Quantcast
Food

6 Ways Lemons Contribute to a Healthy Diet

The lemon is high in vitamin C, fiber and various beneficial plant compounds. These nutrients are responsible for the health benefits of lemons. In fact, lemons may support heart health, weight control, digestive health and more.

The lemon is high in vitamin C, fiber and various beneficial plant compounds. Photo credit: Pexels

This article lists six health benefits of lemons that are backed by science:

1. Support Heart Health

Lemons are a good source of vitamin C.

One lemon provides about 30.7 mg of vitamin C, which is 51 percent of your recommended daily intake (RDI).

Research has shown that eating fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke (1, 2, 3).

However, it's not only the vitamin C that is thought to be good for your heart. The fiber and plant compounds in lemons could also significantly lower some risk factors for heart disease (4, 5).

For instance, one study found that eating the fiber from citrus fruits like lemons reduced total blood cholesterol levels after 4 weeks (6).

Plant chemicals found in lemons, namely hesperidin and diosmin, have also been shown to lower cholesterol (7, 8, 9).

Bottom Line: Lemons are high in heart-healthy vitamin C and several beneficial plant compounds that have been shown to lower cholesterol.

2. Help Control 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 claims 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 (10, 11).

Other theories suggest that the plant compounds in lemons may help with weight loss.

Research actually shows that plant compounds in lemon extracts may help prevent or reduce weight gain in a number of ways (12, 13).

In one study, mice on a fattening diet were given lemon polyphenols extracted from the peel. They gained less weight and less body fat than other mice (14).

These are interesting findings. However, at the moment no studies have confirmed the weight loss effects of lemon compounds in humans.

Bottom Line: Animal studies show that lemon extract and plant compounds may promote weight loss, but the effects in humans are unknown.

3. Prevent Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are small lumps that form when waste products crystallize and build up in the kidneys.

They are quite common and people who get them often get them repeatedly.

Citric acid may help prevent kidney stones by increasing urine volume and increasing urine pH, creating a less favorable environment for kidney stone formation (15, 16).

It's thought that just 1/2 a cup (4 oz) of lemon juice per day can provide enough citric acid to help prevent stone formation in people who have already had them (17, 18).

Some studies also found that lemonade effectively prevented kidney stones, but the results have been mixed. Other studies have shown no effect (19, 20, 21, 22).

Therefore, more well-conducted studies need to examine how lemon juice affects kidney stone formation (23, 24, 25).

Bottom Line: Lemon juice may help prevent kidney stones from re-forming. However, more quality research is needed.

4. Protect Against Anemia

Iron deficiency anemia is quite common. It occurs when you don't get enough iron from the foods you eat.

Lemons contain some iron, but primarily they help prevent anemia by improving your absorption of iron from plant foods (26, 27).

Iron from meat, chicken and fish (known as heme-iron) is very easily absorbed in your gut. Iron from plant sources (non-heme iron) is not as well absorbed, but this can be improved by the intake of vitamin C and citric acid.

Because lemons contain both vitamin C and citric acid, they may protect against anemia by ensuring you absorb as much iron as possible from your diet.

Bottom Line: Lemons contain vitamin C and citric acid, which help you absorb non-heme iron from plants. This may help prevent anemia.

5. Reduce Cancer Risk

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help prevent some cancers (28).

Observational studies have found that people who eat the most citrus fruit have a lower risk of cancer, but other studies have found no effects (29, 30, 31).

In test tubes, many compounds from lemons have killed cancer cells. However, many things can kill cancer in a test tube, and that doesn't mean they will work the same way in the human body (32, 33, 34).

Some researchers think that plant compounds found in lemons, such as limonene and naringenin, could have anti-cancer effects. Yet this hypothesis also needs further investigation (5, 35, 36, 37).

Researchers have also been encouraged by animal studies showing that D-limonene, a compound found in lemon oil, does have anti-cancer properties (38, 39).

Another study used pulp from mandarins that contained the plant compounds b-cryptoxanthin and hesperidin, which are both also found in lemons.

The study found that the compounds prevented malignant tumors from developing in the tongues, lungs and colons of rodents (40).

However, it should be noted that the research team used a very potent dose of the chemicals—far more than you would get by eating lemons or oranges.

So far, it seems that plant compounds from lemons and other citrus fruits have the potential to prevent the progression of cancer.

That being said, no quality evidence shows that lemons can fight cancer in humans.

Bottom Line: Some plant chemicals from lemons have been shown to prevent cancer in animal studies. However, human studies are needed.

6. Improve Digestive Health

Lemons are made up of about 10 percent carbs, mostly in the form of soluble fiber and simple sugars.

The main fiber in lemons is pectin, a form of soluble fiber that is linked to all sorts of health benefits.

