Lemons – Pucker Up and Get Your Vitamin C


Lemons (Citrus limon) are among the most popular citrus fruits.  They are a hybrid of the the


citron (Citrus medica), one of the original citrus fruits from which all other citrus types developed through natural hybrid speciation or artificial hybridization.  Although archaeological evidence for citrus fruits is limited, the citron is thought to have been native to the valleys at the foothills of the eastern Himalayas.

Research has shown that consuming fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C reduces the risk of heart diseases, including heart attacks and strokes.  One lemon provides about 31 mg (51% of RDI) of this important nutrient.

However, vitamin C is not lemon’s only component thought to be good for your heart.  Lemons also contain flavonoids which have neuroprotective and cardio-protective effects.  Flavonoids also have anticancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties.

A 2012 study suggests that the flavonoids in citrus fruits may help lower the risk of ischemic stroke in women.   An ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke, can happen when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood to the brain.  A study of data from nearly 70,000 women over 14 years showed a 19% decreased risk of ischemic stroke in women who ate the most citrus fruits compared to those who consumed less.

Lemons are also a decent source of potassium which can lower blood pressure and have positive effects on heart health.

Iron deficiency, which occurs when you don’t get enough iron from the foods you eat, is a leading cause of anemia.  Your body easily absorbs heme iron from fish, chicken and meat but does not absorb the non-heme iron found in plant foods as easily.  This absorption can be improved by consuming vitamin C and citric acid.  Lemons only contain a small amount of iron; however as a rich source of vitamin C and citric acid, they can help prevent anemia by improving your body’s absorption of iron from plant foods and ensuring you absorb as much iron as possible from your diet.

Citric acid in lemons may help prevent the formation of kidney stones by diluting urine and increasing its citrate content.

Lemons can be added to both savory and sweet dishes.  A squeeze of fresh lemon juice can add a delicious burst of flavor to fish, shrimp, scallops or chicken.   Brighten up a salad with fresh lemon juice, a bit of olive oil, and herbs.  Or add a splash of fresh lemon juice to a glass of water or cup of hot tea.

As is the case for many fruits and vegetables, the most nutrient-dense part of the lemon is the peel.  These whole lemon ice cubes are simple to make and a great way to add more nutrient-dense peel into your diet.  They will also add great flavor to a tall glass of water, juice blends, smoothies, soups and sauces.

Whole Lemon Ice Cubes

Chop 2 or 3 large lemons (preferably organic) and add to a high speed blender with ¼ to ½ c. spring water.  Blend until you obtain a smooth consistency, adding a bit of water if needed but be careful not to water down the mixture. Pour the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze until solid (a few hours or overnight).

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