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The lemon, with its contribution of vitamin C and other antioxidant substances, constitutes a treasure for health. In its aroma, as intense as its beautiful yellow, lies the secret of countless recipes.
Lemons, like most fruits, are very rich in water, have very few calories, are free of cholesterol, and their content in total and saturated fats is negligible. In addition, it has a third less sugar than the rest of fruits. All of this makes it very light (just 28.5 cal / 100g).
According to current legislation, it can be said that a food is a "source" of a certain vitamin or mineral only when 100 grams of the food provide 15% of the daily recommendations for that vitamin or mineral. If they provide 30%, then it can be said to be "rich" in that nutrient. Sticking to the legislation, we can only proclaim that lemon juice (lemon is rarely eaten without squeezing) is rich in vitamin C: 100 grams provide 62% of the recommended amount per day.
At this point, it is worth mentioning an interesting research coordinated by Dr. Boyer and published in May 2004 in Nutrition Journal. Dr. Boyer's numbers did not add up: how can it be so healthy to consume apples (in which, as in lemon, only vitamin C stands out as a micronutrient) but that taking vitamin C in pills does not provide the same benefits to health? The explanation lies in its phytochemicals and its many health benefits.
The power of limonene
One of the most studied lemon phytochemicals, for its potential to promote health and for its safety, is a terpene called limonene. So much so that scientists are trying today to design foods enriched with limonoids to prevent cancer and many other diseases. Specifically, it has been suggested that limonoids could reduce the risk of degenerative diseases, hypertension, cataracts, heart attack and some cancers, although human studies are lacking to draw definitive conclusions.
In the kitchen
Before using a lemon, the first thing that should be done, even if it is biological, is to wash it to prevent dirt and bacteria that could reside on its surface from coming into contact with the pulp. If only the juice is to be used, it should be left out of the fridge for a few hours, in a warm place, as this produces more juice, and even more if it is slightly kneaded before squeezing it.
With lemon juice, in addition to giving an acidic counterpoint to dishes, many vegetables and fruits are prevented from oxidizing, which would dull their presentation. That is one of the reasons why it is ideal for seasoning cabbages, other green leafy vegetables, avocados, artichokes or mushrooms.
As for marinades, few spices and aromatic herbs combine as well with lemon juice as cumin or coriander, especially if it is to be used in seafood dishes. A marinade that spectacularly transforms any fish or tofu dish is one made with a glass of lemon juice, 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 2 pressed garlic, 2 bay leaves and half a teaspoon of cumin, sweet paprika, oregano and Salt. Any ingredient that we leave in that mixture for a minimum of six hours is going to delight many palates.
The skin is also very aromatic and is used to perfume many preparations.
Julio Basulto (health) and Laura Kohan (kitchen)