Soluble fiber can improve gut health and slow the digestion of sugars and starches. These effects may result in reduced blood sugar levels (41, 42, 43, 44).

However, to get the benefits of fiber from lemons, you need to eat a lot of them, including their pulp and skin.

People who drink the juice from lemons, without consuming the skin and pulp, will miss out on benefits of the fiber.

Bottom Line: The soluble fiber in lemons could help improve digestive health. However, you need to eat the pulp of the lemon, not just the juice.

Take Home Message

Lemons contain a high amount of vitamin C, soluble fiber and plant compounds that give them a number of health benefits.

Potentially, lemons may help with weight loss and provide protection against heart disease, anemia, kidney stones, digestive issues and cancer.

Not only are lemons a very healthy fruit, but they also have a distinct, pleasurable taste and smell that make them a great addition to foods and drinks.

This article was reposted from our media associate Authority Nutrition.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

5 Ways Eating Processed Foods Messes with Your Body

11 Unexpected Health Benefits of Drinking Your Morning Joe

6 Alternatives to Milk: Which Is the Healthiest?

Are Oats and Oatmeal Gluten-Free?

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Health
PxHere

This Common Preservative in Processed Food May Be Making You Tired

By Brian Mastroianni

Is it hard to motivate yourself to get off the couch and go exercise?

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
MarioGuti / iStock / Getty Images

EVs 101: Your Guide to Electric Vehicles

By Patrick Rogers

If you have ever considered making the switch to an environmentally friendly electric vehicle, don't drag your feet. Though EV prices are falling, and states are unveiling more and more public charging stations and plug-in-ready parking spots, the federal government is doing everything it can to slam the brakes on our progress away from gas-burning internal combustion engines. President Trump, likely pressured by his allies in the fossil fuel industry, has threatened to end the federal tax credits that have already helped put hundreds of thousands of EVs on the road—a move bound to harm not only our environment but our economy, too. After all, the manufacturing and sale of EVs, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids supported 197,000 jobs in 2017, according to the most recent U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
An adult bush dog, part of a captive breeding program. Hudson Garcia

A Rescue Dog Is Now Helping to Save Other (Much Wilder) Dogs

By Jason Bittel

Formidable predators stalk the forests between Panama and northern Argentina. They are sometimes heard but never seen. They are small but feisty and have even been documented trying to take down a tapir, which can top out at nearly 400 pounds. Chupacabras? No.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
RoNeDya / iStock / Getty Images

What Is Mead, and Is It Good for You?

By Ansley Hill, RD, LD

Mead is a fermented beverage traditionally made from honey, water and a yeast or bacterial culture.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
U.S. Army member helps clear debris from Tyndall Air Force Base following Hurricane Michael. U.S. Army

Pentagon: Climate Change Is Real and a 'National Security Issue'

The Pentagon released a Congressionally mandated report (pdf) that warns flooding, drought and wildfires and other effects of climate change puts U.S. military bases at risk.

The 22-page analysis states plainly: "The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to Department of Defense (DoD or the Department) missions, operational plans, and installations."

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Protesters interrupt the confirmation hearing for Andrew Wheeler on Capitol Hill Jan. 16 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

5 People Calling Out EPA Acting Head Wheeler for Putting Polluters First

This week, people across the country are joining environmental leaders to speak out against the nomination of former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to lead the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As Scott Pruitt's hand-picked successor, Wheeler has continued to put polluters over people, most recently by using the last of his agency's funding before it expired in the government shutdown to announce plans to allow power plants to spew toxic mercury and other hazardous pollution into the air.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Great white shark. Elias Levy / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Marine Biologists Raise Flags About Viral Great White Shark Encounter

By now you might have seen Ocean Ramsey's rare and jaw-dropping encounter with a great white shark in waters near Oahu, Hawaii.

Ramsey, a marine biologist, said on the TODAY Show that it was "absolutely breathtaking and heart-melting" to be approached by the massive marine mammal.

Keep reading... Show less
A tree found severed in half in an act of vandalism in Joshua Tree National Park. Gina Ferazzi / Los AngelesTimes / Getty Images

Wall Before Country Takes Mounting Toll on Americans Everywhere

By Rhea Suh

One month on, the longest and most senseless U.S. government shutdown in history is taking a grave and growing toll on the environment and public health.

Food inspectors have been idled or are working without pay, increasing the risk we'll get sick from eating produce, meat and poultry that isn't properly checked. National parks and public wilderness lands are overrun by vandals, overtaken by off-road joyriders, and overflowing with trash. Federal testing of air and water quality, as well as monitoring of pollution levels from factories, incinerators and other sources, is on hold or sharply curtailed. Citizen input on critical environmental issues is being hindered. Vital research and data collection are being sidelined.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!