Alfred E. Newman had it right when he said,”We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons.” Too true. So when life gives you lemons, eat them whole and fresh!
All about lemons
The lemon was first created as a cross between a lime and a citron, and all three grow on evergreen shrubs. The Arabs introduced this small citrus fruit to the Europeans, who then brought them to Spain in the 11th century.
Along with other fruits and vegetables, Christopher Columbus brought lemons with him on his second voyage to the New World in 1493. They have been growing in Florida since the 16th century.
Besides large amounts of vitamin C, lemons contain riboflavin, thiamin, iron, magnesium, pantothenic acid, fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, copper, calcium and folate. Lemons even protected miners against scurvy during the California Gold Rush. They cost as much as one dollar each in 1849.
Although we may not be overly concerned about scurvy in America today, here are 11 other great reasons why lemons should be a part of your healthy diet:
1. Free radical fighter
Vitamin C is the most important antioxidant found in nature. This vitamin neutralizes free radicals both inside and outside of cells. Free radicals are responsible for damaging cells and cellular membranes leading to inflammation, chronic disease and accelerated aging.
Free radicals can also damage blood vessels and alter cholesterol so that it builds up on artery walls. Vitamin C helps prevent this buildup and, consequently, helps to stop the progression of atherosclerosis and heart disease in diabetics.
2. Immune system booster
When cold and flu season arrives, it is always a good idea to keep a bag of fresh lemons handy. The citric acid, bioflavonoids, vitamin C, calcium, pectin and limonene do a great job of boosting your immune system and keeping infections at bay.
3. Cancer protection
Lemons contain 22 anti-cancer compounds including limonene, an oil that has been shown to halt the growth of cancer tumors in animals. In addition, they also contain flavonol glycosides, which stop the division of cancer cells.
A 2005 study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that limonoids in citrus fruits protect cells from damage that can lead to cancer. Another study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry stated that limonoids can inhibit tumors in the mouth and stop the growth of cancer cells once a tumor has formed.
4. pH balance
Lemons are considered one of the most alkalizing foods you can eat. This may seem counterintuitive, as they are acidic on their own. However, in the body, lemons are alkaline; the citric acid does not create acidity once it has been metabolized.
The minerals in lemons actually help to alkalize the blood. Most people are too acidic, and lemons reduce overall acidity, drawing uric acid from the joints. This reduces the pain and inflammation which many people feel.
5. Oxygen uptake
Lemons have a purer concentration of negatively charged ions than any other fruit. Dr. Pierce J. Howard, author of “The Owners Manual for the Brain; Everyday Applications from Mind Brain Research,” says, “Negative ions increase the flow of oxygen to the brain; resulting in higher alertness, decreased drowsiness, and more mental energy. They also may protect against germs in the air.” The first man to reach the top of Mount Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary, said that he attributed much of his success to lemons!
LEMON FACT: One lemon tree can produce up to 600 pounds of lemons in a year.
Most people fall far short of the 20 to 38 grams of fiber recommended daily. Without proper fiber, however, you can easily become constipated or develop hemorrhoids. Consuming adequate fiber has been shown to reduce the risk of developing health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and diverticulitis.
In fact, the American Diabetes Association includes lemons on their list of superfoods because of their high fiber content. In addition, the pectin fiber in lemons can help keep you from getting hungry and overeating.
7. Mood and energy
Have you ever gotten up on the “wrong side of the bed?” If you are often lethargic and cranky in the morning, or any time of the day for that matter, you may want to consider munching on a lemon.
Our energy comes from atoms and molecules in our food. When positively charged atoms flood the digestive tract and mingle with those that are negatively charged, a positive reaction occurs.
Lemons contain more negatively charged ions than positive ions, which gives you a boost as the lemon enters your digestive tract. Just the scent alone of lemons can improve your mood and elevate your energy levels. Lemons also promote clear thinking and help reduce anxiety and depression.
Try this: Rubbing a lemon on your lips before bed and washing it off in the morning will help remove dead skin cells and make your lips soft.
8. Digestive health
Your body works hard to digest all that you give it. Lemon juice helps flush away unwanted materials and toxins left from the digestive process. Because lemon juice is similar in atomic composition to digestive juices and saliva, it does a great job breaking down material and encouraging the liver to produce bile.
9. Clear skin
Sometimes we forget that the key to clear and beautiful skin starts with great nutrition. Thanks to the vitamin C in lemons, these little citrus fruits can help decrease wrinkles and blemishes. Lemons help to push toxins from the body and support healthy liver function, which also keeps skin clear and supple.
10. Kidney stones
When you don’t have enough citrate in your urine, you are at an increased risk of developing kidney stones. Eating lemons on a regular basis can help raise the citrate levels in your urine. This may prevent stones from forming by coating very small stones and keeping other material from attaching to the small stones and enlarging them.
11. Blood pressure
Lemons are high in potassium, which is an important mineral that helps to keep blood vessels soft and flexible. This, in turn, helps to reduce high blood pressure. The vitamin B in lemons is also beneficial to heart health.
The difference between real lemons and bottled lemon juice
Real lemons contain about 139 percent vitamin C, while bottled juice contains 100 percent of the daily value. The calcium content in real lemons is seven percent, while in bottled juice it is three percent. In addition, bottled lemon juice may also contain fructose and other dangerous additives.
Lemon buying tips
As lemons ripen, their antioxidant powers increase. Choose lemons when they are ripe. Lemons with thinner skin will have more juice than those with thicker skin. Also, the heavier a lemon is, the more juice it contains. Don’t buy lemons that are wrinkled or dull in color.
— Susan Patterson