Their exact origins are unknown but they are believed to come from Asian countries such as India, China and the northern parts of Burma where the locals knew of the health benefits of lemons. Around 1 A.D. they arrived in Europe but were not cultivated until the 15th century. Finally in the 18th and 19th centuries lemons made their way to the United States where they began to be used as an ingredient in recipes and drinks. Currently the Untied States ranks seventh in global lemon production, behind India, China and Mexico.
There ten varieties of lemons that are grown worldwide, but it’s the Eurkea that you will find in most supermarkets because it grows year round although their peak growing season is April to August.
Vitamins and Minerals
Lemon juice has just 29 calories in half a cup of juice (a whole lemon, when juiced, contains just three tablespoons of juice) with a trace amount of fat and a little protein. Eating the pulp will net you two and a half grams of fiber as well. Lemons are high in vitamin C but also have vitamin A, both B1 and B2 vitamins (thiamine and riboflavin), Niacin, Folate, Panthoetic Acid, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin E.
As for minerals, lemons are high in potassium and phosphorus. Other minerals found in lemons include magnesium, calcium, sodium, iron, selenium, manganese, copper and zinc.
Health Benefits of Lemons
Over the years lemon juice has been used to treat and cure many ailments and is an effective ingredient in many other treatments. It can be drunk daily as a preventative measure. Lemon juice should be your first thought whenever you need a remedy.
The juice can be used to help with indigestion such as heartburn, bloating and belching as itcan cleanse the liver and encourages it to produce more bile which aids digestion. Recent research also suggests that it helps to reduce the instance of gallstones. Constipation and bowel problems can be relieved since lemon juice helps to eliminate waste from the body quickly so a juiced lemon acts as an all round digestive system boost.
Lemon juice is good to use as flavoring for people on low-salt diets as it is high in potassium which helps to regulate blood pressure.
It can help clear up urinary tract infections and aids in treating arthritis and rheumatism because if flushes out toxins and bad bacteria.
Lemon juice has antiseptic properties and can clear up skin blemishes, reduce wrinkles and help fight ageing.
When you are sick with a cold lemon juice can decrease the amount of phlegm. It also fights throat infections, sore throats and tonsillitis thanks to its antibacterial properties. It can also be used to treat a fever by drinking the juice of one lemon mixed with warm water every hour until the fever breaks.
Respiratory disorders have been treated and cured by drinking lemon water. Diabetes can also be prevented or controlled in this way.
Feeling down? Lemon juice helps relieve mental stress and depression. It’s just the right food to eat when you need a mood boost or have trouble concentrating.
The high levels of antioxidants in lemon juice mean that it may help it preventing cancer and certainly acts to reduce the levels of toxins in the blood and skin.
The freshly squeezed juice has a great many benefits for a variety of skin conditions. Mix some lemon juice with glycerin to heal chapped skin. This works equally well on hands, legs and feet. And as a preventative there is some evidence that applying to skin before sun exposure to help prevent skin damage. If the skin has been burnt, application of the juice, although it will sting, helps to fade the scars appearance more rapidly. It also acts as a cooling agent and reduces the burning sensation.
Over the centuries, it has been used as a tonic for hair. Pouring on some lemon juice after rinsing gives it shine and volume without the use of expensive products. It will also lighten hair a few shades if used consistently over a period of time due to the bleaching effect of the acid.
The acidic nature of lemon juice gives the pulp leftover from juicing lemons the ability to soothe many bites and stings and counteracts the alkali that causes the painful sensations.
In addition to treating skin conditions by ingesting lemon juice, you can also apply it topically and let it dry on acne, eczema and blackheads. Rinse off the residue with a mixture of olive oil and water.
For best results when juicing a lemon, make sure it is at room temperature or heat in the microwave for a few seconds. Lemons should be stored in the refrigerator as they will mold quickly. Freshly squeezed lemon juice can easily be frozen to be used later. Try freezing it in ice cube molds and then storing in a bag once frozen, then you’ll be able to use the amount you want without wasting any juice.
The most common uses for lemon are to make lemonade, lemon water or add to tea and soft drinks.
Lemon can be used in a marinade to add flavor and tenderize the meat but you need to watch the meat carefully when cooking as the acids in the lemon juice will cause the meat to dry out quickly.
Lemon rind can be grated and used fresh or dry in cakes, cookies, muffins, breads, jams and jellies to add a fresh flavor or accentuate complimentary flavors.
Squeezing some lemon juice on fruits such as apples and bananas will keep them fresh looking after being cut, using the power of the antioxidants found in abundance within the juice. Mixing together lemon juice and olive oil will make a healthy salad dressing. Lemons also make good pickles which are delicacies in Eastern countries.
Some people can be allergic to lemons so if you have a bad reaction after having some lemon, consult your physician. Also children under 10 should be supervised when handling fresh lemon juice as it can cause skin irritation. Additionally the pH balance of lemons is very low and has been known to harm teeth by wearing away the enamel and causing cavities, so make sure to eat or drink something with a higher pH balance, such as cheese or milk, after consuming lemon juice.
The acidic properties and strong blend of nutrients and vitamins in lemon juice can be used in many medical and culinary situations. The health benefits of lemons stem from this fantastic mix of nutrients and can be enjoyed in drinks, dressings and desserts.
Jeff Andrews writes about the many common foods that are beneficial to your health.