They say, ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,’ which it turns out is a pretty good idea. So if life does give you lemons, you are in luck! Lemons are full of vitamins, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and minerals. They are also especially good sources of vitamin C and folate.
A Beneficial Fruit
Lemons are one of the most popular acidic citrus fruits, with its roots traced to Northern India, and they were brought to the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1493. Today, California and Arizona are the leading lemon producers in the U.S., along with Italy, Spain, Greece, South Africa and Australia around the world. While lemons are available throughout the year, summer is the peak season for them. Lemons are a very versatile fruit, meaning you can eat, yes, eat them, in slices, sip healthy lemon water, make lemonade (as the adage suggests), garnish food with them, candy their peels and use their juice and peels, often called ‘zest,’ in cooking, and more. Lemons are also a pretty good addition to a cold glass of iced tea!
According to the latest lemon statistics, a quarter cup of lemon juice contains 31% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C and 3% of folate and 2% potassium, all for around 13 calories. A whole lemon contains 139% of the recommended daily vitamin C and has 22 calories. But lemons are just good on their own for your body – they work and ‘play’ well with other foods.
Studies have examined the role of lemons in accessing carotenoids, which are beneficial phytonutrients, from other foods during the digestive process. Carotenoids, like carrots, can have low accessibility and availability, meaning that even though you may eat a carrot, your body might not absorb many of the carotenoids. So you think you’re doing something good for your body, but your body isn’t sure what to do with all that goodness. Lemons not only have nutritional properties on their own, but they can also unleash benefits from other foods when combined with them.
Lemons are a great choice in boosting your vitamin C, which plays a major role in stimulating the production of white blood cells, protecting the cells involved in your immune system. Beyond giving your immune system a bit of a boost, lemons can also address heart health.
Folic acid has been shown to aid in the prevention of strokes and may contribute to cardiovascular health. Results from clinical studies examining folic acid and heart attacks were inconclusive, but folic acid consumption can result in a modest improvement in stroke reduction.
Vitamin C is also linked to a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease. A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutritionlooked at more than 100,000 people and found that those who ate the most fruits and vegetables had a 15% lower risk of even developing heart disease. The theory is that vitamin C may have cardiovascular benefits because it is an antioxidant that protects against dangerous free radicals. It also may lower bad LDL cholesterol and keep arteries flexible.
Lemons and limes contain the most citric acid of any fruits, which makes them beneficial to those who suffer from kidney stones. Studies have shown citric acid deters stone formation and also breaks up small stones that may already be forming. The more citric acid in your urine, the more protected you are from forming new kidney stones.
Nutritionists suggest that lemons are a great low-calorie way to flavor drinks and food. Studies with limited participants have shown that adding lemon water to your daily activity can help promote weight loss.
In general, lemons are quite good for you in whatever form you choose to add them to your diet. So the next time that life throws some lemons your way, actually make some lemonade and let your body reap the healthy benefits.