Lemons are some of the planet’s most recognizable fruits. Their shape, taste and color makes them easy to recognize regardless if you see them in a supermarket or catch a glimpse of them in a tart or cake. Everything about lemons is unique. Their intense yellow color sets them apart from any other fruit out there, the tangy and intense taste is one that many people can’t stand to experience as is and instead add sugar to it and their oblong and plump shape makes them irresistible.
Lemons – An Overview
Lemons grow on lemon trees and are actually a hybrid between lime and the original citron. Due to their intense taste and pleasant aspect, lemons are often used as garnish to several dishes and even drinks. You can find lemon slices on the side of fancy restaurant meals or clinging on a beautiful cocktail glass.
Although the exact origins of lemons have not been established, it’s believed they may come from northwestern India, where they have actually been cultivated for more than 2,500 years. Arab traders were the ones that gradually introduced this zesty fruit to Europe, by bringing it to Italy first of all and then to Spain. From here on, it was the Christophor Columbus that brought lemons to the New World, where they soon gained popularity.
Nowadays you can find around 200 lemon cultivars in the United States, out of which the Eureka and Lisbon varieties are the most popular. All these cultivars have their own characteristics, some are more disease-resistant, while others bear more fruit. Some are better in more humid climates and others have more seeds. There is really a tremendous variety of lemons out there, but the main characteristics are the same and are what makes them so beloved all around the world.
Unlike other citrus fruits, lemons don’t require excessive heat to bear fruits. Lemon trees will also have blooms and fruits at the same time on their branches. If the trees are in a temperate area, the fruits can ripen all year long. The trees can reach up to 10-20 feet in height and can live until they become 50 years old.
What’s In a Lemon?
Apart from their ability to basically make anything sour and their amazing aspect, lemons are also extremely healthy. They are packed with vitamins and minerals that will give your immune system a boost, while also being very light in terms of the calories they bring to the table. They have been used since times immemorial to cure certain ailments and to give the body a boost when the immunity is at its lowest. Let’s then take a closer look at the lemon nutritional value. Having said this, half a cup of a peeled, raw lemon will contain:
- 89% water – The body of the lemon is mainly made of water, which means it’s extremely beneficial in terms of hydration.
- 1.1 grams of protein – Protein will ensure that everything pertaining to tissue health is in normal parameters and works well. As long as you have a protein-rich diet, your cartilages, bones and skin will also be healthy.
- 2.5 grams of sugar – The sugar contained in lemons will offer you the boost of energy you need to carry on with your day. It’s the type of sugar that’s healthy and easy to process by the body, so it’s always a better idea to squeeze a lemon in your drink than to eat a chocolate bar.
- 2.8 grams of fiber – Your intestinal transit will thank you deeply if you feed it enough fiber and this is because fiber tends to smooth over the gastrointestinal processes. Your bowel movements will be regulated and will see smoother functioning, while you’ll also get a feeling of being satiated quicker. This means you won’t need to snack extra.
- Vitamin C – This vitamin is responsible for the well-being of all body tissues, since it supports their growth and repair. It’s also behind the creation of collagen and the proper wound healing process. In addition to this, bones and cartilages will also be healthier when you’re feeding your body a vitamin C – rich diet.
- Potassium – This mineral helps the body better regulate its fluid levels, while also helping with nerve signals and muscle contraction.
- Vitamin B6 – This vitamin plays an important part in regulating your mood long-term, as it’s very efficient in staving off unpleasant symptoms of depression and anxiety. It’s also pretty useful in treating anemia.
- 9.3 grams of carbs – These are composed of fructose, glucose and sucrose, as well as fibers
- 0.3 grams of fat – With this little amount of fat, lemons make for the perfect addition to any drink, dessert or snack.
Apart from these, you’ll also find other compounds in lemons that are just as beneficial to the overall well-being of your body:
- Eriocitrin – An antioxidant that is found in the lemon peel and in the juice.
- Citric acid – Lemons contain plenty of this acid that may help prevent the formation of kidney stones.
- Diosmin – An antioxidant that improves muscle tone and reduces chronic inflammation in the blood vessels.
- Hesperidin – This antioxidant can help strengthen your blood vessels and prevent atherosclerosis.
- D-limonene – This is the one that gives the lemon that irreplaceable aroma. When isolated, it can relieve stomach reflux and heartburn.
These compounds may have beneficial effects on cancer, inflammation and cardiovascular disease. Additionally, antioxidants are known and sought-after due to their effect in fighting off free radicals and slowing down the body’s aging process. Free radicals are those compounds that are usually absorbed from the outside, such as from smoking, drinking or a polluted environment and that eventually accelerate the body’s natural cellular aging process.
Since lemons are pretty high in vitamin C, it’s also indicated these fruits may reduce the risk of a heart disease. Apart from this, studies such as The Effects of Fruit Juices and Fruits on the Absorption of Iron From a Rice Meal, show how the vitamin C and citric acid in lemons can lead to better iron absorption from other foods.
The only aspect you need to be mindful of when consuming lemons on a regular basis is that their high acidic profile makes them rather unfriendly regarding teeth. Your dental health may take a blow, considering the enamel is quite susceptible to being damaged by the acidic content.
