Lemons have been renowned for their health benefits throughout recorded history. Although it’s precise country of origin is unknown it seems they first grew in southern India, China and Burma, and were a genetic cross between citron and sour orange. Since then they have been grown and consumed across the world. Currently the countries that grow the largest numbers of lemons are India and Mexico.
Health Benefits of Lemons
Lemons are a great source of vitamin C and also contain beneficial amounts of other many nutrients, such as: potassium, iron, calcium, fiber, thiamine, riboflavin and vitamin B6.
Potassium is needed for aiding cell function within the body, and is also needed to maintain the functions of various muscles including the heart.
Lemons are very low in saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol, and have a whole range of health benefits.
The high vitamin C content means that lemon juice can be great for healthy looking skin. Its anti-bacterial properties promote clear skin and can speed up healing and relieve itching.
These properties can also be used to freshen the breath. Chewing on a slice of lemon can take away lingering odors.
The juice can also be used to combat toothache, easing the pain,reducing any swelling and can also stem bleeding.
Lemon juice mixed with honey and warm water is a traditional remedy for fevers, and is effective in lowering high temperatures and combating shivering and chills. It can also help with constipation.
There is evidence that the substance known as folate found in lemon juice may have benefits to the child if taken by the mother just before and during pregnancy. This include the reduction of spinal defects and an increase in red blood cell creation via the bone marrow.
Side Effects of Lemon Juice
The are no known side effects to consuming lemons or lemon juice, but there is a possibility that very high doses of the juice may have harmful effects. Of more concern is the possibility of taking too high a dose of one or more of the vitamins and nutrients in lemons. This will likely be no more than an upset stomach, but the citric acid may also damage teeth.
The recent craze for lemon juice diets can also cause issues, as eating little except lemon juice can cause the body to lose weight too fast , and this can result in extra fat storage and cause fatigue, and the body reacts to the sudden lack of food. These kinds of diets are risky and not recommended.
Use of Lemon in Recipes
Lemons have been used for cooking by many cultures around the world. As well as the ubiquitous lemonade, it can be used with many meat and vegetable dishes. It partners especially well with fish and chicken as a flavoring but also as a tenderizing agent, breaking down the fibers within the meat. It can however dry out meat during the cooking process.
Lemon is also one of the most popular dessert flavors. It’s natural tang and sweetness go well with many hot and cold sweet dishes and drinks.
The unique citrus tang the lemon offers has the effect of enriching flavor, especially bringing out the flavor of herbs and spices. It is considered by some to be almost as important and widely used as a seasoning as salt and pepper.
A quick and easy recipe that takes full advantage of this flavor enhancing property is lemon salsa:
You simply cut the rind and pith from the lemons, then chop them into small chunks and place in a bowl with the finely chopped red onions. Stir in the chopped (or ripped by hand) herbs, olive oil and seasoning.
This salsa is a perfect light and tangy accompaniment to fish, seafood and chicken.
There is very little negative to say about lemons – they are low calorie, low in fat, tasty and nutritious.