Lemon and its health benefits

The benefits of lemon

Thanks to its unique composition and its record content of antioxidant molecules, lemon represents a real asset for health. Provided, of course, to be integrated regularly and as part of a varied and balanced diet. 

A slimming ally 

Many weight loss diets tout the use of lemon and its juice for its impact on weight loss. Obese people have been shown to have lower vitamin C levels than non-obese people, and low vitamin C levels have been linked to abdominal fat accumulation. Indeed, individuals who consume enough vitamin C oxidize 30% more body fat during a moderate exercise session compared to individuals with low vitamin C consumption. 

In short, low intakes of vitamin C would constitute a barrier to the loss of body fat in obese people. All the same, no controlled clinical study to specifically evaluate the impact of lemon consumption on weight loss has been carried out to date. It will therefore be necessary to wait for additional studies to confirm their potential effects.

Lemon and cancer

Several studies have shown that citrus consumption is linked to the prevention of certain types of cancer, such as esophageal cancer, stomach cancer, colon, mouth and pharynx cancer. According to one of these studies, a moderate consumption of citrus fruits (ie 1 to 4 servings per week) would reduce the risk of cancers affecting the digestive tract and the upper part of the respiratory system. With regard to pancreatic or prostate cancer, the studies remain controversial.

A study suggests that the daily consumption of citrus fruits combined with a high consumption of green tea (1 cup or more per day) would be associated with a greater reduction in the incidence of cancers.

Additionally, flavonoids, antioxidant compounds found in citrus fruits, have been shown to slow the proliferation of several cancer cell lines and decrease the growth of metastases. These properties could be used for the development of antitumor therapies. Other compounds contained in citrus fruits (limonoids) have also demonstrated anticancer effects in vitro or in animal models. They could decrease the proliferation of breast, stomach, lung, mouth and colon cancer cells.

Cardiovascular health  

Several epidemiological studies have shown that a regular intake of flavonoids from citrus fruits is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Flavonoids help improve coronary vasodilation, reduce the aggregation of blood platelets and prevent the oxidation of “bad” cholesterol (LDL).

Anti-inflammatory virtues

Several studies have shown that citrus flavonoids have anti-inflammatory properties. They would inhibit the synthesis and activity of mediators involved in inflammation (arachidonic acid derivatives, prostaglandins E2, F2 and thromboxanes A2).

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Positive impact on cholesterol

Flavonoids and limonoids from citrus fruits and their juices may have potential for lowering high cholesterol. Animal studies have shown that some of them lower blood cholesterol. However, these studies were not performed using compounds extracted directly from lemon or lime. The bioavailability of compounds from citrus fruits and their absorption mechanisms will have to be studied in humans before a decision can be made on their clinical efficacy.

Other Health Benefits

Among other effects observed, two limonoids present in citrus fruits (limonine and nomiline) would inhibit the replication of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), in addition to inhibiting the activity of the virus’ protease. In addition, some lemon limonoids demonstrate activity against certain pathogenic fungi. Other limonoids and certain proteins would improve the immune system in animals. These results are promising, but have not been the subject of controlled clinical studies. It is therefore impossible for the moment to transpose these effects to humans.

Several prospective and epidemiological studies have revealed that a high consumption of fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers and other chronic diseases.

Nutritionist’s word

The lemon has the advantage of being able to slip easily into the daily diet. To take advantage of its many health benefits, consider adding a squeeze of lemon to vinaigrettes, to pan-fried vegetables after cooking, to fish, to fruit and vegetable juices, to fruit salads, etc. Ideally, it is recommended not to cook the lemon in order to avoid a loss of vitamin C which is very sensitive to heat.

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