From adding a refreshing zing to your water to marinating your fish to perfection, lemons serve a wide range of culinary functions. If you use only the juice and discard the peel, though, you may be doing your diet a disservice. Lemon peels contain a spectrum of vitamins, minerals and fiber that can give your menu a nutritional boost, although you would have to consuming large amounts of peel to glean significant nutritional benefits.
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, each 100 g portion of lemon peel contains 134 mg of calcium -- a mineral essential for a number of processes in your body, including nerve impulse transmission, hormone secretion and muscle contraction. As the Linus Pauling Institute explains, eating adequate amounts of calcium may help protect against osteoporosis and bone fractures, lower your risk of colorectal cancer and reduce premenstrual syndrome in females. Although lemon peel is relatively rich in this nutrient, 100 g of peel is nearly 17 tbsp., and the amount a person would be likely to eat in one sitting would provide minor amounts of calcium.
Lemon peels are rich in the mineral potassium, containing 160 mg per 100 g of peel. Along with working alongside sodium, calcium and chloride to conduct electricity within the body, potassium plays a role in maintaining your heart function, muscle contraction and digestive capabilities. Lemon peels and other potassium-rich foods may also reduce high blood pressure and stroke risk, and in some cases may help improve your bone health. In order to obtain significant amounts of this nutrient, however, you would need to consume a very large amount of lemon peel.
Lemon peels are a rich source of immunity-boosting vitamin C, containing 129 mg of this nutrient per each 100 g portion. Helping synthesize collagen, neurotransmitters and a fat-transporting molecule called carnitine, vitamin C is involved in numerous body functions, the Linus Pauling Institute explains. In addition to preventing a form of vitamin C deficiency called scurvy, vitamin C serves as a potent antioxidant that protects your DNA from free radical damage. Both the lemon peel and the lemon juice contain vitamin C, so consider eating both to obtain more of this nutrient.
Like all citrus rinds, lemon peel is highly fibrous, containing 10.6 g fiber per 100 g portion. Dietary fiber offers a range of health perks, including normalizing your bowel movements, assisting in weight loss, lowering your cholesterol, improving blood sugar control and potentially lowering your risk of colorectal cancer. Fiber from foods such as lemon peels may also help protect against chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.