All about lemon, the Sun King of agrumes
The next zest needs no introduction: alway present in everyone’s homes and beloved for its fresh flavor and versatility, the lemon is the protagonist of this article. Together we will discover its properties, uses and benefits - and maybe something you didn’t know.
Lemon (Citrus Limon) is an important medicinal plant of the Rutaceae family, which includes all citrus fruits and native to the tropical and subtropical Asian area. Along with many other members of the genus Citrus, Lemon was born spontaneously as a hybrid: that’s the reason why it may not be recognized as a “species” for different taxonomies.
The lemon tree can grow up to 10 meters but it’s more common in its shortest form. How can you recognize it? That’s pretty simple: from its crown, full of wide branches. Covered with shiny dark green elongated leaves, the lemon trees can be decorated with white fragrant flowers or, depending on the season, with wonderful golden fruits. Anyhow they have the power to transport us immediately to warm sunny destinations.
Maybe you’ve noticed it at the local fruit and vegetable market: there are so many lemon cultivars. They can have pointed or rounded bases, they can be more or less large or more or less juicy. Since the lemon tree prefers warm climates, the major production in our country is located in Sicily, Calabria, Campania and Puglia. The most cultivated variety is called the Feminello Comune which originated local, unique and precious varieties.
What are the properties and benefits of lemon?
Like many medicinal plants, every part of the lemon has a different function: its rind is rich in an essential oil which helps the gastrointestinal tone and turns out to be useful after a hearty banquet or, on the contrary, if you have a lack of appetite. Lemon juice is able to lift your mood thanks to its exciting scent, but it also contains vitamin B and an important amount of vitamin C, mineral salts and potassium. For the same reason it performs a protective function on the body, besides fighting sodium excess and regulating kidney function. Lemon’s glycosides and flavonoids reinforce capillaries and improve circulation. Lemon leaves, rich in limonene and terpene compounds with calming and antispasmodic properties, are also recommended against palpitations, insomnia, headaches and asthma.
But it’s vitamin C which is truly responsible for lemon’s benefits: it helps iron absorption in legumes and green leafy vegetables in order to counteract anemia; it boosts the immune system, prevents kidney stones and improves skin health. What everyone doesn’t know is that you can find the largest amount of vitamin C in the peel which, unlike the juice, is also rich in fiber and calcium. In the peel there is also limonene, a valuable molecule with an unmistakable scent: according to many studies its anti-inflammatory properties can prevent tumor growth. A single fruit with fruitful benefits.
How to use lemon?
Did you know it? You can buy Italian lemons all year round thanks to the many varieties that grow on our peninsula. Some advice to buy the best ones: choose lemons with the leaves still attached and with a slightly wrinkled skin. Another tip: don’t forget to feel the juice to the touch and remember that sizes don’t matter and don’t always rhyme with juiciness! One last thing: don’t pick lemons with black spots on the skin, it’s a clear sign of the passage of parasites.
How to use lemon in cooking: it’s perfect for soft lemon-scented desserts, delicious creams, meat-based dishes with a citrusy seasoning, but also with fish and vegetables …lemon is a super-versatile ingredient, always available!
How to use lemon in your beauty routine: lemon can be a precious ally for DIY beauty treatments. Its astringent properties are used to make face masks for acne or to clear blemishes and skin marks. For the same reason it can be used to naturally whiten your teeth (although citric acid’s misuse and abuse can affect and damage tooth enamel). As a natural antibacterial, it can also be used as an occasional facial cleanser; and again, it makes your nails and hair look brighter and stronger.
How to use lemon around your home: the Internet is full of DIY recipes for natural household cleaners and disinfectants made from lemon juice. Its degreasing and polishing power will surprise you! How to treat yourself with lemon: when you suffer from heartburn or stomach heaviness, there’s nothing better than a nice cup of lemon infusion. Wilden.herbals has included this precious ingredient in its Remedium n.3 – Digestive in order to promote digestion and to reconcile a correct intestinal cycle. The lemon peel acts synergistically with mint, ginger, licorice, sage, fennel to ensure well-being whenever you need it.
Did you know it? In Italy there are some varieties of lemon that have acquired the IGP certification (meaning protected geographical indication) like the one from Syracuse and the one called Interdonato from Messina; the Lemon of Rocca Imperiale, the famous Amalfi Coast and that of Sorrento … biodiversity is to be celebrated as one of the greatest wealth.
Be wary of false miracles: the intake of water and lemon every morning fails in the promise to act as a detox. Truth be told it can lead to disorders such as gastritis, esophagitis and reflux, as well as damage to tooth enamel.
According to historians, lemons were known and consumed in Italy since Roman times but were not a particularly favoured fruit. Their traces were lost in later times, up to the year 1000 AD, when the Arabs, appreciating its alimentary and therapeutic use, contributed to its spread in the Middle East and then in the Peninsula. The resurgence of their use could be also linked to Crusaders and pilgrims returning from the Holy Land between the 11th and 12th centuries.
- Jana, Paramita, Pradhan Avinash Sureshrao, and Rojina Swayamsiddha Sahu. “Medicinal and Health Benefits of Lemon.”
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGYc9yQ-ayM Dario Bressanini – Scienza e disinformazione