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Benefits and Uses of Lemons: Separating Fact from Fiction

Updated on June 21, 2016
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What's So Super About Lemons?

Lemons have been getting all kinds of attention lately for being amazing super foods, and with so many potential health benefits their great reputation has been rightfully earned.

For example, a quick look at the nutrition facts of lemons show several reasons that any person would want to include them in a healthy balanced diet.

Here's the basic nutrition rundown on lemons:

  • 20-30 calories per lemon
  • 89% water
  • 9.3% carbs-mostly pectin fiber (lowers blood sugar levels by slowing down digestion of sugars and starches) and simple sugars (only 2.5 grams…Did you know you’re only supposed to have 24-36 grams of sugar a day?!?!?)
  • 1.1% protein
  • Vitamin C-51% of the recommended daily value in one lemon
  • Beneficial plant compounds-Citric acid, Hesperidin, Diosmin, D-Limonene

Benefits of Eating Lemons

As you can see, lemons pack a powerful nutritional punch!

The following are a list of potential health benefits of lemons:

  • Regulates blood sugar
  • kidney stone and gall stone prevention (breaks down stones as well as working as a diuretic)
  • prevention of anemia (helps the body absorb iron)
  • keeps skin looking youthful and healthy (by killing free radicals that make the skin age)
  • reduction of emotional stress
  • strengthen blood vessels
  • reduce the risk of some types of cancer (including breast cancer)

TIP: Use fresh lemons/lemon juice since the nutritional value diminishes over time.

WARNING: Make sure to brush your teeth soon after having lemons/lemon juice, since the acid in them weakens tooth enamel!

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Aromatic Benefits of Lemons

Not only are lemons good for our bodies when we eat them, but just smelling lemons can improve our mental and emotional conditions.

Many people reap the aromatic benefits of lemon by diffusing lemon oil so that the fresh smell of lemon permeates the air that they breathe.

Some aromatic benefits of lemons are:

  • Increases brain power-One study involving lemon oil in Japan showed that the smell increased cognitive function in Alzheimer's patients. Another study showed that people made 54% less typing errors when typing in a room where lemon oil was being diffused.
  • calms and uplifts people's emotions

Are Lemons Really Beneficial as Cleansers?

Lemon juice is great for cleaning (as in adding sparkle and shine) and stain/smell removal, but many sources say it is not strong enough to be an effective disinfectant.

Many websites suggest that lemon juice is a great way to sanitize cutting boards, because it will get rid of unwanted stains and smells, but because lemon juice is not powerful enough to kill the germs on your cutting board, this is not a good suggestion.

Lemon oil on the other hand is powerful enough to be used effectively in natural cleaners.

You also want to be careful as it does have bleaching characteristics. Try it on a small area before using it on large areas. Lemon oil is a more effective natural alternative for disinfecting.

Many websites suggest that lemon juice is a great way to sanitize cutting boards, because it will get rid of unwanted stains and smells, but because lemon juice is not powerful enough to kill the germs on your cutting board, this is not a good suggestion. Lemon oil on the other hand can be used effectively in natural cleaners.

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Everyday Household Uses for Lemons

There are tons of suggestions of how to use lemons around your home on the Internet, but again, the question is whether or not they should be trusted. Here are a few suggestions that I discovered in my research.

I've tried some of these, but not all of them, so I can't promise the effectiveness of every suggestion.

I did go through the effort of sorting through a lot of suggestions that seemed potentially dangerous, so that you won't experiment with them and cause you or someone else harm.

For example, many people suggest using straight lemon juice on your skin, and while lemon juice does have many potential benefits for your skin, it also could be harmful, particularly for someone with sensitive skin, so you probably want to stay clear of any recipes that recommend using straight lemon juice on your skin.

