What’s So Great About Lemons?

What’s So Great About Lemons?

Gotta be honest, in the garnish category lemons may reign. Need a jaunty little kicker on the edge of a cocktail glass? Lemon’s your man. Spritz of something tart and zesty on a salad or a piece of fish? Get your lemon on. But no nutritionist has ever said to a client “how’s your lemon intake”. No doctor has said “I want you to cut down on the alcohol and red meat and for God’s sake, if you do nothing else for your health, eat more lemons”. So when I embarked on a search for the lowdown I really thought it was going to amount to Vitamin C and scurvy and not much else. Quelle suprise!

photo by  Maya Visnyei

First, nutrition. To be sure, the lemon’s claim to fame is Vitamin C. Also fairly well known is that lemons are a natural digestive aid and liver cleanser. They’re high in a number of immune boosting antioxidants and infection fighters and have powerful antibacterial and antiviral compounds (namely limonene, magnesium and citric acid). The pectin that naturally occurs in lemons has also been found to help lower cholesterol levels and citric acid can help dissolve kidney stones. As recently as February 2012 a study reported in Science Daily showed that consumption of citrus fruits lowered a woman’s risk of stroke by as much as 19%.

As with so many things nutritional and natural other areas of the world are way ahead of us when it comes to the power of the lemon. In parts of Europe and Asia, documentation of the use of lemon as an antiseptic agent and as an antidote for poison goes back as far as the 1st century.  In India lemon is eaten by most people on a daily basis and it is a primary ingredient in Ayurvedic medicine.

Beyond nutrition, the mighty little lemon is no slacker. Did you know:

       Fresh lemon juice is an effective acne treatment (due to the ascorbic and citric acids) and can also be used topically to treat corns, calluses and eczema….oh AND bug bites!

       Ingesting and inhaling the scent of lemons is proven to lower anxiety, combat fatigue and increase alertness

       Lemon can be used as a natural cleaner on every surface in your home and has been found to remove stains from marble and get tarnished brass gleaming like new

       A few drops of lemon juice in the pot will prevent clumping when cooking rice and the juice of half a lemon in a bowl of ice water will revitalize limp lettuce within an hour

       You can swap your laundry soup and bleach for…..yes, lemon juice. For tough stains, apply lemon juice directly or just toss it in with the load (who knew?? Well someone did obviously, but it was not me

       Lemon juice will fade freckles and age spots and soften and bright skin

So, when life hands you lemons, we now know the very least you should do is make lemonade. (Although I do have a great spiked lemonade recipe….but that’s another post!) For a kid friendly dose of lemon, try lemon ice cubes or homemade lemon popsicles.

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