Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Lemons – Benefits of Drinking Lemon Water

Lemons are a rich source of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant. In fact, one squeezed lemon provides around 21% of a person’s daily value (DV).
Like other citrus fruits — including oranges, grapefruit, and limes — lemons are rich in flavonoids. These are compounds that help boost health and fight disease.
Aside from that, lemons contain few nutrients. Lemon water contains very little protein, fat, carbohydrate, or sugar, and it contains only trace amounts of other vitamins and minerals, including potassium, folate, and some B vitamins.
According to the United States Department for Agriculture database, the nutrient breakdown for lemon water containing one 48 gram (g) squeezed lemonTrusted Source is as follows:

10.6 calories
18.6 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, or 21% DV
9.6 micrograms (mcg) of folate, or 2% DV
49.4 mg of potassium, or 1% DV
0.01 mg of vitamin B-1, or 1% DV
0.01 mg of vitamin B-2, or 1% DV
0.06 mg of vitamin B-5, or 1% DV
Although a single glass does not seem to provide a lot of nutrients, lemon water is a healthful, low calorie, and low sugar beverage that can boost a person’s vitamin C intake.

For comparison, replacing the lemon with the juice of half an orangeTrusted Source (weighing 43 g) would provide almost twice as many calories, about three times as much sugar, and 24% DV of vitamin C.
The nutritional value of each glass of lemon water depends on how much lemon juice it contains, as well as any other ingredients.
Due to its high vitamin C levels, flavonoid content, and acidity, drinking lemon water may have several health benefits.
The following sections will discuss these in more detail.

Support Heart Health
Lemons are a good source of vitamin C.
One lemon provides about 31 mg of vitamin C, which is 51% of the reference daily intake (RDI).
Research shows that eating fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke .
However, it’s not only the vitamin C that is thought to be good for your heart. The fiber and plant compounds in lemons could also significantly lower some risk factors for heart disease .
For instance, one study revealed that eating 24 grams of citrus fiber extract daily for a month reduced total blood cholesterol levels .
Plant compounds found in lemons — namely hesperidin and diosmin — have also been found to lower cholesterol.

Help Control Weight
Antioxidants and flavonoids
Lemons contain vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, and are a source of plant compounds called flavonoids, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Antioxidants are compounds that help protect the body’s cells from damage. By reducing cell damage, antioxidants reduce the risk of many health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer.
Antioxidants do this by mopping up free radicals, which are harmful, disease-causing compounds in the body created by oxidative stress.
Citrus flavonoids also reduce inflammation in the body.

Research Trusted Source has linked chronic inflammation with increased oxidative stress and the risk of certain health conditions, including arthritis, diabetes, autoimmune conditions, and cancer.
One 2019 review Trusted Source reports that the antioxidants and flavonoids in citrus fruits can improve heart health and metabolic health markers, including glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, and fat metabolism.
Vitamin C is also importantTrusted Source for immune system function, wound healing, and helping the body absorb iron from foods.

Read about the best foods for vitamin C here.

Lemons are often promoted as a weight loss food, and there are a few theories as to why this is.
One common theory is that the soluble pectin fiber in them expands in your stomach, helping you feel full for longer.
That said, not many people eat lemons whole. And because lemon juice contains no pectin, lemon juice drinks will not promote fullness in the same way.
Another theory suggests that drinking hot water with lemon will help you lose weight.
However, drinking water is known to temporarily increase the number of calories you burn, so it may be the water itself that is helping with weight loss — not the lemon .
Other theories suggest that the plant compounds in lemons may aid weight loss.
Research shows that plant compounds in lemon extracts may help prevent or reduce weight gain in a number of ways .

Protect Against Anemia
Iron deficiency anemia is quite common. It occurs when you don’t get enough iron from the foods you eat.
Lemons contain some iron, but they primarily prevent anemia by improving your absorption of iron from plant foods.
Your gut absorbs iron from meat, chicken, and fish (known as heme iron) very easily, while iron from plant sources (non-heme iron) not as easily. However, this absorption can be improved by consuming vitamin C and citric acid.
Because lemons contain both vitamin C and citric acid, they may prog that you absorb as much iron as possible from your diet.

Kidney stones
Some studies suggest that drinking lemon water may help treat kidney stones. It appears to be most effective alongside conventional therapy, but it may also be a useful alternative treatment.
Kidney stones are a buildup of minerals that collect in the kidneys. They are usually made up of calcium oxate. The most common treatment is a compound called citrate.
Increasing the amount of citrate in the body prevents kidney stones from forming by stopping calcium from binding with other compounds.
Lemon water contains high amounts of citrate. According to a 2015 review Trusted Source, numerous studies have found that citrus fruits, including lemon, can increase urine levels of citrate, which may help treat kidney stones.
A lack of water in the body is a common cause of kidney stones. Drinking more water can therefore help prevent kidney stones, regardless of whether or not there is lemon in it.

The benefits of water
Lemon water is water with lemon juice added, which means that it has all the benefits of regular water.
Drinking plenty of water has benefits for:

Weight loss: It can increase feelings of fullness and boost metabolism slightly, which can help with weight loss.
Mental health: It can optimize mood and memory.
Digestive health: It can help relieve constipation.
Exercise performance: It can improve athletic performance.

Lemon water alkalizes the body
According to proponents of the alkaline diet, foods leave an “ash” in the system that influences the pH of a person’s body — that is, how acidic or alkaline it becomes.
Some suggest that lemon water is alkalizing. However, what a person eats or drinks does not affect the acidity of their blood or body cells.
Although consuming more alkaline foods can be healthful, because these include fruits and vegetables, the health benefits are unlikely to come from their effects on the body’s acidity levels.

Lemon water fights cancer
Some sources claim that lemon water could help prevent cancer. This is based on the alkaline diet theory and is built on the premise that certain cancer cells cannot thrive in an alkaline environment.
The American Institute for Cancer Research state that this claim is false, since the foods a person eats does not affect the acidity of their blood or body cells.

Lemon water cleanses and detoxes
Water helps eliminate waste from the body through urine and healthy bowel movements. However, there is no evidence to suggest that lemon water is better than plain water for this.
In fact, most claims that foods or beverages can cleanse or detoxify the organs are not grounded in scientific fact. That includes claims about the lemon water detox diet.

Lemon water raises IQ
Drinking water, either plain or with added lemon, can boost focus and concentration, but it does not increase intelligence.

Lemon water is a diuretic
Water is an effective diuretic, which is a substance that encourages urination. In addition, any food that contains potassium could increase urine output. That includes virtually all fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy products, including lemons.

Hot vs. cold lemon water
The best temperature at which to drink lemon water is a highly debated topic.

Some sources claim that drinking cold water helps burn extra calories. Others believe that warm water helps improve digestive health.

There is very little research to support either side, and it is unlikely that the temperature makes any meaningful difference. A person can simply choose the temperature that they prefer.

How to make lemon water
Most recipes suggest using the juice of a whole lemon or half a lemon mixed with a glass of water.

People can tweak the amounts from there or add other ingredients based on their preferences.

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