6 Health Benefits of Lemons Backed by Science

The lemon is a round, vibrant fruit from the Rutaceae flowering plant family. Citrus lemon is its scientific name, and it is native to North-Eastern India. Because of its high citric acid content, this bright yellow citrus fruit has a distinct sour flavour. The vitamins, fibre, and plant compounds in lemons can provide several potential health benefits, including heart health, weight control, and digestive health.

1. Supports Heart Health

Lemons are an important source of vitamin C. One lemon provides about 31 mg of vitamin C, 51% of the daily intake reference (DIR). According to the studies, consuming vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke [1], [2], [3]. 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 [4], [5].

For example, one study showed that eating 24 grams of citrus fiber extract per day decreased total blood cholesterol levels within a month [6]. Animal studies show, plant compounds in lemons, such as hesperidin and diosmin, can also lower the cholesterol levels [7], [8], [9]. A high cholesterol level can cause atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries within the heart. Lemon contains vitamin C, which may lower the risk of heart disease.

2. Reduces the Risk of Cancer

A balanced, fruit and vegetable-rich diet can help prevent certain cancers [10]. Some observational studies have found that people who eat citrus fruit the most have a lower risk of cancer disease, while others have found no effects [11], [12], [13]. Many compounds in lemons have killed the cancer affected cells in test-tube studies [14], [15], [16]. However, these may not have the same effect on the human body.

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Some researchers believe that plant compounds found in lemons, such as limonene and naringenin, may have protective effects, but this assumption needs further research [5], [17], [18], [19]. Animal studies show that there are protective properties such as D-limonene, a compound found in lemon oil [20], [21].

Another study used mandarin pulp containing the beta-cryptoxanthin and hesperidin compounds, which are also found in the lemons [22]. The study found that these compounds were preventing the development of malignant tumors in rodent tongues, lungs, and colons. 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 protective benefits, but no proof of consistency shows that lemons may fight cancer in humans.

3. Protects Against Anemia

Anemia caused by iron deficiency is very common. It happens when you are not getting enough iron from the food you consume. While lemon does not have a high iron content, it can help in absorbing more iron from plant-based foods. Maintaining adequate iron levels aids in the prevention of anaemia, which is characterised by a lower-than-normal of red blood cells count [23], [24].

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.

4. Improves Digestion

Lemon has a high dietary fibre content, particularly soluble fibre, can aid in the reduction of constipation and a variety of other gastrointestinal problems and discomfort. The dominant fiber in lemon is pectin, which is a soluble fiber linked to multiple health benefits. Soluble fibre can improve the health of the gut and slow sugar and starch digestion [25], [26], [27], [28]. These effects may lead to a reduction in sugar digestion. However, you need to eat the pulp of lemons to get the benefits of fiber.

5. Improves Weight Control

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 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 [29], [30].

Other theories suggest plant compounds in lemons may aid in weight loss. Evidence shows that plant compounds in lemon extracts can aid in a variety of ways to avoid or reduce the weight gain [31], [32]. 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 [33]. However, no studies support the effects of lemon compounds on weight loss in humans.

6. Prevents Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are slight lumps that form when the waste products are neutralized in your kidneys. These stones are common in some people and they 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 [34], [35].

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 [36], [37]. Some studies also found lemonade was effective in preventing kidney stones, but the results were mixed [38], [39], [40], [41]. Other studies showed no effect. We need top quality studies to examine whether lemon juice affects the formation of kidney stones [42], [43], [44].

Portion Sizes and Risk

Lemon is a flavorful and healthy addition to most recipes, but it contains natural sugar, as do all fruits. To maintain a balanced diet, limit your lemon consumption to a half cup or less of its cut and peeled form. In addition, people with alkaline problems such as heartburn and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) disorder should not take lemon. Lemon is highly acidic, which can make the symptoms of heartburn worst. Also avoid lemon if you are allergic to it. If you are allergic to certain food or have citrus allergy, avoid taking lemon.

Conclusion

Lemons contain a top level of vitamin C, soluble fiber, and plant compounds which give you several health benefits. It may help with weight loss and lower your risk of heart disease, anemia, kidney stones, digestive problems and even cancer disease.

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