What are the health benefits of lemons & limes? I can’t say I’m a huge fan of citrus fruits, but the properties they deliver make them worth adding to some dishes.
Colds & flu
The first thing about citrus fruits is that they are packed with vitamin C. This is vital for immune function, as it allows white blood cells to attack bugs more ferociously. This is because it is used by white blood cells to instigate something called the oxidative burst. This is a cloud of highly toxic free radicals that white cells fire at pathogens, which can kill them rapidly. Vitamin C also helps to mobilise white cells to the site of infection more readily. Lemons and limes are also rich in a compound called kaempferol, which has notable antibiotic properties. These have been demonstrated epidemiologically as well as clinically.
Citrus fruits are also rich in bioflavonoids. These compounds are beneficial for the health of the cardiovascular system. This is because they have an effect upon the endothelium – the highly physiologically active inner skin that lines our blood vessels. Flavonoids get taken up by the endothelial cells that make up the endothelium, and cause metabolic distress within these cells. When this happens, the endothelial cells are stimulated to release something called Nitric Oxide. This is something they release naturally for regulating blood pressure, but flavonoids almost force the process. Nitric Oxide, when released by endothelial cells, moves out into the musculature of the vessel walls and causes these muscles to relax. As these muscles relax, the vessel gets bigger. As it gets bigger, the pressure within it drops. In short – flavonoids can have a temporary lowering effect upon blood pressure. Flavonoids can also help to increase the resilience of the endothelium against inflammatory damage. Damage that can set the stage for heart disease.