One in every 6 American adults has high blood cholesterol, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If this includes you, several treatment methods are available, including medication, exercise, weight loss and dietary changes that restrict certain foods and encourage the intake of others. Some studies indicate that lemons may belong in the beneficial category, but more scientific research is needed. Talk to your doctor if you need guidance planning a diet that helps control your cholesterol.
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Effect of Drinking Lemon Juice
An "International Journal of Humanities and Social Science" study published in 2013 reported on the effects of giving a whole apple, a glass of water mixed with the juice of a lemon or both each day to subjects with high blood cholesterol. The scientists reported that the individuals consuming lemon juice daily experienced a significant drop in their LDL, or "bad," cholesterol level. Since the study also required participants to exercise regularly and follow a low-fat diet, it isn't certain whether the lemon juice would have had the same effect on its own.
Benefits of Vitamin C
According to the University of Michigan Health System, a high intake of vitamin C may not only help prevent LDL cholesterol damage and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, it may lower overall cholesterol totals. Studies show differing results and have used supplemental vitamin C amounts ranging from 100 to 1,000 milligrams per day. Lemons contain a high concentration of vitamin C: 1 cup of fresh lemon juice has 94 milligrams of the nutrient; 1 cup of raw lemon segments contains 112 milligrams.
Source of Soluble Fiber
The National Institutes of Health recommends that people with high LDL cholesterol aim to consume 10 to 25 grams of soluble fiber each day as an effective method for lowering their total cholesterol. Soluble fiber absorbs water in the digestive tract and forms a viscous mass. Bile acids, which contain cholesterol as a component, may be caught up in this mass and eliminated from the body instead of being reabsorbed, lowering your blood cholesterol level. Lemons are a good source of soluble fiber, with each medium-sized piece of the fruit supplying 1.6 grams of total fiber, 1 gram of which is soluble.
Rich in Flavonoids
The juice and flesh aren't the only parts of a lemon that may lower cholesterol. A study published in 2002 in the "European Journal of Nutrition" demonstrated that lemon peels were effective at lowering the blood and liver cholesterol level of hamsters with high blood cholesterol. This may be due to the flavonoids found in the peels of lemons and other citrus fruits like oranges and tangerines. Citrus fruits are especially rich in flavonoids known as polymethoxylated flavones, antioxidants that have a strong effect on cholesterol levels and that occur only in high concentrations in the peel. Studies with humans are needed to see if the effect is the same as in the animal subjects.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About High Blood Cholesterol
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: How Is High Blood Cholesterol Treated?
- International Journal of Humanities and Social Science: Reduction of Cholesterol and Triglycerides in Volunteers Using Lemon and Apple
- University of Michigan Health System: Vitamin C
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Lemon Juice, Raw
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Lemons, Raw, Without Peel
- National Institutes of Health: Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (Adult Treatment Panel III) Final Report
- Today's Dietitian: A Soluble Fiber Primer -- Plus the Top Five Foods That Can Lower LDL Cholesterol
- Prebiotin: Fiber Content of Foods
- European Journal of Clinical Nutrition: The Hypercholesterolemic Effect of Lemon Peels, Lemon Pectin and the Waste Stream Material of Lemon Peels in Hybrid F1B Hamsters
- BBC News: Citrus Peel Can Cut Cholesterol