Quantcast

6 Ways Lemons Contribute to a Healthy Diet

Food

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?

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Hedges, 2019 © Hugh Hayden. All photos courtesy of Lisson Gallery

By Patrick Rogers

"I'm really into trees," said the sculptor Hugh Hayden. "I'm drawn to plants."

Read More Show Less
BruceBlock / iStock / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Thanks to their high concentration of powerful plant compounds, foods with a natural purple hue offer a wide array of health benefits.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Environmental Investigation Agency

By Genevieve Belmaker

Last week, the Peruvian Palm Oil Producers' Association (JUNPALMA) promised to enter into an agreement for sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil production. The promise was secured by the U.S. based National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in collaboration with the local government, growers and the independent conservation organization Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo.

Read More Show Less
Jessica Kourkounis / Stringer

The rallying cry to build it again and to build it better than before is inspiring after a natural disaster, but it may not be the best course of action, according to new research published in the journal Science.

"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.

The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.

"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."

The billions of dollars spent to rebuild the Jersey Shore and to create dunes to protect from future storms after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 may be a waste if sea level rise inundates the entire coastline.

"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."

Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.

Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.

That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.

Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.

If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.

"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."

To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.


"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."

Pixabay

By Manuella Libardi

Leaked documents show that Jair Bolsonaro's government intends to use the Brazilian president's hate speech to isolate minorities living in the Amazon region. The PowerPoint slides, which democraciaAbierta has seen, also reveal plans to implement predatory projects that could have a devastating environmental impact.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
XL CATLIN SEAVIEW SURVEY / THE OCEAN AGENCY

Hope may be on the horizon for the world's depleted coral reefs thanks to scientists who successfully reproduced endangered corals in a laboratory setting for the first time, according to Reuters.

Read More Show Less

Last week we received positive news on the border wall's imminent construction in an Arizona wildlife refuge. The Trump administration delayed construction of the wall through about 60 miles of federal wildlife preserves.

Read More Show Less
PhotoAlto / Frederic Cirou / Getty Images

Drinking water treated with fluoride during pregnancy may lead to lower IQs in children, a controversial new study has found.

Read More Show Less