disease .
Sorry, Lemon Water will not Help you Lose Weight
Lemons are often promoted as a weight loss food, and there are a few theories as to why this is. One common theory is that the soluble pectin fiber in them expands in your stomach, helping you feel full for longer. That said, not many people eat lemons whole. And because lemon juice contains no pectin, lemon juice drinks will not promote fullness in the same way.
Another theory suggests that drinking hot water with lemon will help you lose weight. However, drinking water is known to temporarily increase the number of calories you burn, so it may be the water itself that is helping with weight loss — not the lemon .Other theories suggest that the plant compounds in lemons may aid weight loss. However, no studies confirm the weight loss effects of lemon compounds in humans. Drinking lemon water does nothing more than hydrate your body and provide vitamin C.
There is currently no evidence to suggest that lemon water has a detoxing effect on the body. The liver is responsible for eliminating toxins from everything we eat, drink and are exposed to in our environment, so no amount of lemon water is going to ‘detox’ our bodies.
Lemonade Therapy for Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are quite common, and people who get them often get them repeatedly. They form when urine in the kidney becomes supersaturated with stone-forming salts and when the urine doesn’t contain enough stone-preventing substances. One of these substances is citrate. Citric acid may help prevent kidney stones by increasing urine volume and increasing urine pH, creating a less favourable environment for kidney stone formation. Lemons are among the best sources of citric acid, which is why lemon juice can often be used as a substitute for this ingredient. Each ounce of lemon juice has about 1.5 grams of citric acid.
Lemons Protect Against Anaemia
Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in developed countries and a leading cause of anaemia. It occurs when you don’t get enough iron from the foods you eat. Because lemons contain both vitamin C and citric acid, they may protect against anaemia by ensuring that you absorb as much iron as possible from your diet.
Pairing foods that are high in vitamin C with foods that are iron-rich maximizes the body’s ability to absorb iron. Squeezing a little lemon juice atop a salad with these ingredients can help maximize the intake of iron as well as vitamin C.
Boosting the Immune System
Foods that are high in vitamin C and other antioxidants may help strengthen the immune system against the germs that cause cold and flu. One study has indicated that, while vitamin C supplements do not appear the reduce the incidence of colds in a population, they may help reduce the duration of a cold. Vitamin C may also help boost immunity in people who are undergoing extreme physical activity. Squeezing a whole lemon into a glass of hot water with a large spoonful of honey makes a soothing drink for someone a cough or cold.
The peel of a lemon consists of two layers: the outer zest and a white inner layer, the pith. Surprisingly, it’s this zest and pith which contain significant levels of valuable antioxidants, more in fact, than lemon juice itself. The zest also contains essential oils – the most common of which is called limonene. Lemon peels contain 5-10 times more vitamins than lemon juice. The antioxidants present in lemon peel can flush out the harmful toxins and free radicals from the body, thereby improving your immunity.
Lemons Reduce Cancer Risk
A healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help prevent some cancers. Some observational studies have found that people who eat the most citrus fruit have a lower risk of cancer .In animal studies and laboratory tests with human cells, compounds in citrus fruits, including lemons and limes have been shown to help fight cancers of the mouth, skin, lung, breast, stomach and colon. Animal studies indicate that D-limonene, a compound found in lemon oil, does have anticancer properties.
Naringenin belongs to flavanone class of flavonoids, and it is mainly found in citrus fruits including, lemon, orange, tangerine and grapefruit .Several biological activities have been ascribed to this phytochemical, among them antioxidant, antitumor, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective effects. Nonetheless, most of the data reported have been obtained from in vitro or in vivo studies. Some clinical studies have also been performed and the currently available data are very promising.
How to Eat Lemons
Lemon is used as a food and flavouring ingredient. While you can eat lemon raw the way you might an orange, the high acidity level may bother your teeth or stomach. There are other popular ways of eating lemon, and they usually involve adding the juice or rind to drinks, baking, and other dishes. You can either eat the lemons plain, with sugar, or you can add them to a salad, a fruit cocktail, or another dish.
Its juice is used for both dietary and non-dietary purposes in various regions of the world. Its juice is used in food and drinks, cleaning agent, and aromatherapy among others. Many of the plant compounds in lemons are not found in high amounts in lemon juice, so it is recommended to eat the whole fruit — excluding the peel — for maximum benefit. Lemon juice is used to make lemonade, soft drinks, and cocktails. It is used in marinades for fish. Lemon juice is also used as a short-term preservative on certain foods that tend to oxidize and turn brown after being sliced, such as apples, bananas, and avocados, where its acid denatures the enzymes.
Honey and lemon combination is a traditional cure for treating cough and has gained a fair credibility in the medical community.
How to Select and Store
One of the tricks to finding a good quality lemon is to find one that is rather thin-skinned since those with thicker peels will have less flesh and therefore be less juicy. Choose lemons that are heavy for their size and that feature peels that have a finely grained texture. They should be fully yellow in colour as those that have green tinges will be more acidic due to the fact that they have not fully ripened. Signs of overmature fruit include wrinkling, soft or hard patches and dull colouring.
Lemons will stay fresh kept at room temperature, away from exposure to sunlight, for about one week. If you will not be using them within this time period, you can store the lemons in the refrigerator crisper where they will keep for about four weeks.