Juice up your meals and your health with lemons
Lemons are often underrated when it comes to the kitchen and our health. They are an amazing fruit packed full of so many properties, that you will want to use more in your recipes. This week, I will discuss the various properties of lemons, some conditions which they can help with, as well as some simple ways that you can include them more in your diet. Also, we will look at a few tips and tricks when buying them in the grocery store.
Nearly every morning when I wake up I drink a glass of water with some fresh lemon juice added. I don’t juice a lemon every day. Instead, to keep things simple I will juice several lemons at a time and then keep the juice in a glass jam jar in the fridge. I then just add about a tablespoon or two every morning of lemon juice to some warm water. This simple gesture can bring about some subtle changes to your health.
Lemons are known for their blood purifying qualities so including them in your diet will help to support your liver, as one of its main functions is to clean our blood of toxins and chemicals. These can quickly accumulate when you start thinking of our daily environments which, are full of beauty products and environmental chemicals such as smoke and exhaust fume, all of which enter the body. Therefore, drinking lemon juice water first thing in the morning, means that the liver is ‘woken up’ and is supported in its role of reducing our toxic load by filtering and cleaning our blood before we start the day.
Phytonutrients have both an anti-inflammatory effect and are also antioxidants, which help to reduce the signs ageing on the body and lemons are full of phytonutrients. Lemons can not only help to boost your immune system due to their vitamin C content, which is why they are ideal to help with coughs and colds, but this same vitamin C also supports the production of collagen which is the support network of the skin, so it may help to improve your complexion. Food rich in vitamin C is known to help the body absorb iron, so for those suffering from anaemia, squeezing a little lemon juice on that spinach salad is a great way to support your body and to support your iron levels.
Due to its acidic nature, lemon juice is considered to be a solvent, meaning that it can help breakdown fat, so if you are eating a heavy meal you can either have a glass of lemon water or have a salad with a lemon dressing as both will help with improving your digestion, and the lemon juice will help to neutralize the fat.
Individuals who have a diet high in animal protein and low in fruits and vegetables may find that they are susceptible to chronic illnesses such as gout and kidney stones. Gout is an inflammatory condition and can be a result of a diet high in animal protein, which when broken down produces purines. If these can’t be filtered out of the body by the kidneys, they are converted to uric acid. When there is too much uric acid in the body, it is deposited around the joints which results in them becoming swollen and inflamed. Calcium oxalate is one of the most common forms of kidney stones and can also result from a persistent diet high in animal protein. Both conditions can be helped by including lemon juice in the diet which by nature neutralizes the uric acid and can help to reduce the inflammation.
There are some very simple ways to include more lemon juice in your diet, a simple one which I love now that the weather is getting warmer is lemon ice cubes. I will fill an ice cube tray with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Putting the tray in the freezer means that I then I have lemon cubes which I can add to a jug or flask of water to give it that extra zest, or you can just a few slices of fresh lemon. I also use lemon juice when making salad dressing by simply making the dressing half lemon juice half honey, or you can try this summer buddha bowl with its simple olive oil, maple syrup, lemon juice dressing, that really brings out the various flavours. Also, when stir-frying vegetables, you can squeeze a little lemon juice on top as this will help to bring out the flavours of the various vegetables.
When out grocery shopping, make sure that the lemon feels heavy in your hand and has a good weight, the skin should not be mottled but instead, be a nice bright yellow colour without any dark spots. They can be kept at room temperature for about two weeks, any longer than that I would store them in the refrigerator in a plastic bag so that they do not dry out.
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Photo: ghislaine-guerin, Unsplash