6 Health Benefits of Lemons Backed by Science

health benefits of lemons

Lemons provide top levels of vitamin C, fiber, and other beneficial plant compounds. The nutrients in lemons have several health benefits. Lemons might help heart health, weight control, and digestive health. Here are 6 health benefits of lemons.

Improves Digestive System

Lemons contain approximately 10 percent carbohydrates, mainly in the form of soluble fiber and simple sugars. The dominant fiber in lemon is pectin. Pectin is a soluble fiber linked to multiple health benefits. Soluble fibre can improve the health of the gut and slow sugar and starch digestion. These effects may lead to a reduction in blood sugar levels (1, 2, 3).

However, you need to eat the pulp to get the benefits of fiber from lemons.

The soluble lemon fiber may help to improve digestive health. You need to eat the lemon pulp though, not just the juice.

Supports Heart Health

Lemons are an important source of vitamin C. One lemon provides about 31 mg of vitamin C, 51 percent of the daily intake reference (DIR). Research shows that consuming vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke (4, 5).

It’s not just the vitamin C which is thought to be good for your heart, though. The lemon fiber and plant compounds could also significantly reduce some risk factors of heart disease.

For example, one study showed that eating 24 grams of citrus fiber extract per day decreased total blood cholesterol levels within a month. Plant compounds in lemons such as hesperidin and diosmin can also lower the cholesterol levels (6, 7, 8, 9, 10).

Lemons are rich in vitamin C and other beneficial cholesterol-lowering plant compounds.

Reduces Cancer Risk

A balanced, fruit and vegetable-rich diet can help prevent certain cancers. Some observational studies have found that people who eat citrus fruit the most have a lower cancer risk while others have found no effects (11, 12, 13).

Many compounds from lemons have killed cancer cells in test-tube tests. However, these may not have the same effect on the human

body (14, 15).

Some researchers believe that plant compounds found in lemons such as limonene and naringenin may have anticancer effects, but this assumption needs further research (16, 17, 18).

Animal studies show that there are anticancer properties such as D-limonene, a compound found in lemon oil (19, 20).

Another study used mandarin pulp containing the beta-cryptoxanthin and hesperidin compounds, which are also found in the lemons. The study found that these compounds were preventing the development of malignant tumors in rodent tongues, lungs, and colons (21).

It should be looked back, however, that the research team used a very high dose of chemicals much more than you can get from eating lemons or oranges.

Although certain plant compounds from lemons and other citrus fruits may have anticancer potential, but no proof of consistency shows that lemons fight cancer in humans.

Some plant chemicals found in lemons were shown to prevent cancer. There is still a need for human studies.

Protects Against Anemia

Anemia caused by iron deficiency are very common. It happens when you are not getting enough iron from the food you consume. Lemons contain some iron, but they avoid anemia mainly by increasing the absorption of iron from plant foods (22, 23).

Your gut absorbs iron quickly from meat, chicken, and fish (known as hem iron), whereas iron from plant sources (non-heme iron) is difficult to absorb.

However, taking vitamin C and citric acid can improve this absorption. Since lemons contain both vitamin C and citric acid, they can protect against anemia by making sure you absorb as much iron from your diet as possible.

Lemons contain vitamin C and citric acid, which helps you absorb plant non-heme iron. This may avoid anemia.

Helps Control Weight

Lemons displayed as food for weight loss, and there are several hypotheses. One popular idea is that the soluble pectin fiber in your stomach expands and makes you feel full for longer. That said, few people eat whole lemons. However, lemon juice doesn’t contain pectin, lemon juice drinks don’t likewise encourage fullness.

Another theory suggests that sipping lemon in hot water will help you lose weight. Drinking water, however, increases the number of calories you burn, so it could be the water itself that helps to lose weight not the lemon (24, 25).

Other theories suggest plant compounds in lemons may aid that weight loss. Evidence shows that plant compounds in lemon extracts can aid in a variety of ways to avoid or reduce the weight gain (26, 27).

In one study, lemon-polyphenols extracted from the peel were given to mice on a fattening diet. They gained less body fat and weight than other mice (28).

No studies support the impact of lemon compounds on weight loss in humans.

Animal studies show lemon extract and plant compounds can promote weight loss, but the results are unknown to humans.

Prevents Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are slight lumps that form when the waste products crystallize in your kidneys and build up. They ‘re common and people who get them often get them repeatedly.

By increasing the volume of urine and increasing urine pH, citric acid can help prevent kidney stones, creating a less favorable environment for formation of kidney stones (29, 30).

Just one 1/2-cup (4 ounces or 125 ml) of lemon juice per day can provide sufficient citric acid to help prevent stone formation in people who already have it (31, 32).

Some studies also found lemonade was effective in preventing kidney stones, but the results were mixed. Other studies showed no effect (33, 34, 35).

We need top quality studies to examine whether lemon juice affects the formation of kidney stones (36, 37).

Lemon juice can help prevent stones in the kidneys. More qualitative research is required, however.

The Bottom Line

Lemons contain a top level of vitamin C, soluble fiber, and plant compounds which give them several health benefits. It can help with weight loss and lower your risk of heart disease, anemia, kidney stones, digestive problems and cancer. Lemons are not only healthy fruit, but they also have a distinct, pleasant taste and smell which makes them a substantial addition to foods and drinks.

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Naeem Durrani BSc
Naeem Durrani is a freelance journalist who specializes in health and wellness innovation. His interests include medical research, nutrition, and the scientific evidence around effective wellness practices that empower people to positively transform their lives.
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