Lemon-aid? The citrus fruit that has you covered
Sunday morning brunch. Plaid pajamas, the aroma of a freshly printed newspaper and a stack of pancakes topped with fresh berries, banana slices and – if you’re Morgan Slater – doused in lemon.
“Lemon is the perfect solution. I don’t want all the artificial sugar found in syrup, but I still want that same sweet taste,” Slater said.
An increase of Chapman students are making use of the citrus, sipping lemon water to stay alert in night classes or snagging an extra fruit from the cafeteria. For students like Slater, a freshman with an undeclared major, lemon is a lifestyle – and that may not be so bad after all.
History has shown that lemons have been used for antiseptic purposes for centuries. In fact, it is estimated that the first lemon was in existence no later than the first century when it was discovered in India as a means of treating scurvy.
Today lemons are more popular than ever, finding ways to squeeze into our daily routine. So what’s all the hype about? Certified nutrition consultant and owner of nutrition consultation company Love to Live Nutrition, Lorin Martini takes a look at the many health benefits of this tiny yellow citrus, from the rind to its juicy center.
“Lemons are diet powerhouses full of nutritional value and flavor. There are so many good things in such a tiny fruit that you want to make sure you are eating the entire thing, not just the juice,” Martini said.
The biggest plus of citrus fruits like lemon is the horde of flavonoids that have antioxidant properties, which work to build the immune system against infection and disease. These antioxidants halt oxygen damage, similar to lemon juice preventing a sliced apple from browning.
That boost is what drives students like Slater to use lemon juice by the gallon.
“My friends think it’s strange that I put lemon on almost everything I eat, but I like the feeling it gives me. I can almost feel it strengthening my immune system,” Slater said.
Flavonoids also inhibit the oxidation of bad cholesterol, which is a major culprit of coronary heart disease according to Martini.
Citrus fruits like lemon can yield a variety of vitamins, with an average-sized lemon giving a whopping 45 mg of vitamin C. This accounts for exactly 75 percent of your daily requirement, so go ahead and add some tang to your evening tea.
“Wound healing and antibacterial attributes of vitamin C make lemon an active acne fighter,” Martini said. “Vitamin C also keeps gums healthy by aiding in calcium metabolism. In fact, bleeding gums are a sign of deficiency in the vitamin.”
Speaking of tea, lemon juice has been found to be more effective in cancer prevention than the renowned medicinal green tea.
“Limonin is a cancer inhibiting compound found to be highly concentrated in the peel oil of all citrus fruits. This has been recently shown to kill harmful strains of bacteria and reduce the formation of colon and stomach cancers,” Martini said.
A study by the U.S. Agricultural Research Service concluded that limonin can stay active in the body for up to 24 hours, which is 4-6 hours longer than the anticancer components found in green tea.
The benefit may be enough to sway even the most fanatical tea-drinkers, such as junior business major Maryanne Connell.
“I use lemon on a lot of things, but never thought of adding it to my tea. I drink it all the time, so why not get the most out of it?” Connell said. “Lemon gives my tea that extra kick and I feel even more energized.”
That extra kick can be used to add zest to just about any meal.
“I use lemons practically every day because I love the versatility. It can accent certain foods and heighten the flavor of any dish,” said junior chemistry major Chelsea Ngo. “It makes my mouth water just thinking about it.”
Lemons may be great for the body, but what about the soul? A study by the Graduate School of Veterinary Science at Yamaguchi University has shown that lemon oil possesses various antidepressant qualities which may lower stress and anxiety – something every college student could use less of.
Martini has her own solution when life gets strenuous.
“I like to make a fresh cup of tea when I start feeling under the weather or need a boost by mixing one lemon cut in halves, two inches of ginger root and four cups of boiling water. I cover it and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Raw honey can also add some zest,” Martini said.
For a double dose of physical and mental benefits, put lemon slices in your water during workouts. Lemons contain pectin, a soluble fiber that has been proven to help with weight loss. The scent of lemon oil can also keep you energized throughout a workout, allowing for a weight deficit and a self-esteem boost.
“Lemon can suppress the appetite and increase the metabolic rate, so it is great for weight loss candidates,” Martini said.
Deter muscle soreness and combine three juiced lemons with two tablespoons of honey. Microwave in a small bowl until hot and apply the mixture with a towel to sore areas. Honey contains similar antiseptic properties and the aroma is a lot more alluring than a musty heating pad.
“It’s amazing that lemon can be so diverse. I can drink it in my water during my workout and put the juice on my muscles afterward,” Slater said. “People would use it a lot more if they knew all the crazy things a little lemon could do.”