Lemon juice is a staple in sauces, drinks, salad dressings, desserts and marinades, so don't ignore the nutritional benefits of using lemon in your cooking. Like the other members of the citrus family, lemons contain essential nutrients such as fiber, vitamins and minerals that may help prevent the development of chronic medical problems. Roast or braise lemon wedges with fish, poultry or meat, or prepare your own preserved lemons. Store fresh lemons in the refrigerator and use them within two weeks.
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Rich in Vitamin C
Men should have 90 milligrams of vitamin C each day, while women need 75 milligrams. Each medium-sized lemon provides 44.5 milligrams of vitamin C, or 49 percent of the recommended daily intake for a man and nearly 60 percent for a woman. A diet containing plenty of foods rich in vitamin C may lower your risk of cancer, heart disease and hypertension. In addition, researchers at Purdue University determined in 2007 that when green tea is consumed with the vitamin C from lemons, the body absorbs more antioxidant catechin compounds.
Dense with Flavonoids
In 2006, a review published in the "Journal of Food Composition and Analysis" reported that lemons are a rich source of flavonoid compounds known as flavanones. Flavonoids are antioxidant phytochemicals that may help prevent heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma and neurological problems by inhibiting the DNA- and cell-damaging capacity of free radicals. Lemons are particularly rich in the flavanones hesperidin and eriocitrin. Hesperidin may aid in keeping your bones strong and lowering your blood lipid level, while eriocitrin could protect your liver from oxidative damage.
Source of Pectin
Lemons and lemon peel contain a high concentration of pectin, a type of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber slows your digestion rate and may suppress your appetite while preventing diabetes by stabilizing your blood sugar levels. Lemon pectin may also play a role in lowering high blood cholesterol levels, according to a study published in the "European Journal of Nutrition" in 2002. To include lemon pectin in your meals, top dishes with grated lemon peel, use preserved lemon peel as a snack or condiment, or use lemon rinds to prepare your own pectin for making jam and jelly.
Liminoids are naturally occurring compounds that may help your body fend off certain types of cancer, including colon, mouth, lung, skin, stomach and breast cancer. Citrus fruits contain the liminoid known as limonin. Researchers at the ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center at the University of California, Davis, have found that limonin may be able to lower blood cholesterol levels by causing liver cells to produce fewer compounds associated with high cholesterol.