In 1747, James Lind discovered citrus fruits like lemons were useful in preventing the scurvy some sailors developed after months at sea. Today, it’s easier to avoid scurvy’s swollen gums and painful joints, but that doesn’t mean lemons have to be relegated to a garnish for cocktails.
Lemons carry a variety of health benefits in their flesh, juice, and peel. "This sour, flavor-enhancing fruit offers numerous phytochemicals including flavonoids, limonoids and polyphenols,” says Edwina Clark, head of nutrition and wellness at Yummly.
But while some of the fruit’s benefits — like its high vitamin C content — are well documented, others require more research.
"The caveat is that most of the studies on the benefits of lemons and citrus have been conducted on animal models, and the magnitude of the effect may not be the same for humans,” Clark adds. "In addition, there is variability in parts of the fruit tested. Some studies evaluated the whole fruit, whereas others have looked at the flesh, pulp, oil, juice, or seeds."
Here are 10 things you should know about the health benefits of lemons, in a variety of forms.