I adore lemons. There is little better than a cool lemon cucumber water on a hot summer day or the occasional glass of sweet-tart lemonade to refresh us. Why are lemons so darn good at cooling us off? What else does the lovely bright citrus offer? Let’s explore it a little.
Botanically, this citrus fruit belongs to the family of Rutaceae, in the genus, Citrus (which also includes orange, pomelo, tangerine, and grapefruit). Scientific name: Citrus limon. It is the smallest among citrus fruits, nevertheless, holds more health benefiting nutrients than other larger citrus family fruits such as oranges, yuzu, pomelo (Citrus maxima), etc.
The lemon’s acidic taste comes from its citric acid which constitutes about 8% of its juice. Citric acid makes it easier for the body to absorb some minerals.
Lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C (ascorbic acid). A 3.5-ounce serving provides about 88% of daily recommended intake. Ascorbic acid is a powerful water-soluble natural anti-oxidant. Consuming foods rich in vitamin C helps the human body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the blood.
Lemons also contain a variety of flavonoid glycosides (Hesperetin, naringin, and naringenin) that have been found to have a bio-active effect on human health as antioxidant, free radical scavenger, anti-inflammatory, and immune system modulators. Naringenin has also been shown to reduce oxidant injury to DNA in the cells in-vitro studies.
Lemon has long been sought to bolster the immune system and with 138mg of potassium, 53 mg of vitamin C, 26 mg of calcium and 22 mg of vitamin A it’s no wonder it improves the bodies natural functions.
Herbalists look to lemon to improve digestion, as an antimicrobial, as a cooling agent and as an anti-inflammatory.
But what about Lemon essential oil? It is such an amazing scent and like many essential oils, the constituents of lemon oil have antiseptic properties so it is an ideal additive to cleaning products. It’s uplifting and cleansing in aromatherapy and can create a more cheerful atmosphere. A Japanese study suggested that after diffusing lemon oil throughout a busy office building, typing errors decreased by 54%. How cool is that! What essential oil doesn’t contain is the water-soluble vitamins and minerals present in infusions.
One note of caution, you will see a lot of skin treatments with lemon because of it’s lovely astringency and vitamin content but it can increase the photosensitivity of the skin.
A glass of lemon water (yum) will surely do your body good! I like to keep a pitcher in the fridge during the summer and only replace the lemon once a week or so.
How do you use lemon? Tell us in the comments below.