13 Research Based Health Benefits Of Lemons

Reviewed By Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Julie Freeman, MA, RDN, LDN, RYT
by Ravi Teja Tadimalla

Lemons are replete with vitamin C and other powerful nutrients.

Their juice contains 5% to 6% of citric acid, and has a pH of 2.2; this makes them a hit in culinary preparations, including salad dressings, drinks, and marinades.

Lemons are also known for their health benefits, including cardiovascular protection and possible weight loss.

In this post, we will discuss the various ways this ellipsoidal fruit can better your health and, as a consequence, your life.

13 Health Benefits of Lemons

1. Lemons Boost Your Heart Health

Lemons are among the richest sources of vitamin C (1). Studies show us that fruits and vegetables, especially those rich in vitamin C, can prevent coronary heart disease (2).

Studies also found that lemon ingestion and walking lowered blood pressure levels (3).

Citrus fruits, including lemons, contain essential flavonoids that help in the treatment of atherosclerosis. These compounds blunt the inflammatory responses in the body that can lead to cardiovascular disease (4).

2. May Help Control Weight

Some research shows that the polyphenols in lemons help suppress diet-induced obesity (5). These polyphenols were shown to suppress body weight gain and body fat accumulation.

Another study found that the lemon detox diet (organic maple and palm syrups, and lemon juice) helped reduce body fat – thereby reducing body weight and cutting the risk of cardiovascular disease (6).

Some theories also suggest that drinking hot lemon water right in the morning can boost weight loss.

However, most studies in this regard have been performed on animals. More research on humans is warranted.

3. Help Treat Kidney Stones

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Lemons contain citrate, a chemical that prevents the formation of kidney stones (7). Citrate also breaks down bigger stones, allowing them to pass easily through urine.

In a study, drinking four ounces of reconstituted lemon juice in two liters of water every day decreased the rate of stone formation (8). Citrate achieves this by binding to calcium and blocking stone formation (9).

4. Can Treat Anemia

The vitamin C in lemons promotes the absorption of iron from plant foods, thereby treating anemia (10).

Your gut absorbs the iron from animal sources more easily as compared to plant sources. The vitamin C in lemons can help in improving overall iron absorption.

5. Aid Cancer Treatment

Some observational studies found that individuals consuming citrus fruits, like lemons, had a lower risk of pancreatic cancer (11).

Similar findings have been observed in the case of stomach cancer(12).

Some experts hypothesize that the anticancer properties of lemons can be attributed to their flavonoids (13).

Certain animal studies found that D-limonene, a compound in lemon oil, may have anticancer properties (14).

6. May Boost Digestive Health

Some theories suggest that drinking lemon water in the morning can aid digestion and relieve constipation.

Drinking lemon water when you wake up may keep your digestive system moving.

We need more research on this, though. Some also claim that the detoxifying properties of lemons can boost digestion.

7. Lemons Promote Immunity

The vitamin C in lemons can promote immunity in humans. Studies show that this vitamin can reduce the duration of a cold, an ailment that occurs due to a weak immune system (15).

Lemons can also have protective effects against asthma. One study shows that individuals with asthma and other bronchial issues benefited from the consumption of vitamin C (16).

Mixing lemon with honey may also help treat cough.

8. Enhances Liver Health

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Lemons possess antioxidant properties that may enhance liver health. In one study, lemon juice showed protective effects on mice with alcohol-induced liver injury (17).

In another study, citrus fruit oil was found to improve hepatotoxicity in chickens fed with a diet containing aflatoxin (a potent hepatocarcinogen) (18).

9. May Help Fight Acne

Theories suggest that the citric acid in lemons can have a drying effect on the skin, reducing surface sebum levels. The citric acid may also have antiseptic properties, which may eliminate the acne-causing bacteria.

Studies show that vitamin C has anti-inflammatory properties and can be used for treating conditions like acne vulgaris (19).

Conversely, lemons may also cause side effects in some individuals. These include issues like burning, stinging, itching, and redness. Hence, use lemons with care. Do a patch test before use. Also, check with your doctor.

These are the ways lemons can benefit you. Lemons have also been used in a few other ways, though there is no concrete research to support their use. Anecdotal evidence supports these benefits – which we shall cover now.

10. Lemons May Reduce Wrinkles

This may have to do with the vitamin C in lemons. The nutrient boosts collagen and may help reduce wrinkles.

11. May Help Lighten Underarms

Though we don’t know how lemons can help achieve this, some anecdotal evidence suggests it works.

Cut thick slices of lemon and rub them on your underarms. Leave the juice on for 10 minutes and then wash your underarms with cool water. Pat them dry and apply moisturizer.

12. May Lighten Stretch Marks

There is very little information on how lemons can help lighten stretch marks. But anecdotal proof tells us they may work.

You can slice open a lemon and add the juice to a bowl. Apply this juice, in circular motions, on your stretch marks. Ensure the juice soaks into your skin. This may take about 5 to 10 minutes. You can then wipe it off.

Some theories suggest that the fruit acids in lemons can bleach the skin and reduce the appearance of stretch marks.

After wiping off the lemon juice, you can apply an emollient (like cocoa butter) to the stretch marks. This can soothe and soften the skin and reduce their appearance.

13. May Aid Eczema Treatment

Applying lemon juice to the affected regions may offer some relief. Apply it twice to thrice a day, allowing it to stay for 10 to 15 minutes each time.

But since there is very little information regarding this aspect, we suggest you speak to your doctor.

