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lemon tree

“Lemon tree very pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet…”

Anyone remember those lyrics from the old Peter, Paul, and Mary song? I was humming it in my head as I typed up this column.  The reason I’ve got lemon trees on the brain is three-fold.

To begin with, I recently received a gardening catalog in the mail and was intrigued by a Meyer lemon tree that I decided to purchase. Meyer lemons are a little less sour than regular lemons, yield more juice, and as a rule have thinner skins. Meyer lemons make tasty lemonade and lemon bars (on my Top Ten list of favorite cookies).

Secondly, those of you who buy lemons on a regular basis know they can be a little pricey. I would love to be able to have my own “stash” of fresh lemons, so growing my own stock would help save money. I know I can keep an inexpensive bottle of lemon juice in the refrigerator, but bottled juice does not begin to compare to fresh juice in the flavor department. As well, you have the lemon skin for “zest” if you need it.

Health Benefits

The last reason I want my own tree is because the nutritional value of eating lemons is high. Lemons contain antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. They are an excellent source of vitamin C, one of the most important antioxidants in nature.

Compounds in lemons called limonoids help fight cancers of the mouth, skin, lung, breast, stomach and colon. Our bodies can readily absorb and utilize a very long-acting limonoid called limonin that is present in citrus fruits.

Limonin bioavailability stays in the body longer than other natural anti-carcinogens, and that even includes heavy hitters such as green tea and chocolate. Current research is also studying whether limonin may be able to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Last thoughts

The word lemon has always had a negative connotation, whether you’re talking about cars or life in general. However, lemon’s beauty is not just the fruit itself, but what it adds to other foods. Whether or not you grow your own, consider adding more lemons to your food and drink. Your body (and taste buds) will thank-you.

 

Written by:  Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

 Sources:

http://www.medwelljournals.com/fulltext/?doi=javaa.2010.1099.1107

https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/d-limonene

 

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