Updated Feb. 25, 2020
There’s more to lemons than meets the eye. This fruit may pair well with some of your favorite dishes, but it also offers incredible health benefits. Lemons are packed with nutrients, promote weight loss, and have even been linked to kidney stone prevention and cancer treatment!
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Nutrition Facts of Lemon
Lemons include many vitamins and nutrients that can provide a boost to your body:
- Vitamin C: Lemons are a good source of Vitamin C, which promotes immunity, battles infection, heals wounds, and more. One lemon provides about 31 mg of Vitamin C, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s FoodData Central. The recommended daily intake is 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women.
- Calcium: Lemons contain calcium, which is important for muscle function, hormone secretion, vascular contraction, and more.
- Potassium: Lemons have potassium, which helps muscles and nerves work properly.
- Folate: Also found in lemons, folate fights against spinal birth defects and helps in red blood cell formation.
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Ways Your Body May Benefit From Lemon
This tangy fruit has also been known to possibly help halt bad breath and get rid of dandruff when applied to the scalp. In addition to its properties as a beauty treatment and health aid, there are many other uses for lemons. Whether you enjoy the fruit alone or with your morning tea, here are just a few reasons to embrace lemons and their juice:
Relieves a sore throat
Warm water mixed with honey and lemon is a popular home remedy for people with sore throats. The mixture can provide soothing benefits for a sore throat during cold season. The Vitamin C in lemons also can help in the effort.
Studies have shown lemons may have anticancer benefits. The chemical makeup of lemons can help prevent the development of oral tumors, according to one study. Others have linked citrus fruits and their juices to antitumor effects.
Even chemicals in citrus fruits’ peels have been linked as potential anticancer agents.
Prevents kidney stones
Lemon juice is shown to help prevent kidney stones by raising the urine’s citrate levels.
Citrate binds to calcium, which helps keep kidney stones from forming.
Aids in digestion
The peel and pulp of lemons contain an soluble fiber called pectin. It promotes the production of digestive enzymes in the liver, helping eliminate waste from your body.
Fiber-rich fruits can also help promote regularity, lessening your risk of constipation.
Helps blood sugar
Eating fruit high in fiber can help keep your blood glucose in line, helping to prevent increases. This can lower the risk of diabetes, or it can help people with diabetes manage their condition.
Promotes weight loss
The pectin in lemons and their juice helps you feel fuller for longer, which will make your weight loss much more manageable.
Studies show that an increase in fiber intake, especially from low-density sources like fruit, can lead to lower body weight and fat.
Helps clear skin
Lemons have natural antibacterial qualities and alpha hydroxyl acids, like many over-the-counter acne medications. They can brighten, exfoliate, and help remove blackheads.
The Vitamin C in lemons also promotes collagen synthesis, another boost to your skin.
Drinking Lemon Water the Right Way
If you like to add lemons to your water to improve the taste or another reason, there is no right or wrong method.
Combining warm water with lemon before bed, especially after a heavy or spicy meal, can help with digestion and help you sleep.
However, you should try to avoid drinking too much water before bed because it might make you get up during the night to go to the bathroom. This can hurt your ability to get a full night’s sleep.
When you drink lemon water, use a straw or brush your teeth right after because lemons can weaken your teeth enamel.
“The quantity of lemon water recommended varies by person,” says Tessa Wellmon, RD, a registered dietician at UPMC Hamot. “Somebody without ill effects could consume several glasses a day. But if you have been told it is affecting the enamel of your teeth or you notice it causing heartburn, it would be in your best interest to use it sparingly and make sure you are diluting it with a larger volume of water.”
Risks of Lemon
It is possible to have too much lemon. The American Dental Association says too much citrus can weaken your enamel, increasing your risk of tooth decay. It also can irritate mouth sores.
Citrus also can cause problems for people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Another potential risk is bacteria. A National Environmental Health Association study tested lemons placed on the rims of beverage glasses at restaurants. It found that nearly 70 percent of the lemons tested contained bacteria.
Those risks shouldn’t necessarily stop you from drinking lemon water, Wellmon says.
“There isn’t necessarily a limit to how much lemon water you drink in a day,” she says, “as long as it isn’t causing ill effects such as weakening the enamel on your teeth or causing heartburn.”
Based in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and more than 700 doctor’s offices and outpatient centers. Our expert physicians are among the leaders in their fields, and we are leaders in groundbreaking research and treatment breakthroughs. UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside ranks as “One of America’s Best Hospitals” and No. 1 in Pennsylvania in U.S. News & World Report’s listings.