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When Life Gives You Lemons, Reap Their Health Benefits

Fredda Branyon has dedicated her life to the advancement of complementary medicine.


From preventing heart disease and cancer to improving digestive health, learn about the science-backed health benefits of lemons here.

Did you know that one 58-gram lemon gives you more than 30 milligrams of vitamin C? Vitamin C is essential for good overall health, and a deficiency can cause serious health issues, including a condition called scurvy. Moreover, lemons are a rich source of good-for-you soluble fiber and plant compounds. That said, here are five evidence-based benefits of including lemons in your diet.

Health Benefits of Lemons, According to Science

You should consider adding lemon to your salad dressings, drinks, marinades, baked goods, and sauces because:

1. Lemons Make the Heart Stronger

Multiple sources (1, 2, 3) show that eating fruits and vegetables containing vitamin C minimizes your risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.

Aside from vitamin C, the fiber and plant compounds in fruits and vegetables, especially lemons, could also help reduce your risk of developing heart disease. For example, one study concluded that consuming 24 grams of citrus fiber natural extracts every day for a month can reduce blood cholesterol levels. Certain plant compounds in lemons, specifically diosmin and hesperidin, may also help manage high cholesterol levels, according to medical studies published in 2003, 2004, and 2013.

2. May Help Prevent Cancer

A well-balanced diet consisting of fruits and vegetables may prevent some cancers, particularly gastrointestinal cancers.

According to multiple studies, including a 2015 research published in the National Library of Medicine, some plant compounds in citrus fruits, including limonene and naringenin, may have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

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In addition, a 2012 study, which used pulp from mandarins containing the plant compounds hesperidin and beta-cryptoxanthin (also found in lemons), discovered that the compounds blocked cancerous tumors from developing in the tongues, lungs, and colons of mice.

Though the results of these studies are promising, currently, no evidence suggests that lemons can stop cancer from developing, especially if malignant tumors run in your family or if you have a history of prolonged exposure to carcinogens.

3. Improve Gut Health

The primary fiber found in lemons is pectin, which is a soluble fiber associated with a myriad of health benefits. For example, soluble fiber plays a significant role in improving overall gut health and slowing the digestion of starches and sugars. As a result, blood sugar levels go down.

4. Stop Kidney Stones in Their Tracks

Kidney stones are small, hard deposits that form inside the kidneys when waste products begin to crystallize and accumulate. Each year in the United States, more than half a million people are rushed to the emergency room due to kidney stone problems.

Drinking one and a half cups (125 ml or 4 ounces) of lemon juice daily may provide enough citric acid to prevent kidney stone formation, especially in those who already had them. The citric acid in lemon juice may inhibit kidney stones by increasing both urine pH and urine volume, therefore creating a practically inhospitable environment for kidney stones to form.

5. Protects Against Anemia

Anemia, a condition describing a lack of healthy red blood cells, occurs when you have an iron deficiency. Left untreated, anemia can cause severe fatigue and pregnancy complications.

Though lemons contain trace amounts of iron, they can help prevent anemia by improving your body's ability to absorb iron from plant foods. Your digestive system absorbs iron from chicken, red meat, and fish (called heme iron) easily, unlike iron from fruits and veggies (non-heme iron). You can improve your absorption of the latter by consuming vitamin C and citric acid, which are both found in lemons.


Thelma Alberts from Germany on May 28, 2021:

I love using lemon in my food and my drinks. Thank you for sharing the information.

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