Lemons and Limes – Twelve Surprising Nutritional Benefits
It makes sense to discuss the benefits of lemons and limes at the same time, as they have all but a few chemicals in common. They are delicious, refreshing fruits that taste great in water or when added to certain dishes. As it turns out, they are also great for your body!
They are good for the digestive system
Lemon and lime juice behave in a similar way to our natural digestive enzymes, which means that they can help us digest our food as well as relieve us from uncomfortable wind and bloating. Try adding lemon or lime juice to a warm glass of water when you have heartburn or indigestion.
They help protect against cancer
Lemons and limes contain compounds called limonins, which research shows can help to fight cancers of the mouth, skin, lungs, breast and stomach. There is also a connection between limonins and fighting colorectal cancers. In one important study, it was revealed that limonins were still present in the blood of subjects even after 24 hours had passed. It is thought that this persistence in the body helps to explain why limonins can be a powerful ally in the fight against cancer (as most other anti-carcinogens are available to the body for just a few hours). The kaempferol in lemons and limes has also been shown to reduce the uncontrolled cell division that is characteristic of cancer (and this element of lemons and limes appears to have a particularly strong influence on breast cancer).
They have antibiotic and antiseptic properties
Given that lemons and limes are very acidic, this makes them ideal for fighting certain infections. During a cholera epidemic in West Africa, it was discovered that drinking lime juice appeared to protect citizens against contracting cholera bacteria. Further studies supported that lime juice did indeed play a role in whether people would contract cholera. It is thought that this fascinating health benefit comes from flavonoids called flavonol glycosides.
They are good for cardiovascular health
Vitamin C can help to protect the body against free radicals, which are capable of making cholesterol dangerously more likely to build up and line the walls of your arteries. Lemons and limes happen to contain a lot of vitamin C, so they will make you less likely to develop heart disease or diabetes (or slow the progression of either disease if you already suffer from it).
They can help tired feet
If your feet are aching and tired after a long day of walking or working, try mixing lemon juice with warm water to create a relaxing and refreshing bath for your feet. You can also try slicing a lemon or lime in half and then rubbing the slice against the sorest areas of your feet.
They help to protect against arthritis
Free radicals that find their way into the body can also end up causing painful inflammation. Since vitamin C helps to fight these free radicals, eating lemons and limes may help to reduce inflammation in arthritic people (whether that arthritis is rheumatoid or osteoarthritis). Some studies also suggest that those who eat the least vitamin C are most likely to develop some form of arthritis, so if you don’t have arthritis then it is worth eating plenty of lemons and limes (among other fruits rich in vitamin C) to help guard against the development of arthritis.
Lemon juice can help to prevent (and get rid of) kidney stones
The American Urological Association has conducted research that proves lemon juice is capable of breaking down or preventing kidney stones. This is because lemon juice leads to the production of urinary citrate, which in turn prevents the formation of crystals.
They can help with weight loss
Lemons and limes contain no fat, no cholesterol, and around a mere twenty calories each. This makes them idea fruits to snack on (if you like sour treats), and also ideal to include as part of a meal while dieting. Further, adding lemon or lime to water can help to discourage you from the drinking sodas that contain huge amounts of sugar and calories.
They help maintain healthy blood pressure
It has been speculated that the potassium in lemons and limes can help to keep your blood pressure within healthy limits.
Lemon juice is great for your hair
Many people are aware of how hair can benefit from lemon juice. It can help to treat scalp problems such as dandruff, and it also makes your hair brighter (as well as shinier).
They help to strengthen your immune system
The vitamin C in lemons and limes also aids in developing a stronger immune system. This means that lemons and limes will help prevent you from falling ill as a result of viral and bacterial infections.
They are good for respiratory health
It is thought that lemons and limes can help to treat some of the respiratory symptoms that develop during cold or flu infections (such as persistent coughing and a sore throat). There is some speculation that they might also help to treat asthma, but this is contentious and requires substantial further research.
As is obvious from the above health benefits, lemons and limes are an excellent choice if you want to increase your daily intake of fruits and vegetables. You can incorporate them into your diet in a number of enjoyable ways. For example, try slicing them and placing them on top of fish before baking, or squeeze lemon and lime juice into salsa.
Health Disclaimer. Copyright ©2012. Published with permission. Dr. E. C. Gordon (PhD) has studied psychology, health, philosophy, relationship counselling and sociology.