These are the various benefits lemons have in store for you. Yes, we know lemons are one of the richest sources of vitamin C. But there are other nutrients these fruits contain that can contribute to your health. What are they?

What Is The Nutritional Value Of Lemons?

Calorie Information
Amounts Per Selected Serving%DV
Calories61.5(257 kJ)3%
From Carbohydrate48.3(202 kJ)
From Fat5.3(22.2 kJ)
From Protein7.8(32.7 kJ)
From Alcohol0.0(0.0 kJ)
Carbohydrates
Amounts Per Selected Serving%DV
Total Carbohydrate19.8g7%
Dietary Fiber5.9g14%
Starch~
Sugars5.3g
Vitamins
Amounts Per Selected Serving%DV
Vitamin A46.6IU1%
Vitamin C112mg187%
Vitamin D~~
Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol)0.3mg2%
Vitamin K0.0mcg0%
Thiamin0.1mg6%
Riboflavin0.0mg2%
Niacin0.2mg1%
Vitamin B60.2mg8%
Folate23.3mcg6%
Vitamin B120.0mcg0%
Pantothenic Acid0.4mg4%
Choline10.8mg
Betaine~
Minerals
Amounts Per Selected Serving%DV
Calcium55.1mg6%
Iron1.3mg7%
Magnesium17.0mg4%
Phosphorus33.9mg3%
Potassium293mg8%
Sodium4.2mg0%
Zinc0.1mg4%
Copper0.1mg0%
Manganese0.1mg3%
Selenium0.8mcg1%
Fluoride

Source: USDA

A single lemon contains about 16.8 calories and 5.4 grams of carbohydrates. It also contains 30.7 mg of vitamin C (51% of Daily Value), 6.4 mcg of folate (2% of DV), 15.1 mg of calcium (2% of DV), 0.3 mg of iron (2% of DV), and 80 mg of potassium (2% of DV).

Conclusion

Lemons are quite common and easily available, and enjoying their health benefits is not difficult. They may have a role to play in cancer prevention and may even boost immunity, so you may as well start including them into your routine today.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

How to keep lemons fresh?

You can store lemons in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator. Storing them this way can keep them fresh for a long time.

How long do lemons last?

At room temperature, lemons stay fresh for about a week. In the refrigerator, they can last for up to 3 weeks. But cut lemons may last only for 4 days in a refrigerator. Storing lemons (both cut and uncut) in a plastic bag in a refrigerator can extend their shelf life.

Is a lemon the same as a lime?

They belong to the same citrus family and have the same nutritional values and benefits. The only difference lies in their appearance – while lemons are yellow and bigger, limes are green and smaller.

How many lemons can you eat in a day?

You can have 2 to 3 lemons a day. Having more may upset your stomach, and in rare cases, may even cause GERD.

Excess intake of lemons can even decay your tooth enamel, in addition to causing other side effects.Thus, be sure to brush your teeth after ingestion.

What are the other uses of lemons?

You can use lemons in the following ways:

  • Use lemon peels to clean kitchen surfaces, including microwave ovens.
  • Add lemon juice to hot water and have lemon tea.
  • You can also include lemons in your favorite pickles.
  • Use lemon zest to add flavor to foods.
  • Lemons may also repel fleas. Simply rubbing a cut lemon over your pet’s fur might help. You can also apply the juice to your pet’s fur using a dropper.

Lemon water can also have similar benefits as that of lemons.

Are lemons alkaline?

Lemons are naturally acidic (with a pH of 2). But they become alkaline once metabolized (to a pH of 7).

References

  1. Lemons, raw, with peel…” SELFNutritionData.
  2. The effect of fruit and vegetable intake…” Annals of Internal Medicine, US National Library of Medicine.
  3. Effect on blood pressure of…” Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, US National Library of Medicine.
  4. Citrus flavonoids and lipid metabolism” Current Opinion in Lipidology, US National Library of Medicine.
  5. Lemon polyphenols suppress diet-induced…” Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine.
  6. Lemon detox diet reduced body fat…” Nutrition Research, US National Library of Medicine.
  7. 6 easy ways to prevent kidney stones” National Kidney Foundation.
  8. Five ways to prevent kidney stones…” UC San Diego Health.
  9. 5 things that can help you take a...” Harvard Medical School.
  10. The effects of fruit juices and fruits…” The British Journal of Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine.
  11. Citrus fruit intake and pancreatic cancer…” Pancreas, US National Library of Medicine.
  12. Citrus fruit intake and stomach cancer…” Gastric Cancer, US National Library of Medicine.
  13. Natural products for cancer-targeted…” Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, US National Library of Medicine.
  14. Effects of D-limonene on hepatic microsomal…” Xenobiotica, US National Library of Medicine.
  15. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the…” The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, US National Library of Medicine.
  16. Vitamin C and common cold-induced asthma…” Biomed Central Journals.
  17. Protective effects of lemon juice…” Biomed Research International.
  18. Evaluation of pathological changes in broilers…” Research in Veterinary Science, US National Library of Medicine.
  19. Vitamin C in dermatology” Indian Dermatology Online Journal, US National Library of Medicine.
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Ravi Teja Tadimalla

Ravi Teja Tadimalla is an editor and a published author. He graduated from SRM University, Chennai, and has been in the digital media field for over six years. He has a Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition & Research from Wageningen University. He considers himself a sculptor born to chip away at content and reveal its dormant splendor. He started his career as a research writer, primarily focusing on health and wellness, and has over 250 articles to his credit. Ravi believes in the great possibilities of abundant health with natural foods and organic supplements. Reading and theater are his other interests.
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