The next time you’re about to bin a squeezed lemon, stop right there! For its peel, we’ll have you know, is packed with goodness. Cooks refer to lemon peel as zest and botanists call it flavedo. The ancient Greeks and Romans have recorded the many benefits of every part of the lemon fruit, including its peel, and modern science has found plenty to validate these.1 Here’s why these zesty skins deserve more attention.
1. Lemon Peel Is More Nutrient-Rich Than Lemon Fruit And Juice!
Lemon peel is packed with beneficial nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and each of them offers a range of health benefits. In fact, lemon peel is more nutrient-rich than the fruit or the juice. Here’s a comparative look at some of the nutrients in 100 gm each of lemon peel, lemon without the peel, and lemon juice.
|Nutrient||Lemon Peel||Lemon (Without Peel)||Lemon Juice|
|Calcium||134 mg||26 mg||6 mg|
|Potassium||160 mg||138 mg||103 mg|
|Vitamin C||129 mg||53 mg||38.7 mg|
|Fiber||10.6 gm||2.8 gm||0.3 gm|
|Vitamin A||50 IU||22 IU||6 IU2|
Lemon peel, and to a lesser extent the pith and juice of lemon, is rich in flavonoids too. These are powerful antioxidant compounds that help our bodies battle disease and degeneration.3
2. Keeps Bones And Teeth Strong
The high content of bone-friendly calcium and vitamin C in lemon peel can help keep bones and teeth strong. In fact, 100 gm of lemon peel can meet 13.4 percent of an adult’s daily recommended amount of calcium and a whopping 143 percent of vitamin C! Vitamin C is also involved in producing protein collagen, which is an essential building block for our cartilage, ligaments, tendons, skin, and blood vessels. Similarly, small amounts of calcium are also used by our bodies to keep blood vessel walls flexible and aid muscle function and hormone secretion.4 5
3. Fends Off Cancer Through Its Antioxidants
Research shows that a diet high in citrus peels can help protect against certain types of skin cancer. Lemon oil from the peel of the fruit is also rich in d-limonene, an antioxidant compound that shows promise in combating breast and colon cancer.6 There’s more! Vitamin C in the peel is a powerful antioxidant that helps the body block free radicals. A build-up of free radicals can lead to cancer, heart ailments, and arthritis.7
And let’s not forget the flavonoids in lemon peel which improve the absorption of vitamin C. The flavonoid naringenin, in particular, keeps cancer at bay by protecting against damage to DNA. It even helps repair DNA.8 The coumarin content in lemon oil, which is derived from the peel, also works as antioxidants that help prevent degenerative diseases as well as cancer.9
4. Reduces Blood Pressure And Protects Against Heart Disease
Lemon peel has a high content of potassium which, along with calcium and magnesium, helps relax the blood vessel walls and keeps your blood pressure under control. When your blood pressure is stable, it also translates to better heart health.10 Other nutrients in lemon peel such as fiber, the flavonoid hesperidin, and the pigment carotenoid, too, help manage blood pressure.11 Flavonoids can also reduce harmful LDL cholesterol, contributing to your heart health.12
5. Keeps Constipation At Bay
Lemon peel has plenty of the fruit’s fiber content. Also known as roughage, fiber helps prevent constipation, ulcers, and acid reflux. Fiber also plays a role in regulating our body weight and may help lower the risk of diabetes.13
6. Helps Maintain Eye Health
Carotenoids convert to vitamin A inside the body, and vitamin A, as we know, keeps eyes healthy and reduces the risk of eye infection. Lemon peel is rich in carotenoids and can play a role in promoting eye health too.14 15 Research also indicates that vitamin C prevents macular degeneration, an age-related eye problem.16
7. Has Potential For Healing Wounds And Infections
Extracts of lemon peel (and other citrus peels) can help in healing wounds. As one study observed, lemon peel’s strong antimicrobial properties worked against a host of bacteria. The researchers even concluded that it may be as potent as modern-day antibiotics in fighting off several bacterial infections.17 Other animal studies also show lemon peel’s potential in wound repair among diabetics. Wound healing is usually slower in diabetics than in other healthy individuals. But when test subjects in the study were given oral doses of citrus peels including lemon peel, the wounds healed faster. Tissue growth and collagen synthesis involved in wound repair were also significantly higher.18
8. Works As A Natural Deodorant
The tangy aroma of citrus helps cut down on body odor and fights bacteria. Use a hair dryer to lightly dry a used lemon peel, so it isn’t too sticky, and use the fleshy side on your underarms. You can also make an infusion of lemon peel and orange peel. Dip a cotton ball into the fluid and dot across armpits. Store this in a spray bottle and it should keep for about a week in the refrigerator.19
9. Tackles Acne
Lemon peel has astringent and antimicrobial properties, making it an effective tool for acne control. Make an infusion with strips of lemon peel and a handful of mint leaves and use this to steam your face. The essential oils in the lemon peel help cleanse the skin while mint acts as a toner.20 21
10. Fights Cholera
Lemon juice is already known to be a biocide that can destroy the cholera microorganism almost completely. Tests have shown that adding the right amount of lemon juice to water, other beverages, and foods can effectively reduce the risk of disease.22 A study has found that fresh and dehydrated lemon peel, when used similarly, can also partially inhibit the growth of the cholera microorganism.23
11. Works Against Mosquito Larvae
If you’re on the lookout for a natural alternative to chemical pesticides, know that lemon peel extracts are toxic to certain mosquito strains. Just crushing the peel in standing sources of water is enough. Of course, the effect reduces with time and fresh peel has to be crushed every couple of days for effect.24
Tips To Include Lemon Peel In Your Daily Diet
To derive the many health benefits of lemon peel, you’d have to consume it in impossibly large quantities – not a good idea because lemon juice is finally acidic and may erode teeth and cause acidity in the stomach. Instead, explore ways in which you can incorporate lemon peel into your food every day.
