As you may know by now, there’s a holiday for almost everything these days—and today is no exception: Happy National Lemonade Day! While lemonade itself can be a sugar bomb, I’ll happily espouse the health benefits of its number 1 ingredient: the lemon.
This sour fruit packs a punch when it comes to flavor, but did you also know it’s high in Vitamin C and soluble fiber, making it an excellent heart-healthy choice? Research shows that eating fruits rich in Vitamin C can help protect you against coronary disease.
Vitamin C is also important in the formation of collagen, a protein in your body which supports the health and growth of your skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments—so lemons can play an important role in both your inner and outer health!
Lemons are also useful in protecting against anemia and other kinds of iron deficiency. Although lemons themselves aren’t iron-rich, they help increase your body’s absorption of iron from non-meat sources. As you may know, your body does a much better job at absorbing iron from heme sources—e.g., meat, poultry and fish—than it does from non-heme sources like fruits and vegetables. But the combination of citric acid and Vitamin C in lemons has been known to help improve that absorption, making it a great choice for vegetarians especially.
Lemons also contain the plant compounds hesperidin and diosmin, both of which are known to lower cholesterol.
And incorporating more lemons into your diet might even reduce your risk for stroke, according to this study. Data collected from almost 70,000 women over 14 years showed that those who ate higher amounts of flavonoids—a compound found in citrus (as well as red wine and chocolate)—reduced their risk of stroke by 19%.
If you’re inspired to incorporate more lemons into your diet, here are a couple tips:
- Pick your lemons when they’re at their ripest; unlike other kinds of fruits or vegetables, they don’t continue to ripen once picked.
- Squeezing a lemon over a salad may reduce the need for salt.
- Add lemons to water for a beverage that keeps you hydrated without the added sugar of most juices.
- Add a squeeze to your rice while cooking to prevent sticking and clumping.
- Lemons have the unique benefit of meshing seamlessly with both sweet and savory recipes—so try including it in almost anything you make to see if you can rev up the flavor! (If you need an idea, here’s a recipe of mine that includes both sweet and savory flavors: my toasted quinoa with prunes and lemon.)