Lemons: Keep your heart healthy and fight kidney stones

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According to Links (2021), lemon averts kidney stones and kill cancer cells.  The story of lemon is link to scientist James Lind who conducted   experiments on board a naval ship in 1747, showing that lemon nutrition could help ward off scurvy. India, Mexico and China are leaders in lemon production.

Scientific benefits

  1. Support immune health

Lemons are loaded with vitamin C, significant in immune health. lemons are also loaded with antioxidants that can help fight inflammation and promote improved immunity.

One study by Wintergerst et al., (2006), demonstrates that adequate intakes of vitamin C and zinc ameliorate symptoms and shorten the duration of respiratory tract infections including the common cold. Furthermore, vitamin C and zinc reduce the incidence and improve the outcome of pneumonia, malaria, and diarrhea infections, especially in children in developing countries.

Another study by Puertollano et al.,(2011) also demonstrates that, antioxidants in lemons  protect the immune cells by neutralizing harmful free radicals and keeping the body free of infections caused by bacteria or viruses.

  1. Support cardio health

Links (2021) agrees that one of the most impressive lemon nutrition benefits is its effect on heart health. This is due to its high vitamin C content.

This was further cemented in a study conducted by Joshipura  et al.,(2001) which examines the diets of 126,399 adults over a period of eight to 14 years and found that each serving of fruits and vegetables was associated with a 4 percent decreased risk of coronary heart disease. Interestingly enough, leafy green vegetables and vitamin C fruits and veggies, like lemons, had the greatest impact. Another study by Kato et al., (2014) also found that both walking and eating lemons every day were associated with a decrease in blood pressure.

  1. Fight Cancer

Lemons are loaded with antioxidants and cancer-fighting compounds. One test –tube study by Alshatwi et al., (2011) demonstrated that lemon fruit extract helped kill breast cancer cells.  Additionally, another test-tube study by Raimondo et al., (2015) also demonstrated that the components in lemon juice successfully inhibited the growth of several types of cancer cells.

Lemons also contain compounds like hesperidin and d-limonene. These have both been proven in one study by Lee et al., (2010) as cancer-preventing properties.

  1. Averts Kidney Stones

According to study, incorporating a serving or two of lemons into your diet may be able to help fights kidney stones. This is supported by one study by Penniston et al.,(2010) which shows that the Citric acid  in lemon has been proven to increase urine volume and aid in kidney stone prevention.

Another small study by Kang et al., (2007) which retrospectively evaluated the impact of long-term lemonade therapy on urinary metabolic parameters and stone formation in patients with hypocitraturic nephrolithiasis. The result indicates that stone formation dropped significantly, from an average of one kidney stone per year down to just 0.13 per year.

Another study by Aras et al., (2008) demonstrates that treating kidney stone patients with lemon juice increased urinary citrate levels and decreased the amount of calcium in the urine. This suggests that lemon juice may be a potential alternative treatment for relieving kidney stone symptoms.

  1. Increases Iron Absorption

There are many groups of people at risk for iron deficiency, says Links (2021). Vegans and vegetarians, for example, consume a type of iron that is not as well-absorbed by the body. Additionally, women of reproductive age are at a higher risk due to blood loss through menstruation. One study by Hallberg  et al.,(1989), demonstrates that vitamin C, which is plentiful in lemons, can help enhance iron absorption to prevent conditions like iron-deficiency anemia.

This is further cemented by a similar study by Hallberg  and Hulthén (2000), which demonstrated that taking 100 milligrams of vitamin C with a meal increased iron absorption by 67 percent. Limes, oranges, peppers, berries and broccoli are some additional vitamin C foods that you can include in your diet to boost iron absorption.

  1. Dermatological Health

Antioxidants help fight off free radicals and prevent oxidative damage, which accounts for the many benefits of lemon water for skin. The buildup of free radicals contributes to the aging process, resulting in changes like wrinkles, age spots, dryness and decreased elasticity.

One study by Fusco et al., (2007) agrees that antioxidants could be an effective way to slow aging and improve skin health. An earlier study by Arican et al., (2005) proved that patients with acne have increased levels of oxidative stress. The authors recommended that using antioxidants could be beneficial in combination with traditional treatment.

For best results, according to Links (2021) try applying a bit of lemon juice to your skin or mixing with your favorite skin care products. Besides lemons, other ingredients that should be staples in your natural skin care routine include tea tree oil, coconut oil and avocado.

  1. Increases Weight Loss

To compare, one cup of orange juice contains 112 calories and nearly 26 grams of carbs. On the other hand, there are just six calories in lemon water without sugar.

