Good Fruit & Vegetables

The many benefits and uses of lemon

Who doesn't like a cold glass of lemonade on a hot summer day? Picture Shutterstock
Who doesn't like a cold glass of lemonade on a hot summer day? Picture Shutterstock

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Lemons are a truly remarkable fruit. Yes, they can add some needed zest to your favorite homemade dish or a glass of iced tea. And who doesn't like a cold glass of lemonade on a hot summer day? But lemons have much more to offer than most of us give them credit for.

Indeed, so useful are they that I've taken to ordering lemons by the crate and having them delivered by a courier service. By the time you're finished reading this article you may decide to start doing the same.

In the paragraphs that follow, we highlight some of the lesser known health benefits and practical uses of lemon.

Health benefits of lemon

First, let's go over the nutrition facts of lemons. Per the US Department of Agriculture, a single lemon of medium size (58 g) contains around 20 calories made up of the following:

Sodium-1.2 mg

Potassium-80 mg

Carbohydrates-5 g

Dietary fiber-1.6 g

Sugar-1.5 g

Protein-0.6 g

Lemons also contain small quantities of iron, magnesium, and calcium, as well as an impressive 51 per cent of your daily vitamin C value.

Now for those health benefits.

Aids weight loss

Lemon juice, with pulp, can help you maintain a healthy weight. This is owing to its fibre content, particularly a soluble fibre called pectin. Fibre makes you feel full more quickly, which prevents overeating.

Prevents kidney stones

Anyone who has experienced kidney stones knows how painful they can be. It's not something you'd wish on your worst enemy. If you've already had a kidney stone, there's a good chance you'll have another. That's unfortunate, but you can lower the chances by consuming lemon juice on a regular basis. The citric acid in lemon works to increase the pH of urine while also increasing urine volume, making it less likely that a stone will form.

Boosts heart health

As we previously noted, lemons contain high concentrations of vitamin C. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps protect the body against free radicals and harmful chemicals. By checking these damaging molecules and toxic chemicals, vitamin C lowers your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Regulates blood sugar

A diet high in fibre is recommended for people with diabetes and prediabetes. Fibre helps prevent blood sugar spikes and therefore plays an important role in regulating blood glucose levels. Lemons are a good source of fibre and contain very little sugar, making them an ideal food for diabetics.

Helps prevent cancer

It's well understood that diets high in fruits and vegetables are beneficial to our health in numerous ways. They lower our risk of all kinds of health conditions, including certain cancers. Some research indicates that citrus fruits have strong anti-cancer properties. Lemons in particular may help protect against cancer thanks to a hydrocarbon known as limonene.

Relieves sore throat

Drinking a bit of lemon juice mixed with honey is an age-old treatment for sore throat. The combination has an immediate soothing effect. And since sore throats are usually associated with head colds, the vitamin C in lemon can help relieve other symptoms as well.

Combats anemia

Anemia has many potential causes, but the most common is iron deficiency. The quantity of iron in lemons is not enough to prevent or reverse anemia; however, the high concentrations of vitamin C and citric acid boost your body's ability to absorb iron from the food you eat. Hence, adding lemon to your diet is a good way to prevent iron deficiency anemia.

Well, now you can perhaps understand my regular bulk lemon purchases. I'm lucky enough to live near an organic farmers' market, but any grocery store will gladly ship you a crate using a cheap courier service.

Lemon uses

Let's now turn our attention to the various practical uses of lemon and lemon juice.

Cleaning agent

Lemons are natural cleaning agents. That's why so many commercial products contain lemon extract among their ingredients. Mix lemon juice with water and use the solution to spruce up your kitchen, bathrooms, and more.

Air freshener

The zest of lemon has a pleasing aroma-that's one reason why it's used so widely in cooking and cleaning. It can also be used as an air freshener.

Lemon-based air fresheners are available in stores and online, but you're better off making your own. All you need is a bottle of lemon essential oil, baking soda, and water. Combine the ingredients in a clean spray bottle, shake well, and get to work deodorising your home. You can also use lemon essential oil with an aromatic diffuser.

Stain remover

Lemon juice is terrific when it comes to removing stubborn stains, for example sweat stains on white shirts. For this you'll need lemon juice, baking soda, vinegar, and water. Mix them together and use a brush to gently scrub the affected areas. Let it sit awhile, then put it through the wash. The stains will be far less noticeable, if not gone altogether.

Beyond that, you can use lemon juice to remove stains from cutting boards, countertops, and plastic containers.