- Add some lemon peel to fruit juices to get the best of its flavonoids.
- Cut down on salt, which may increase blood pressure, and, instead, add lemon zest to your food as a flavorful substitute.
- Drop some lemon peel into a cup of green or black tea while it steeps. Enjoy the soothing drink with a hint of tang.
- Sun-dry lemon peels and grind or pound them into powder. Mix in cake batter or add a pinch of the powder to marinades.
- Add a lemony flavor to rice or quinoa by infusing lemon peel into the water used for boiling.
Clearly, the lemon peel can be added to virtually any food – soups, pasta, salad, and beverages. You’re only limited by your imagination!
|↑1||Arias, Beatriz Alvarez, and Luis Ramón-Laca. “Pharmacological properties of citrus and their ancient and medieval uses in the Mediterranean region.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology 97, no. 1 (2005): 89-95.|
|↑2||National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).|
|↑3, ↑9, ↑14||Stanway, Penny. The Miracle Of Lemons – Practical Tips For Health, Home And Beauty. Duncan Baird Publishers, 2013.|
|↑5, ↑7, ↑16||Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid). University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑6||Hakim, Iman A., Robin B. Harris, and Cheryl Ritenbaugh. “Citrus peel use is associated with reduced risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the skin.” Nutrition and cancer 37, no. 2 (2000): 161-168.|
|↑8||Kanno, Syu-ichi, Ayako Tomizawa, Takako Hiura, Yuu Osanai, Ai Shouji, Mayuko Ujibe, Takaharu Ohtake, Katsuhiko Kimura, and Masaaki Ishikawa. “Inhibitory effects of naringenin on tumor growth in human cancer cell lines and sarcoma S-180-implanted mice.” Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin 28, no. 3 (2005): 527-530.|
|↑10||Houston, Mark C. “The importance of potassium in managing hypertension.” Current hypertension reports 13, no. 4 (2011): 309-317.|
|↑11||Maria, Alessandra Gammone, Riccioni Graziano, and D’Orazio Nicolantonio. “Carotenoids: potential allies of cardiovascular health?.” Food & nutrition research 59, no. 1 (2015): 26762.|
|↑12||Tripoli, Elisa, Maurizio La Guardia, Santo Giammanco, Danila Di Majo, and Marco Giammanco. “Citrus flavonoids: Molecular structure, biological activity and nutritional properties: A review.” Food chemistry 104, no. 2 (2007): 466-479.|
|↑13||Anderson, James W., Pat Baird, Richard H. Davis, Stefanie Ferreri, Mary Knudtson, Ashraf Koraym, Valerie Waters, and Christine L. Williams. “Health benefits of dietary fiber.” Nutrition reviews 67, no. 4 (2009): 188-205.|
|↑15||What Is Vitamin A Deficiency?. American Academy of Ophthalmology.|
|↑17||Tumane, P. M., V. G. Meshram, and D. D. Wasnik. “Comparative study of antibacterial activity of peel extracts of Citrus aurantium L.(bitter orange) and Citrus medica L.(lemon) against clinical isolates from wound infection.” Int J Pharm Bio Sci 5, no. 1 (2014): 382-387.|
|↑18||Ahmad, M., M. N. Ansari, A. Alam, and T. H. Khan. “Oral dose of citrus peel extracts promotes wound repair in diabetic rats.” Pakistan journal of biological sciences: PJBS 16, no. 20 (2013): 1086-1094.|
|↑19||Rayburn, Debra. Let’s Get Natural With Herbs. Ozark Mountain, 2007.|
|↑20||Dhanavade, Maruti J., Chidamber B. Jalkute, Jai S. Ghosh, and Kailash D. Sonawane. “Study antimicrobial activity of lemon (Citrus lemon L.) peel extract.” British Journal of pharmacology and Toxicology 2, no. 3 (2011): 119-122.|
|↑21||Earle, Liz. Skin: Delicious Recipes and the Ultimate Plan for Radiant Skin. Hachette UK, 2016.|
|↑22||Sanford, Christopher A.; Jong, Elaine C. The Travel and Tropical Medicine Manual E-Book. Elsevier Health Sciences, 2008.|
|↑23||DE CASTILLO, Marta Cecilia, Cristina Gaudioso DE ALLORI, Rosa Cangemi DE GUTIERREZ, Olga Aulet DE SAAB, Norma Porcel DE FERNANDEZ, Clara Silva DE RUIZ, Aida Pece DE RUIZ HOLGADO, and Olga Miguel DE NADER. “Bactericidal activity of lemon juice and lemon derivatives against Vibrio cholerae.” Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin 23, no. 10 (2000): 1235-1238.|
|↑24||Thomas, Claire J., and Amanda Callaghan. “The use of garlic (Alliumsativa) and lemon peel (Citrus limom) extracts as Culex pipiens larvacides: Persistence and interaction with an organophosphate resistance mechanism.” Chemosphere 39, no. 14 (1999): 2489-2496.|