Links (2021) is of the view that, while there are a good amount of carbs in lemon juice, diluting it with water significantly slashes the carbs in lemon water, dropping it down to just two grams per serving.

“Theoretically, if you traded one cup of juice or soda for one cup of lemon water every day for a year, you would save nearly 39,000 calories. That means that you could lose up to 11 pounds even without making any other changes in your diet. While lemon benefits weight loss, it should be combined with a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle to really get the results that you want in terms of weight loss,” she added.

  1. Antioxidant Powerhouse

In a recent study by Klimek-Szczykutowicz et al., (2020)antioxidants present in lemon help improve skin health and support healthy aging, but they have also  exhibited radical scavenging activity and protection for the body from DNA mutations that lead to disease. Lemon contains powerful flavonoids, including quercetin, luteolin, apigenin and hesperidin. Quercetin, for example, helps reduce damaging inflammation, may work to relieve allergy symptoms and helps fight pain.

Nutritional contents

One large lemon without the peel according to fdc.nal.usda

contains :

  • 24 calories
  • 8 grams carbohydrates
  • 0.9 gram protein
  • 0.3 gram fat
  • 2.4 grams dietary fiber
  • 44.5 milligrams vitamin C (74 percent Daily Value)
  • 116 milligrams potassium (3 percent DV)
  • 0.5 milligram iron (3 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligram vitamin B6 (3 percent DV)

lemons also contain a small amount of thiamin, folate, pantothenic acid, calcium, magnesium and copper.

Lemons vs. Limes

For Links (2021), Lemons and limes are used interchangeably in many instances, and when it comes to taste, it’s easy to get these two fruits mixed up. Both have a sour and tart flavor that adds the perfect amount of zing to drinks and recipes.

However, there are quite a few differences between the two fruits, starting with their appearance. Limes are bright green while lemons are vibrant yellow. Additionally, limes are typically slightly smaller than lemons. Limes tend to be less sour and have a smoother taste as well. Both are used similarly, though, and can often be swapped in many recipes.

When it comes to nutrition, the benefits of lime are not quite as impressive as those of lemons. Lime nutrition contains just over half of the amount of vitamin C and contains slightly more carbs and less protein per gram. The lemon nutrition profile is also a bit more extensive, boasting a higher amount of many nutrients, such as folate and vitamin B6.

Warning signs

lemons can be eaten and enjoyed with minimal risk of side effects. Though, some people may want to consider limiting their intake.

Links (2021) avers that, Citrus fruit allergies are uncommon but have been reported and can cause food allergy symptoms like hives, swelling, asthma and flushed skin. If you experience any negative symptoms after eating lemons, be sure to discontinue use immediately and talk to your doctor.

Although the lemon nutrition profile is pretty impressive, it is definitely possible to overdo it. Because of the citric acid found in lemons, eating too many can cause the enamel on your teeth to erode, resulting in increased sensitivity.

Finally, applying lemon directly to your skin can increase sensitivity to UV rays, so be sure to wear sunscreen or keep sun exposure in moderation to avoid a sunburn.

Take Home

  • Lemons are a sweet and an excellent source of vitamin C, antioxidants and fiber, helping you get these important nutrients daily.
  • Lemon peel, juices and extracts have been associated with a number of health benefits. Studies show that they may improve immunity, enhance heart and skin health, reduce the risk of kidney stones, help fight off cancer, boost iron absorption, and aid in weight loss.

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The writer is on a mission to provide you and your family with the highest quality nutrition tips, scientific herbs and healthy recipes in the world.

DISCLAIMER This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnosis and treatments. Remember to always consult your healthcare provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.

The writer is an honorary Professor of Holistic   & Naturopathic Medicine, chartered Management Consultant (ChMC), Researcher and President, Nyarkotey College of Holistic Medicine. Currently, LLB level 300 law student. Contact: 0241083423/0541234556

