Lemon, scientifically known as Citrus limon belongs to the family Rutaceae. The origin of lemon is unknown, although many have argued that is first grown around the region of Burma, China or northeast India, before making its way into Europe and other parts of the world. You will agree with me that lemons are now a common and important ingredient in most households and industries, worldwide. In fact, before fermentation processes of production were devised, lemons were the primary source of commercial citric acid production.
Speaking about how good lemons are for you to eat raises the question of its nutritional composition and value. According to Worlds Healthiest foods, just a whole raw lemon contains 139 percent of the daily recommended vitamin C intake and has 22 calories. Of course vitamin C is a nutrient your body needs steadily as it is one of the most important antioxidants found in nature. Other substances which can be beneficial to your body are the flavonoids, organic acids, and terpenes.
Lemon as an antioxidant
Vitamin C is a very important antioxidant found in high quantity in lemons. Antioxidants act by travelling through the body and neutralizing any free radicals it comes into contact with in the aqueous environment of the body, both outside and inside of cells. These free radicals are capable of interacting with healthy human cells by damaging them and their membranes, leading to inflammation and increased aging. According to the National Cancer Institute, at high concentrations, however, free radicals can be hazardous to the body and damage all major components of cells, including DNA, proteins, and cell membranes. The damage to cells caused by free radicals, especially the damage to DNA, may play a role in the development of cancer and other health conditions.
Flavonoids in lemon
The main flavonoids found in lemon are hesperidin and diosmin, which are present in both its peel and pulp. These bioflavonoids perform many functional roles in protecting the blood vessels, acting as antioxidants (just like vitamin C), and as anticarcinogens in preventing cancerous growths.
These organic acids include citric, formic, malic, and acetic acid, which show great antiseptic properties. Citric acid being the most abundant organic acid in lemon helps prevent the formation of kidney stones by dissolving them.
Terpenes are responsible for the unique aroma of citrus fruits, and are found in the peel. D-limonene is a particular terpene that predominates in lemon. Many researches have proven it to possess great anticarcinogenic and detoxifying effect. This study proved its anticancer effect, and its ability to dissolve cholesterol.
After taking a look at the above nutritive and non-nutritive components of lemon, you will never ask again whether lemons are good for you to eat or not. However, when eating lemons to gain maximum benefit for most of the beneficial effects mentioned above, it is recommended you consume the whole fruit rather than its juice alone. This is because the plant compounds responsible for most of its effect are found in higher quantities in a whole lemon fruit than in a juice form.
And hey! When taking lemons, don’t suck on its juice directly without dilution, as the acids present therein can cause your enamel to wear away, predisposing you to tooth decay and cavities.