The following article was written by Heinen’s Chief Dietitian, Melanie Jatsek RD, LD.
A squirt or two of this lip-puckering fruit makes water more palatable, prevents apples from browning and balances the flavor of your favorite fish. Indeed, the lively lemon is a gift to your palate and plate, but what’s more impressive is the impact it can have on your health when you make it a regular part of your daily diet.
Even though lemons are technically fruit, I treat them more like a functional food “supplement”—an ingredient I add to my daily smoothie, peel and all! Read on to learn what this sunny citrus fruit can offer you…all for less than $1.00 a day.
Lemons are Full of Flavonoids
Flavonoids are a group of natural substances found in fruits and vegetables that perform the important role of neutralizing damaging free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules responsible for premature aging and chronic health problems, like cardiovascular disease and cancer.
The flavonoid in citrus that’s most abundant in lemons is called eriocitrin. This powerful antioxidant can support your body by:
- Removing fat from the liver
- Balancing cholesterol by improving HDL, LDL and triglyceride levels
- Controlling blood sugar and decreasing glycation (an undesirable process that leads to impaired elasticity of blood vessels, skin and tendons)
- Lowering oxidative stress
- Protecting the integrity of capillaries and improving circulation
- Acting as an antimicrobial agent
The Appeal of Lemon Peels
It makes me sad to think of the number of lemon peels I fed my garbage disposal over the years. Sure, my sink smelled like sunshine, but I missed out on so many benefits!
Lemon peels are high in fiber for digestive health, immune-strengthening vitamin C and D-limonene, a plant compound with potential anticancer effects.
It’s been said that the mouth is the gateway to the body because poor oral health can lead to a whole slew of health problems. Lucky for us, lemon peels contain powerful antibacterial properties that may inhibit the growth of disease-causing bacteria.
Tangy Ways to Add Lemons to Your Life
Be sure to wash and thoroughly scrub lemons before using them in recipes. Here are my favorite ways to use whole lemons and lemon juice:
- Lively Lemon Tonic: In a blender or food processor, blend one whole sliced lemon with 12 ounces of filtered water and a couple drops of SweetLeaf stevia or one Trace Minerals Power Pak.
- Sunshine Smoothie: Cut one whole lemon into chunks and drop into your favorite smoothie. Blend until smooth. The combination of frozen strawberries, lemons, Garden of Life vanilla protein powder, Heinen’s fresh ground cashew butter and a 1-inch piece of fresh ginger makes for a perfectly well-balanced breakfast or lunch smoothie.
- Morning Wake-Up Call: Add one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to 16 ounces of water and guzzle first thing in the morning.
- Blood Sugar Balancer: Into 8 ounces of hot water, mix one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice with one tablespoon of Bragg apple cider vinegar. Drink before dinner to help lower the glycemic response of your meal.
- Flavor-Booster: Perk up salads and yogurts with a teaspoon of fresh lemon zest.
Lemons are a refreshingly inexpensive way to upgrade the nutritional quality of your meals. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that success comes easier when you keep things simple. So, when Heinen’s hands you lemons, make some lemon water and drink it every day!