Nutrition

The 6 Proven Health Benefits of Lemon Juice

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 daily reference 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 may also significantly reduce certain risk factors for heart disease. For example, one study found that consuming 24 grams of citrus fiber extract daily for a month reduced total blood cholesterol levels. The 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 touted as a weight loss food, and there are a few theories as to why this is happening. A 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 does not contain pectin, so drinks made with lemon juice do not particularly promote the feeling of 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 with weight loss and not the lemon. On the other hand, other more convincing elements suggest 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, can actually help prevent or reduce weight gain.

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3. Lemon juice to prevent kidney stones

Kidney stones are small growths that form when waste crystallizes and builds up in the kidneys. They are quite common and people who suffer from them often 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. Half a cup (125 ml) of lemon juice a day can provide enough citric acid to help prevent stones from forming in people who have had them. Some studies have also shown lemonade to be 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, chicken, and fish (called heme iron) is very readily absorbed by your gut, while plant-based iron (non-heme iron) is not absorbed as readily. However, this absorption can be improved by consuming vitamin C and citric acid. As lemons contain both vitamin C and citric acid, they may 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 cancers. Some observational studies have shown that people who consume the most 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 anti-cancer 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 tongue, lungs and colons of rodents. However, it should be noted that the research team used a very high dose of these chemicals. Way more than you would get from eating lemons or oranges.

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Certain plant compounds from lemons and other citrus fruits have anti-cancer potential. But beware, there is no quality evidence to suggest that lemons can fight cancer in humans once it has started. So in prevention it’s perfect, but from a therapeutic point of view: to be avoided.

6. Lemon juice to improve digestive health

Lemons are 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 gut health and slow the digestion of sugars and starches. These effects can lead to a reduction in 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 fiber benefits.

Sources

  • KJ Joshipura: The effect of fruit and vegetable intake on risk for 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. Curr Opin Lipidol. 2013 Feb;24(1):34-40. doi: 10.1097/MOL.0b013e32835c07fd.
  • Lemon Polyphenols Suppress Diet-induced Obesity by Up-Regulation of mRNA Levels of the Enzymes Involved in beta-Oxidation in Mouse White Adipose Tissue. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2008 Nov;43(3):201-9. doi: 10.3164/jcbn.2008066. Epub 2008 31 Oct.
  • M Ashraful Alam: Effect of citrus flavonoids, naringin and naringenin, on metabolic syndrome and their mechanisms of action. Adv Nutr. 2014 Jul 14;5(4):404-17. doi: 10.3945/an.113.005603. Print 2014 Jul.
  • Jong-Myon Bae: Citrus fruit intake and pancreatic cancer risk: a quantitative systematic review. Pancreas. 2009 Mar;38(2):168-74. doi: 10.1097/MPA.0b013e318188c497.
  • Jong-Myon Bae: Citrus fruit intake and stomach cancer risk: 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 colon cancer prevention. J Gastroenterol. . 2014 Apr 28;20(16):4618-25. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v20.i16.4618.
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