When you find yourself having trouble sleeping at night, you may have insomnia. Insomnia is a sleeping disorder often brought about by factors such as stress, overeating, pregnancy and downing of too much stimulants. When you begin to start losing sleep, you may not notice its effect after the first few nights. However, as it becomes more frequent, you will soon feel that your body becomes sluggish, you lose energy and you become sickly.
To overcome insomnia, one of the best methods to try are lemons. Ironic as it may seem, the zesty fruit that is often associated with sunny days and vitality, is actually a good depressant. The lemon is a fruit native to Asia and is widely cultivated due to its many uses. High in Vitamin C, it has about 6% citric acid, dietary fibers and protein.
It is the lemon’s tangy smell that is capitalized to help you fall asleep. The sour yet sweet aroma has a calming effect when inhaled. Drinking lemon tea with honey before you lie down to rest is one of the proven remedy for insomnia. Another would be to apply lemon balm on pulse points and your temples.
Lemon Beauty Tips
Lemons have long been used traditionally as aesthetic and healthy aids in all sorts of beauty treatments. These include hair, body and face treatments. The vitamin C in lemons, together with all the other antioxidants from these amazing antioxidant fruits, make lemons a great home remedy to rejuvenate your skin and vitalize your hair. Having said this, you can use lemons as:
- Dandruff treatment – Mix a tablespoon of lemon juice with a tablespoon of coconut oil. Massage into the scalp and rinse it well after about 30 minutes.
- Skin brightener – Mix 2 tablespoons of honey with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. This combination is very powerful and will leave your skin clearer and brighter.
- Blackheads treatment – Slice up a lemon, dip it in some honey and squeeze the juice on your face. This will do wonders for your skin and your blackheads will start fading away.
- Lip scrub – Once again mix with honey and put the mixture on your lips for about 15 minutes. Your lips will feel softer and better moisturized.
- Treatment for dark spots and scars – If you have any dark spots and scars on your face or anywhere else on your body, you can use a mixture of lemon juice and honey to apply on those sensitive areas.
Lemons are well-known for treating and alleviating any troublesome skin conditions. There are really lots of home remedies you can try by yourself, starting of course from the winning combo that brings together honey and lemon juice.
How to Store Lemons
If you want to enjoy your lemons for as long as possible, without them going dull in color or getting spots on their exterior, you need to know the proper storing techniques.
An important note is that you can still have fresh lemons for as long as one extra week since you bought them, if you keep them at room temperature on the counter. After this point, they lose that vibrant color and they start developing soft or rough patches.
If you want to refrigerate them, it’s best if you can wrap them in a ziplock bag. This way, they will keep fresh in the refrigerator for as long as four extra weeks. So between the two methods are three extra weeks of lasting freshness. It’s up to you if you want to use them right away, in which case you can leave them on the countertop, or if you want to use them at a later date, for which the refrigerator serves just fine.
If you’ve already cut your lemons, it’s important that you wrap them in cling film before storing them away in the refrigerator. If you simply leave them outside, covered in film, they will go bad quickly either way.
How to Use Lemons
When it comes to getting creative with lemons, there are dozens of ways in which you can incorporate them in your diet. These options can either be drinks, desserts or proper food dishes that can leave you feeling full and satisfied. Some of your lemon using options are:
- Refreshing lemonade: this is the easy one and will serve you well both on hot summer days and on breezy spring mornings. Just add water, some honey if you’d like and a bit of mint for a twist in the overall taste.
- Lemon pie.
- Lemon cake.
- Lemon risotto – take a different approach on your classic risotto.
- Lemon curd: don’t let all your lemons go to waste. Take 30 minutes of your time to prepare a lemon curd that you can easily store away afterwards in beautiful jars.
- Lemon doughnuts.
- Lemon French toast.
There are hundreds of lemon recipes out there – each of them has their own uniqueness and degree of difficulty. You don’t need to be a chef to make something out of all those lemons lying around and you don’t need to go the extra mile in order to put together a delicious lemon dessert.
Growing Your Own Lemon Tree
Thankfully you can find lemons pretty much everywhere in the world, at affordable prices and great quality.
However if you want to plant your own lemon tree, know that it’s possible, but it takes about three years for the plant to finally yield fruits, granted it’s been well taken care of. If you’re growing the tree from seed, it will take about 6 years before you can actually start enjoying the fruits as well.
You can either grow this plant in a large pot and keep it on your terrace or balcony or straight in the backyard. It’s true that if you pot it, it will make a pleasant addition to your otherwise already beautiful home. Some people find more joy in having a lemon tree in their very own home, instead of their backyard.
The soil needs to be damp and the young plant needs about 8 hours of sunlight exposure daily. Regardless of its development stage, a lemon tree will always need plenty of water, so be sure to not starve your plant. For more information on how you can grow your own lemon tree, follow these recommendations step by step.
All in all, lemons are some of nature’s most potent antioxidant fruits and they’re readily available for us to use however they serve us best. Whether you want to drink lemonade, mix some lemon juice with honey to brighten and moisturize your skin or simply include lemons in a delicious cake, know these fruits will still offer all their best to you. Their aroma, their taste and nutritional value will all be there for you to enjoy, regardless of the option you choose.
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