What health benefits do lemons have?

What health benefits do lemons have?

What health benefits do lemons have?

It’s a well known fact that fruits in general are good for your health, but they’re not all made equally. Which fruits should be a part of your five a day? To help you, we’ve come up with this list of seven health benefits you can get from lemons. 

1. They’re a good source of vitamin C

A single whole lemon can provide 31 mg of vitamin C, which is almost three-quarters of what the NHS recommends adults get every day. The body can’t store vitamin C, so it’s important to get enough in your diet every day to make sure you don’t lose out on health benefits. 

Vitamin C helps to:

  • Protect your cells
  • Maintain healthy bones, skin, cartilage and blood vessels
  • Heal your wounds

If you don’t get enough vitamin C in your diet, you run the risk of getting scurvy – a vitamin C deficiency that can cause fatigue, pain, and increased vulnerability to sickness[1].

2. They can prevent kidney stones

Kidney stones develop when waste products solidify in your kidneys. They’re common, and often if you’ve had one before, you’re more likely to get one again. So how can lemons help you pass a kidney stone?

Lemons are high in citric acid, which may help to break down stones before they can become a problem. Citric acid might also increase urine volume, making it easier to pass any kidney stones that do form[2]

Although it’s yet to be conclusively proven, there is some evidence to suggest that lemons can help prevent stones from forming in the first place, too. Citric acid contains a salt called citrate, which may bind to calcium and therefore stop it from binding with other compounds – basically, it sticks to calcium and prevents it from building up into a kidney stone[2]

3. They can relieve a sore throat

Lemons can help with a sore throat in two separate ways[3]

Firstly, the acidity of lemon juice or lemon water may help to break up the mucus in your throat, making swallowing less painful. Bacteria and viruses may also be attacked by the acid, which could help you recover quicker. Secondly, the high vitamin C content in lemons gives your immune system a boost, which may help your body to fight off the infection quicker so the sore throat goes away sooner[1]

By drinking lemon water, you’re also lubricating your throat, which may help to reduce pain caused by friction on the already sensitive area. It’s also tasty – win-win!

4. They improve the absorption of iron

There are two types of iron we absorb from the food we eat: haem iron which comes from animal matter, and non-haem iron which comes from plant matter. Our bodies are really good at absorbing haem iron, but not so good at absorbing non-haem iron. However, we can make it easier for our bodies to absorb non-haem iron by consuming lots of vitamin C and citric acid[1]

Fortunately, lemons are high in both citric acid and vitamin C, so they may help you to absorb more iron from your diet. This can help to prevent iron deficiency anaemia – and it’s especially important if your diet is primarily plant based. 

5. They improve digestion

Lemons contain lots of soluble fibre – a form of carbohydrate which is great for digestion. Soluble fibre can help slow down the digestion of sugars and starches, which can reduce blood sugar levels. It’s also been linked to improved gut health[4]

However, there is a small catch. To reap the benefits of lemons’ soluble fibre, you have to eat the pulp – simply drinking the juice won’t be enough. Lemon pulp can be used to flavour cakes, puddings, stews and soups, so there are lots of ways to sneak it into your diet.

6. Lemon water is a healthy alternative to sugary drinks

If you like fruit-flavoured drinks, you may find you often end up drinking high sugar beverages that can have a big impact on your health. Consuming lots of sugar can put you at risk of a variety of different conditions[5] – but there is a way to avoid this without sacrificing flavour. 

Lemon water – that is, water mixed with the juice of a lemon – is a natural, easy-to-make, no-added-sugar alternative that still packs the zing you’re looking for. It’s also a great alternative to plain water if you’re looking to diversify your beverages.

7. They make you feel fuller for longer

Some research suggests that the pectin found in lemon pulp and rind may make you feel fuller[6]. Drinking lemon water could boost this effect, as water is also known to increase feelings of fullness – which might just keep you from reaching for the snacks.


[1] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-c/

[2] Gul, Zeynep, and Manoj Monga. “Medical and dietary therapy for kidney stone prevention.” Korean journal of urology vol. 55,12 (2014): 775-9. doi:10.4111/kju.2014.55.12.775 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4265710/

[3] Sebo, Paul et al. “Nonpharmacological home remedies for upper respiratory tract infections: a cross-sectional study of primary care patients in Switzerland and France.” Family practice, cmad084. 13 Aug. 2023, doi:10.1093/fampra/cmad084 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37573550/

[4] Barber, Thomas M et al. “The Health Benefits of Dietary Fibre.” Nutrients vol. 12,10 3209. 21 Oct. 2020, doi:10.3390/nu12103209 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7589116/

[5] https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/food-types/how-does-sugar-in-our-diet-affect-our-health/

[6] Adam, Clare L et al. “Soluble Fermentable Dietary Fibre (Pectin) Decreases Caloric Intake, Adiposity and Lipidaemia in High-Fat Diet-Induced Obese Rats.” PloS one vol. 10,10 e0140392. 8 Oct. 2015, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0140392 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4598151/