Here are some everyday household uses for lemons that I found in my research:

  • Freshen the fridge-put a cotton ball with lemon juice in the fridge to absorb unwanted odors (obviously cleaning out smelly items will make this work better).
  • Get rid of yucky sink smells-grind lemon peel in the garbage disposal.
  • Repel bugs-ants, roaches, and fleas don’t like the smell of lemon. Lemon juice near doors, windows, and other places where bugs like to come in will discourage them from entering. You can also scatter small slices of lemon peel near doors. Some people recommend adding lemon juice to your mop bucket when cleaning, but you will want to make sure that the material your floor is made out of is lemon juice safe.
  • Fruit and vegetable wash-lemon juice will help clean pesticides and other chemicals off of your produce better than water will.
  • Keep produce looking fresh-lemon juice keeps foods such as cauliflower, apples, potatoes, pears, pesto, and guacamole from turning brown.
  • Make soggy lettuce crisp-add the juice of half a lemon to a bowl of water. Put soggy, limp lettuce in, and refrigerate it for an hour. Dry the lettuce, and it’s perfect for a salad again.
  • Create blonde highlights- add ¼ cup lemon juice to ¾ cup water and rinse your hair with the mixture. Sit in the sun until your hair dries. Repeat daily for up to a week.
  • Clean and whiten nails-Soak your finger nails in a mixture of 1 cup warm water and the juice of half a lemon. Soak for about five minutes and then rub some lemon peel back and forth against the nail.
  • Bleach delicate fabrics-soak delicate fabrics in a mixture of lemon juice and water for half an hour before washing rather than using bleach.
  • Easily clean cheese graters-scrub cheese grater with half a lemon and then wash as usual.
  • Polish chrome and stainless steel-scrub metal with lemon rind, rinse, and dry.
  • Lower salt intake-your taste buds get the same sensation from sour foods that they do from salt. Try adding zest and flavor to your meals by seasoning with lemon instead of salt.

I've also included a few recipes using lemons below, so feel free to experiment. I love the tart and tasty lemon smoothie, and after converting to cleaning with natural cleaning products, I will never go back to using chemicals in my home again.

Many people suggest using straight lemon juice on your skin, and while lemon juice does have many potential benefits for your skin, it also could be harmful, particularly for someone with sensitive skin, so you probably want to stay clear of any recipes that recommend using straight lemon juice on your skin.

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Tart and Tasty Low Sugar Smoothie
1 cup almond milk
1 lemon with peel (if not organic, wash VERY well)
1 banana
1-2 cups spinach
1/2-1 cup frozen berries
small piece of peeled ginger root if desired
Lemon Essential Oil Cleaner
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 3/4 cup[ water
30 drops essential oil
this can be just lemon oil or a combo of lemon and other oils. Lemon and lavender are a great combo. I also love to mix peppermint with a citrus oil! This cleaner needs to be stored in a dark colored glass spray bottle since many essential oils (lemo
Lemon Vegetable Wash Recipe
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cup water
1 cup vinegar
1 Tbs baking soda

Do you have any tried and true suggestions of how to use lemons? Please share!

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    • Becca Linn profile image
      Author

      Rebecca Young 14 months ago from Renton, WA

      I love how you are able to use the same lemon twice! Genius!

    • Jo Lim profile image

      Jo Lim 14 months ago

      I use 2 slices of lemon in my bottle of drink daily. The next day instead of throwing away, I'll microwave them for about 2 minutes to naturally get rid of smell and make cleaning of the microwave easier. Anyway, great hub with good tips.

    • Becca Linn profile image
      Author

      Rebecca Young 14 months ago from Renton, WA

      I love it! It's amazing how a little bit of lemon down the garbage disposal can totally change the feeling of the kitchen. Their scent is so fresh and uplifting!

      Based on my research, I wouldn't depend on lemon for sanitizing my counters or cutting boards, but I'm sure it's better than nothing for a garbage disposal. After all, you probably don't have to stress the sanitization of your garbage disposal too much, since you won't be eating off of it.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 14 months ago from Fresno CA

      My husband loves fresh cut lemon in his iced tea. The problem is he won't use the ends. But waste-not want-not: I throw the ends down the garbage disposal and let it run for a few minutes. It makes the whole kitchen smell lemony-fresh. Probably sanitizes the disposal too. Thanks for the hints.