7 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Lemons

One of the most consumed citrus fruits worldwide is the lemon (Citrus limon).

Believed to be a hybrid of citron and lime, lemons are rarely eaten as a whole fruit.  Instead, they are a popular garnish for meals or a tart ingredient for recipes. Lemons are one of the most popular fruits in drinks, sauces, desserts, and salad dressings because they are very sour and smell fresh. They are also the primary ingredient in the ever-popular lemonade beverage.

Read on to learn about lemons, their nutritional profile, and their incredible health benefits.

What Are Lemons?

Lemons are a type of citrus fruit grown on small evergreen trees, primarily in tropical and subtropical climates. The major producers of lemons in the United States are California, Arizona, and Florida (1).


The lemon’s origin is unknown. It is believed to have originated in the northwestern region of India. We know that in the middle of the 15th century, the first significant cultivation of lemons in Europe began in Genoa. Christopher Columbus brought lemon seeds to Hispaniola in 1493, thus introducing the lemon to the Americas. The conquest of the New World by the Spanish helped spread lemon seeds. 


For hundreds of years, lemons have been used as an ornamental plant, medicine, and food, with an awe-inspiring nutrient profile and an impressive list of health benefits. 

Lemon Nutrient Profile

Lemons, like those found in 8th Wonder Sparkling Chai Tea, are packed with nutrients, including bone-strengthening calcium, mood-enhancing magnesium, and muscle-strongthening potassium.


Every part of the lemon – from pulp to peel – is filled with flavonoids and vitamin C, two powerhouse antioxidants that likely account for many of its health benefits (2).  

In addition, lemon pulp is rich in soluble fiber, which is vital for healthy digestion, carbohydrate absorption, blood glucose balance, and blood cholesterol management. 


Lemons are low in both fat and protein. Most of their composition consists of carbohydrates (10%) and water (88–89%). They are also extremely low in calories. 

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the following is the nutritional profile of one raw lemon without the skin (84 grams) (3, 4):


  • 24 calories
  • <1 gram protein
  • <1 gram fat
  • 8 grams carbohydrate
  • 2 grams fiber
  • 2 grams sugar

Vitamins and Minerals

Below are just a few of the health-promoting vitamins and minerals in lemons:


  • Vitamin C: As mentioned above, vitamin C is a potent antioxidant vitamin. It is essential for immune function, skin health, the repair of body tissues, and more (5, 6)

  • Potassium: Potassium is a type of electrolyte necessary for proper bodily function. This mineral is essential for blood pressure and cardiovascular health (7). 

  • Vitamin B6: The optimal functioning of the neurological system and immune system, as well as normal brain development, depends on vitamin B6.

  • Folate: Folate is a crucial B vitamin required for synthesizing DNA and RNA, producing red and white blood cells in the bone marrow, and converting carbohydrates into energy.

Plant Compounds

Plant compounds (phytochemicals) are naturally occurring bioactive molecules found in plants, many of which have significant health advantages.


Studies suggest that lemons and other citrus fruits may benefit against cancer, cardiovascular disease, and inflammation thanks to their phytochemical content (8, 9, 10).


Below are a few phytochemicals found in lemons:


  • Citric Acid. The abundance of citric acid in lemons helps with energy metabolism, mineral absorption, and the prevention or treatment of kidney stones.

  • D-limonene. D-limonene, which is found mainly in the peel, is the primary component of lemon essential oils and is responsible for their distinctive aroma. When taken orally, it can alleviate acid reflux and heartburn (11).

  • Hesperidin. This antioxidant may help to strengthen your blood vessels and prevent atherosclerosis, which is the accumulation of fatty deposits (plaque) inside your arteries (12, 13).

Health Benefits of Lemons

Here are 6 science-backed health benefits of lemons.

1. Supports Heart Health


Due to their vitamin C content, lemons are one of the best heart-healthy foods. One lemon has around 31 mg of vitamin C, which is 51% of the recommended value (RDI). 

According to research, consuming vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables lowers your chance of developing heart disease and stroke (14, 15, 16).

But it’s not just the vitamin C that gives lemons their heart-supporting properties. Studies suggest that lemons' fiber and plant compounds may significantly reduce certain risk factors for heart disease.

For example, in one study, it was discovered that consuming 24 grams of citrus fiber extract every day for a month decreased participants' total blood cholesterol levels (17).

High blood pressure (hypertension) is another significant heart disease risk factor that lemon consumption may help. 

According to research published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, those who consumed at least half a lemon daily and walked around 7,000 steps significantly boosted their blood pressure (18). 

Another study from 2017 found that drinking lemon juice like that in 8th Wonder Sparkling Chai Tea can lower high blood pressure by stopping the breakdown of nitric acid. Nitric acid is a compound in your cells that, according to an article from 2018, relaxes blood vessels, which improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure (19, 20).