References

  1. Rachel Links(2021) The Top Benefits of Lemon Nutrition (Plus How to Use Lemons). https://draxe.com/nutrition/lemon-nutrition/
  2. Wintergerst ES, Maggini S, Hornig DH. Immune-enhancing role of vitamin C and zinc and effect on clinical conditions. Ann Nutr Metab. 2006;50(2):85-94. doi: 10.1159/000090495. Epub 2005 Dec 21. PMID: 16373990.
  3. Puertollano MA, Puertollano E, de Cienfuegos GÁ, de Pablo MA. Dietary antioxidants: immunity and host defense. Curr Top Med Chem. 2011;11(14):1752-66. doi: 10.2174/156802611796235107. PMID: 21506934.
  4. Joshipura KJ, Hu FB, Manson JE, Stampfer MJ, Rimm EB, Speizer FE, Colditz G, Ascherio A, Rosner B, Spiegelman D, Willett WC. 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. PMID: 11412050.
  5. Kato, Y., Domoto, T., Hiramitsu, M., Katagiri, T., Sato, K., Miyake, Y., Aoi, S., Ishihara, K., Ikeda, H., Umei, N., Takigawa, A., & Harada, T. (2014). Effect on blood pressure of daily lemon ingestion and walking. Journal of nutrition and metabolism2014, 912684. https://doi.org/10.1155/2014/912684
  6. Alshatwi AA, Shafi G, Hasan TN, Al-Hazzani AA, Alsaif MA, Alfawaz MA, Lei KY, Munshi A. Apoptosis-mediated inhibition of human breast cancer cell proliferation by lemon citrus extract. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2011;12(6):1555-9. PMID: 22126498
  7. Raimondo S, Naselli F, Fontana S, Monteleone F, Lo Dico A, Saieva L, Zito G, Flugy A, Manno M, Di Bella MA, De Leo G, Alessandro R. Citrus limon-derived nanovesicles inhibit cancer cell proliferation and suppress CML xenograft growth by inducing TRAIL-mediated cell death. Oncotarget. 2015 Aug 14;6(23):19514-27. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.4004. PMID: 26098775; PMCID: PMC4637302.
  8. Lee CJ, Wilson L, Jordan MA, Nguyen V, Tang J, Smiyun G. Hesperidin suppressed proliferations of both human breast cancer and androgen-dependent prostate cancer cells. Phytother Res. 2010 Jan;24 Suppl 1: S15-9. doi: 10.1002/ptr.2856. Erratum in: Phytother Res. 2010 Apr;24(4):632. PMID: 19548283.
  9. Penniston KL, Steele TH, Nakada SY. Lemonade therapy increases urinary citrate and urine volumes in patients with recurrent calcium oxalate stone formation. Urology. 2007 Nov;70(5):856-60. doi: 10.1016/j.urology.2007.06.1115. Epub 2007 Oct 24. PMID: 17919696.
  10. Kang DE, Sur RL, Haleblian GE, Fitzsimons NJ, Borawski KM, Preminger GM. Long-term lemonade based dietary manipulation in patients with hypocitraturic nephrolithiasis. J Urol. 2007 Apr;177(4):1358-62; discussion 1362; quiz 1591. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2006.11.058. PMID: 17382731.
  11. Aras Kalfazade N, Tuğcu V, Kemahli E, Ozbay B, Polat H, Taşçi AI. Can lemon juice be an alternative to potassium citrate in the treatment of urinary calcium stones in patients with hypocitraturia? A prospective randomized study. Urol Res. 2008 Dec;36(6):313-7. doi: 10.1007/s00240-008-0152-6. Epub 2008 Oct 23. PMID: 18946667.
  12. Hallberg L, Brune M, Rossander L. The role of vitamin C in iron absorption. Int J Vitam Nutr Res Suppl. 1989; 30:103-8. PMID: 2507689.
  13. Hallberg L, Hulthén L. Prediction of dietary iron absorption: an algorithm for calculating absorption and bioavailability of dietary iron. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 May;71(5):1147-60. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/71.5.1147. Erratum in: Am J Clin Nutr 2000 Nov;72(5):1242. Erratum in: Am J Clin Nutr 2001 Aug;74(2):274. Erratum in: Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Nov;84(5):1253. PMID: 10799377.
  14. Fusco, D., Colloca, G., Lo Monaco, M. R., & Cesari, M. (2007). Effects of antioxidant supplementation on the aging process. Clinical interventions in aging2(3), 377–387.
  15. Arican, O., Kurutas, E. B., & Sasmaz, S. (2005). Oxidative stress in patients with acne vulgaris. Mediators of inflammation2005(6), 380–384. https://doi.org/10.1155/MI.2005.380
  16. Klimek-Szczykutowicz, M., Szopa, A., & Ekiert, H. (2020). Citrus limon(Lemon) Phenomenon-A Review of the Chemistry, Pharmacological Properties, Applications in the Modern Pharmaceutical, Food, and Cosmetics Industries, and Biotechnological Studies. Plants (Basel, Switzerland)9(1), 119. https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9010119

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