Start your love affair

6th January 2015
Lemons might not be the first thing you naturally reach for in the fruit bowl but they are one of the few fruits I choose to eat on almost a daily basis because are versatile at injecting depth of flavour into so many foods. But more importantly it’s their powerhouse nutritional properties that mean these waxy citrus beauties stand out head and shoulders above the others from the same family for me. Like other citrus fruits, such as oranges and limes, the inner flesh of a lemon is encased in eight to 10 segments and it is both the juice and the pulp that can be used to assist in flushing toxins from your body. By including lemons as much as you can in your daily diet, your body can reap major health benefits, especially because of the amount of vitamin C they pump into the body. Just a quarter cup of lemon juice contains 32% of your recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin C, as well as other key nutrients, such as folate. The reason vitamin C is so important is because it is the primary water-soluble antioxidant found in the body. This means that consuming fruits packed with Vitamin C allows this powerful antioxidant to travel swiftly through the body, neutralising any free radicals with which it comes into contact in the aqueous environment. This in turn reduces inflammation and swelling throughout the body, which is why it can be so effective in reducing symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Coming from the Rutaceae family and known as citrus limon, lemons first began being cultivated in China and India 2,500 years ago. They were introduced to Europe in the 11th century after The Crusaders - who found the fruit growing in Palestine - brought lemons with them. In the Americas, they arrived with Christopher Columbus in 1493 and by the mid-19th century were prized amongst Californian gold minders because of vitamin C helped to protect against scurvy. Today, there are two types of sour lemons – the Eureak and the Lisbon. The Eureka has texturised skin, a short neck and few seeds, while the Lisbon has smoother skin, no neck and is generally seedless. There are also other varietals that are sweet in flavour. Another reason why so many holistic health practitioners swear by starting their day with a glass of warm water and a few squeezes of lemon juice is because it is proven to help invigorate and refresh both the body and mind. It is also a great addition to a healthy green smoothie or a turmeric, ginger and lemon juice booster for the very same reasons. You see, along with optimal levels of vitamin C, lemons contain citric acid and, although acidic, these properties have a balancing effect by helping to raise the body’s pH system to its optimum level. In short, kick-starting the day with one of these yellow citrus helps to fire up the digestive system and flush out nasty toxins because it has an alkalising effect. And although scientific studies are currently still underway to prove the direct links between lemons and alkalisation of the blood, Columbia University Health Services explains that the health benefits of alkaline blood means it absorbs more oxygen, which helps make you feel better. Conversely, less oxygen in the blood - caused by the inflammation that occurs from consumption of refined sugars, fructose and genetically modified grains, all of which are overly abundant in many modern-day Western diets - causes fatigue, weight gain, aches, pains and digestive upsets. Adding alkalising enhancing fruits and vegetables, such as lemons, is one way of redressing this imbalance. Lemons are also nutritionally superior because of the unique phyto-nutrient properties that are inherent in this magical citrus. Along with being packed full of antioxidants, these flavonoids contain key anti-cancer fighting properties that have been shown to protect the body’s cells against this modern-day illness. By including flavonoid-packed fruits and vegetables such as lemons, in your diet, it can be a powerful way for an individual to use food as medicine to alter the environment within the body and provide a way to create the best, most health-promoting growth medium possible for all of your cells. Here’s five more reasons to start your love affair with lemons:
  • Lemons ability to fight free radicals and inject the body with lots of vitamin C means that they are helpful in the prevention of heart disease.
  • Vitamin C is a well-known, incredibly strong immune booster and so adding a few extra lemons into the mix can work wonders if you are fighting a cold or flu.
  • Research is also discovering that key compounds in citrus fruits called limonoids are helpful in fighting against mouth, skin, lung, breast, stomach and colon cancer.
  • Studies have found that those who consume high amounts of vitamin C are less likely to develop arthritis than those who consume low amounts.
  • High levels of vitamin C help ward off many illnesses and can help in the fight against modern-day illnesses, such as cancer.