The culinary world is shining a light on lemon in 2014 because of it's delicious taste, versatility and preserving qualities. In fact, using lemon in cooking and baking is predicted as one of the top food trends in 2014. Chefs use lemon as a flavour catalyst or to bring out an acidic profile in both sweet and savory dishes. Because we're going to be seeing a lot more of this tangy fruit this year, I thought I'd shed light on its many nutritional qualities and disease-fighting properties. Lemon is most commonly known for its high vitamin C value, but it possesses powerful cancer-fighting polyphenols, pH-balancing acids and detoxifying properties too.
Lemons are high in Vitamin C, which helps to keep our immune system in check so that we're able to fight infections and stay healthy (here are some other immune boosting foods to fill up on during cold and flu season). It is a potent antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals which can cause oxidative stress in our bodies. Free radicals damage healthy cells in our body which can ultimately lead to diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Lemons also contain an antioxidant called Limonene, which may help to ward off certain types of cancer.
Although I am not a fan of "detox diets," I do believe that there are some natural ways to gently detoxify the body—lemon being one of them. Limonene, one of the antioxidants present it lemon (mostly in the peel) has been shown to activate enzymes in the liver that are part of the first phases of detoxification in the liver. These processes take compounds present in the liver that are toxic to our cells and convert them to less harmful versions. Although there is no solid evidence to support the fact that lemon can help our bodies to "detoxify," adding lemon to water often encourages people to drink more (because it tastes yummy and fresh), which helps to rid the body of harmful toxins anyway.
Vitamin C aids in the production and maintenance of collagen, an essential protein found in the cells of our body. Collagen is needed keeping skin healthy, wound healing and maintenance of healthy bones, teeth, tendons and blood vessels. Although it is unclear as to how, lemon can help treat acne and keep a healthy complexion. This could be due to its Vitamin C content (which helps reduce scarring from blemishes) or it could be due to lemon's natural antibacterial properties. It could also have something to do with the fact that lemon has a very low pH (quite acidic), which may kill off bacteria on the skin that would cause acne. Because of its low pH, lemon renders the skin dryer which could also reduce the oil that would cause acne.
Fun facts about (and tips for using) lemons: