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The lemon is a sour tasting fruit, which is oval in shape with a textured yellow skin. It is rich in vitamin C, phytonutrients and powerful antioxidants. Lemon may be the most therapeutic of all vegetal foods for people who eat high protein or high fat diets. They are refreshing added to a drink and a great flavor added to both deserts and savory dishes.

The thermal nature is cooling.
The flavour is .
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What it is

The lemon is the fruit of the lemon tree; it is oval shaped, often with a small point nipple at the bottom end of the fruit. The outer skin, referred to as the peel, is yellow and textured with small dimples. Like other citrus fruit, the flesh of the lemon is divided into segments, about 8 to 10 that are surrounded with a thin edible fibrous skin. 

The flavor of the lemon is sour and stringent, while at the same time being very refreshing.

The lemon was thought to have originated in Asia where it was used as a medicine. It was later used as an ornamental plant in Islamic gardens. The sailors of the world began to use lemon juice to treat scurvy as they transported them around the world. 

Lemon is:
• Antiseptic
• Anti-microbial
• Mucus resolving

Common Varieties of Lemon
• Lisbon – A common variety, a good quality bitter lemon with high juice and acid levels. Thinner smoother skin and often seedless. 
• Eureka – Has a short neck, more textured skin with a few weeds. The fruits of Eureka and Lisbon are very similar. Vigorous and productive, trees are very thorny particularly when young.
• Meyer lemon – this lemon is sweeter in flavor. Thin-skinned and slightly less acidic than the Lisbon and Eureka lemons, Is a cross between a lemon and possibly an orange or a mandarin Meyer lemons require more care when shipping and are not widely grown on a commercial basis although they are becoming more popular.
• Verna - A Spanish variety of unknown origin.
• Bush Lemon Tree - Naturalized lemon grown wild in subtropical Australia. They are very hardy, have a thick skin with a true lemon flavor. Grows to about 4m in a sunny position. The skin makes a good zest for cooking.
• Villafranca – an Italian variety from Sicily
• Lemonade – A sweeter less acid variety of lemon

Lemon Alternatives 
There are several plants that have a similar taste to lemon. The Australian bush, lemon myrtle is a good alternative to lemon. The dries leaves and edible essential oil have no citric acid but a strong sweet lemon flavor. This makes a good alternative in foods where the acid could curdle the food such as custards and cheesecakes. Other lemony flavored herbs include Lemongrass, lemon balm, lemon thyme, some basils and lemon mint.

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What is in it


An average lemon contains about 3 tablespoons of lemon juice.


Lemon is an excellent source of vitamin C. Lemons are a strong source of citric acid and contain a compound called limonoids, in particular limonin.

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What it is good for


Lemon may be the most therapeutically valuable fruit for people who eat a high fat and high protein diet. Lemon are thought to have originated in Asia where it was known for its antiseptic properties and used as an antidote for poisons.

• A powerful antioxidants that help remove free radicals from your body.
• Strengthens your immune system
• Limonin helps prevent cancers of the mouth, lung, skin, breast, stomach and colon.
• Destroys putrefactive bacteria in the mouth and intestines.
• Purifies the breath
• Treats colds and flu
• Reduces hacking cough
• Helps treat parasite infestation
• Benefits the liver – encourages the formation of bile
• Improves absorption of minerals
• Promotes weight loss
• Cleanses the blood
• Treats high blood pressure
• Treats thick and poorly circulating blood
• Treats weak blood vessels
• Reduces flatulence
• Alleviates indigestion

Lemon increases the production of fluid in your body.


Lemon juice and water are used to:
• Reduce summer heat conditions
• Calm the nerves
• Treat sore throat
• Treat cramps
• Good for people with diabetes (often marked by fluid deficiency)

Externally Lemons are used to:
• Heal sores (apply juice)
• Relieve itching from insect bites (apply juice)
• Soften and reduce corns (poultice)
• Wash your eyes (one drop fresh juice with warm water)

Lemon peel acts on the liver, moving stagnantation; Limes have an even more specific action on the liver.

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When you get it

Lemons are grown in climates with cool crisp night temperatures; they are at their peak in mid autumn to early winter and in early spring.

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Which to select


Try to always select and eat only organic fruit without the harmful chemicals found in and on most commercially produced produce.

Choose lemons that have been ripened on the tree whenever possible as these fruit have the highest levels of antioxidants. As the fruit ripens the chlorophyll that causes the green in the leaves and fruit is converted into a powerful antioxidant that protects the plant. As you eat these ripe foods the antioxidants transfer from the food to you.

Choose lemons that feel heavy for their size, as these will have thinner skins and more juice. Avoid lemons with soft spots or wrinkled skins, as these may be old.