2. Supports Immune Function

Lemon is a fruit known for boosting immunity since it is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants. It aids in boosting the immune system's defenses against the viruses that cause the flu and the common cold.

According to one study, while vitamin C supplements do not seem to lower the prevalence of colds in a community, they could shorten the duration of a cold (21).

A robust immune system is also essential for defending against cancer. Indeed, daily citrus consumption is associated with decreased cancer risk in numerous research studies (22). 

3. Aids Weight Control

According to research, there are several ways that plant chemicals found in lemon extracts may help prevent or decrease weight gain (23, 24).

In one study, mice on a fattening diet were administered lemon peel polyphenols. They gained less weight and fat compared to other mice (25).

In 2016, researchers put 84 obese premenopausal Korean women on a 7-day lemon detox or another diet. The women who followed the lemon detox diet saw significant reductions in insulin resistance, body fat, BMI, weight, and waist-hip ratio compared to those on other diets (26).

Lemon with warm water is one of the most effective home treatments for weight loss. This detox drink will help you lose weight and purge your body of pollutants.

Further research is needed to determine the exact mechanism behind lemon’s potential effect on weight control. 

4. Improves Digestion

Pectin, the primary fiber in lemons, is a soluble fiber with several potential health advantages.

Consuming soluble fiber can improve digestive health and slow the digestion of simple carbohydrates like sugar, resulting in decreased glucose levels (27, 28).

Soluble fiber also feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut. These bacteria can help reduce intestinal inflammation and improve digestion. 

Lemon’s digestive benefits are only present in the pulp, not the juice. In other words, you must consume the entire lemon, similar to how you would consume an orange, in order to obtain the gut-healing benefits of the pulp.

5. Reduces Cancer Risk

Vitamin C, a potent antioxidant, is abundant in lemons, lemon juice, and 8th Wonder Sparkling Chai Tea. 

Numerous studies suggest that antioxidants like vitamin C may help prevent free radicals from causing cell damage that can lead to cancer.

In fact, research indicates that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help prevent certain types of cancer (29). 

Some studies have found that persons who consume the most citrus fruits have a lower chance of developing cancer, whereas others found no such correlation (30, 31, 32).

D-limonene, a substance present in lemon oil, has been shown in animal experiments to possess anticancer effects (33, 34).

More research needs to be done to verify lemon’s anti-cancer benefits.

6. Improves Skin Appearance

Vitamin C in lemons is essential for the production of collagen, the structural protein of the skin.

Sun exposure, air pollution, aging, and other variables can cause skin damage. A 2014 study on mice revealed that consuming vitamin C in its natural state or applying it topically can help prevent this type of harm (35).

This means that lemons can help reduce fine lines and wrinkles, giving your face a more youthful, dewy appearance. 

7. Defends Against Anemia

Iron deficiency anemia, caused by a lack of iron in the diet, is extremely prevalent. 

Although lemons do contain some iron, they mainly prevent anemia by enhancing your body's absorption of iron from plant-based diets because of the combination of vitamin C and citric acid (36, 37)

This is one of the most significant lemon health benefits for vegetarians, vegans, and pescatarians, whose diets mostly consist of plant-based iron, which is more difficult for the body to absorb. 


To supercharge iron absorption, you should consume lemons or other foods high in vitamin C with iron-rich foods.  

Adverse Effects of Lemon Consumption

Lemons are generally well-tolerated by most individuals. However, you should be aware of a couple of potential side effects.

Acidity. Lemons are extremely acidic; thus, anyone prone to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as acid reflux, should avoid them. Acidic foods can relax the lower esophagus, enabling stomach juices to flow back up and producing or exacerbating GERD symptoms such as regurgitation and heartburn. The acidity of lemons can also wear away tooth enamel, which could make tooth decay more likely.


Tyramine. Lemons contain tyramine, a naturally occurring substance that can cause headaches in migraine-prone individuals. 


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References


1- https://dpi.wi.gov/sites/default/files/imce/school-nutrition/pdf/fact-sheet-lemon.pdf


2- https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2021.644406/full


3- https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/167746/nutrients


4- https://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/diet-tips/lemon-health-benefits-nutrition


5- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16373990/


6- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25010554/


7- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21371638/


8- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18593176/


9- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18220529/


10- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11172671/


11- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18072821/


12- https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0308814603002723


13- https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1527-3466.1999.tb00011.x


14- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11412050/


15- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11022052/


16- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22574825


17- https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0271531705801757


18- https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jnme/2014/912684/


19- https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Evaluation-of-the-Effect-of-Citrus-Lemon-L.


20- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6164974/


21- https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD000980.pub4/full


22- https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/ijc.2520


23- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19015756/


24- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25022990/


25- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2581754/

26- https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0271531715000676?via%3Dihub


27- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22401879/


28- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22254008/


29- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26148912/


30- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18824947/


31- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18373174/


32- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25461441/


33- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8237062/

34- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10082788/


35- https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09168451.2014.915728


36- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3593665/


37- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18469253/