Here are 6 evidence-based health benefits of lemon juice.
1. Lemon juice to promote heart health
Lemons are a good source of vitamin C. One lemon provides about 31 mg of vitamin C, or 51% of the Reference Daily Intake. Research shows that eating fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.
The effect of fruit and vegetable consumption on the risk of coronary heart disease
However, it’s not just vitamin C that’s considered heart-healthy. The fiber and plant compounds in lemons can also significantly reduce certain risk factors for heart disease. For example, one study found that consuming 24 grams of citrus fiber extract daily for one month lowered total blood cholesterol levels. Plant compounds found in lemons, hesperidin and diosmin, have also been found to lower cholesterol.
2. Lemon juice to help control weight
Lemon is 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 they contain expands in your stomach, helping you feel full longer. That said, few people eat whole lemons. And since lemon juice doesn’t contain pectin, beverages made with lemon juice don’t particularly promote satiety. Another theory suggests 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 helps you lose weight and not the lemon. On the other hand, other more convincing evidence suggests that it is many other plant compounds contained in lemons that help with weight loss. Research shows that the plant compounds in lemon extracts, naringin and naringenin, may actually help prevent or reduce weight gain.
3. Lemon juice to prevent kidney stones
Kidney stones are small growths that form when debris crystallizes and accumulates in the kidneys. They are quite common and people who suffer from them usually have them several times. Citric acid can help prevent kidney stones by increasing the volume and pH of urine. Thus creating a less favorable environment for the formation of kidney stones. A half cup (125 ml) of lemon juice a day can provide enough citric acid to help prevent stone formation in people who have had them. Some studies have also shown that lemonade is effective in preventing kidney stones.
4. Lemon juice to protect against anemia
Iron deficiency anemia is quite common. It occurs when the foods you eat do not contain enough iron. Lemons contain some iron, but they mainly prevent anemia by improving the absorption of iron from plant foods. Iron from meat, poultry, and fish (called heme iron) is very easily absorbed in the intestine, while iron from plant sources (non-heme iron) is not as easily absorbed. However, this absorption can be enhanced by consuming vitamin C and citric acid. Since lemons contain vitamin C and citric acid, they can protect against anemia by ensuring that you get as much iron as possible from your diet.
5. Lemon juice to reduce the risk of cancer
A healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help prevent certain types of cancer. Some observational studies have shown that people who consume more citrus fruits have a lower risk of cancer. Some researchers believe that plant compounds found in lemons, such as limonene and naringenin, may have anti-cancer effects.
Animal studies indicate that D-limonene, a compound found in lemon oil, has anticancer properties. Another study used the pulp of tangerines that contained the plant compounds beta-cryptoxanthin and hesperidin, which are also found in lemons. The study found that these compounds prevented the development of malignant tumors in the rodents’ tongues, lungs, and colons. However, it should be noted that the research team used a very high dose of these chemicals. Much more than you would get from eating lemons or oranges.
Certain plant compounds in lemons and other citrus fruits have anticancer potential. But beware, there is no good evidence to suggest that lemons can fight cancer in humans once it has started. So in prevention it is perfect, but from a therapeutic point of view: it must be avoided.
6. Lemon juice to improve digestive health
Lemons contain about 10% carbohydrates, mostly in the form of soluble fiber and simple sugars. The main fiber in lemons is pectin, a form of soluble fiber linked to multiple health benefits. Soluble fiber can improve intestinal health and slow the digestion of sugars and starches. These effects can lead to lower blood sugar levels. However, to reap the fiber benefits of lemons, you must eat the pulp. People who drink lemon juice without the fiber in the pulp will miss out on the benefits of fiber.
- KJ Joshipura: The effect of fruit and vegetable intake on the risk of coronary heart disease. Ann Intern Med 2001 Jun 19; 134(12): 1106-14. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-134-12-200106190-00010.
- Audrey Chanet: Citrus flavanones: what is their role in cardiovascular protection? J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Sep 12; 60 (36): 8809-22. doi: 10.1021/jf300669s.
- Julia M Assini 1: Citrus Flavonoids and Lipid Metabolism. Cur Opin Lipidol. 2013 February; 24(1):34-40. doi: 10.1097/MOL.0b013e32835c07fd.
- Lemon polyphenols suppress diet-induced obesity by upregulating mRNA levels of enzymes involved in beta oxidation in mouse white adipose tissue. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2008 November; 43 (3): 201-9. doi: 10.3164/jcbn.2008066. Epub 2008 Oct 31.
- M Ashraful Alam: Effect of the citrus flavonoids, naringin and naringenin, on metabolic syndrome and their mechanisms of action. nutrition av. July 14, 2014; 5(4):404-17. doi: 10.3945/an.113.005603. Print 2014 July.
- Jong-Myon Bae: Citrus consumption and risk of pancreatic cancer: a quantitative systematic review. Pancreas. 2009 Mar;38(2):168-74. doi: 10.1097/MPA.0b013e318188c497.
- Jong-Myon Bae: Citrus consumption and risk of stomach cancer: a quantitative systematic review. Gastric cancer. 2008;11(1):23-32. doi: 10.1007/s10120-007-0447-2. Epub 2008, March 29.
- Saravana Kumar Jaganathan: Role of pomegranate and citrus fruit juices in the prevention of colon cancer. J Gastroenterol. . 2014 April 28; 20(16): 4618-25. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v20.i16.4618.
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