Why Organic?
Choose organically grown fruit whenever possible. To eat organic means to live cleanly, free of pesticides and toxins. It is a conscious choice. One you should make in order to survive right along with the planet that sustains us all. Organically grown foods do not over-run the landfills with toxic waste from their farming or subject your body to unhealthy toxins. For your health and for the planet, choose to eat organic foods. To understand more about why organic is better please read our “Why Organic?” special feature.

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Where to store

Store Lemons at room temperature until ripe, they will keen well for about one week. Then they should be stored in the refrigerator until eaten. In the refrigerator they will store well for about a month. 

It is best to allow lemon to come to room temperature for easier squeezing.

Lemon juice can store well in the freezer. Use ice cube containers to make useful sized serves of juice.

Lemon zest (grated peel) can be removed from lemons that you will juice and then dried. The dried zest will store well in an airtight glass jar.

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How to use

Wash lemon well in cool water to ensure the skin is clean. 

Use the zest (grated rind), pulp, juice or all parts together. An average lemon contains about 3 tablespoons of juice. The juice is easier to squeeze from a lemon if it is at room temperature or slightly warm. Roll the lemon between the palm of your hand and the table until you feel it soften. This releases a lot of the juice and makes it easier to squeeze.

As soon as you wake, start your day with 2 glasses of water mixed with the juice of a lemon. It is a great elixir that will kick start you liver and stomach ready to handle the foods of the day. There is nothing better than this.

In drink
• Make Lemonade with whole lemons and their juice
• Use as a garnish in drinks including tea
• Add lemon juice to water as a refreshing drink 
• Add lemon juice to ice tea or carbonated water to make them more refreshing.

As a Marinate:
• Marinate fish in lemon juice helps to neutralize the odor.
• Make a marinade for meat of lemon juice and other ingredients like herbs and garlic.  The acid in the lemon starts to break down the collagen in the meat, which has the effect of tenderizing it.

In cooking:
• Make marmalade with lemons alone or with oranges
• Use the zest to Flavor deserts and cakes such as cheesecake, puddings and sponge cakes
• Flavor savory recipes such as rice dishes and curries and sauces
• Stuff a whole organic chicken with a lemon cut in half and fresh herbs of your choice. Save the juice to pore into a sauce or gravy before serving.

Lemons are often preserved in North Africa. The lemons are pickled in a brine of water lemon juice and salt. These pickled lemons add intense lemon flavor to many Moroccan dishes.

Stop browning – the acid in lemon juice acts as a short term preservative that slow the enzymes that cause browning when a vegetal food like an apple, banana, avocado or potato has been sliced. Great for this purpose in a fruit salad or potato salad.

Non-Food Uses
• Clean and deodorize - Use as a deodorizer in the kitchen and as a disinfectant. If lemon is mixed with baking soda it can remove grease and remove stains from plastic containers.
• Insecticide – the d-limonene, a compound found in lemon oil from the zest if lemons and other citrus can be used as a non-toxic insecticide.
• Antibacterial – the low pH of lemons make then a very effective antibacterial.
• Enhance your mood and relax – When lemon oil is used as an aromatherapy.
• Lemon Juice can lighten hair color
• Half a lemon dipped in salt or baking powder can clean copper cookware.

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How much you need

To treat conditions discussed above start with 1 – 3 lemons daily for one week and increase with need. 9 to 12 lemons can be tolerated by a robust person in need of its properties.

To reach your health goals and become healthy the most important step is to eat a well balanced diet of different food from across all the food groups. Vary what you eat from each food group as often as possible.
Grains (Carbohydrates):  6 – 8 
Meat and beans Protein:  1 – 2 
Fats: 1
Dairy:     2 - 3
Fruit: 2
Vegetables: 5
Water: 6

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Things to watch out for

Ensure that the lemons you buy are not coated in wax. This is sometimes done to protect the fruit from damage and insects.

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Pear Bureau Northwest, Pears,, retrieved 01/2009.

California Pear Advisory Board,, retrieved 01/2009

The Journal of Nutrition – The American Society for Nutrition,, retrieved 05/2009.

Wikipedia, Lemon,, retrieved 01/2009

Prepared by the editors at Harvard Health Publications in consultation with Meir J. Stampfer, M.D., Dr.P.H., Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Vitamins and Minerals: What you need to know,  Harvard School of Public Health, 2008.

Bratman, Steven, and David Kroll. Natural Health Bible. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1999.

Paul Pitchford. Healing with whole food, North Atlantic Books, 2002.

Goldman L, Ausiello D. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders, 2004.

Norton Greenberger M.D. and Roanne Weisman, 4 Weeks to Healthy Digestion, Harvard School of Public Health. (2008)

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