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Lemon Juice & Cholesterol

By Meg Brannagan

Lemons are a type of citrus fruit that, when squeezed into lemon juice, create a tart flavor added to freshen many foods and recipes. Lemons have been cultivated for over 2,500 years and their nutritional properties provide vitamins that promote good health and protect against diseases. Lemon juice contains no fat, and has other properties to protect against high cholesterol levels.

Types of Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is widely available, whether you make it yourself or buy it in a container. Squeezing the juice from lemons produces fresh lemon juice, although canned or bottled varieties are available and can be stored for later use. One cup of fresh lemon juice contains only 61 calories and has 21 grams of carbohydrates in the form of dietary fiber and sugar.

Beneficial Compounds

Lemon juice contains a type of compound called limonin glucoside, a substance found in many citrus fruits. According to the Agricultural Research Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, compounds in citrus fruits called citrus limonoids have protective properties against cancer. One type of limonoid, called limonin, may also help to lower levels of LDL cholesterol, the "bad" cholesterol.

Benefits of Lemon Juice

The positive benefits of limonin found in lemon juice last longer than some other types of natural compounds. According to research by the U.S. Agricultural Research Service, limonin may remain in the bloodstream for up to 24 hours for some people. This means that the protective benefits and cholesterol-lowering properties of limonin may be available in your body for longer periods, so you don't have to continuously consume more servings of lemon juice or other citrus juice to get these benefits.

Vitamin C Content

One cup of lemon juice contains 94 milligrams of vitamin C -- enough to fulfill the recommended daily requirement for most adults. Vitamin C is a type of micronutrient that is known as a water-soluble vitamin. Your body does not store vitamin C and it must be taken in through your diet. According to Linus Pauling Institute, vitamin C may help to convert cholesterol into bile acids, which are important for the digestion of fats. This conversion may help with blood cholesterol levels.

Significance of Benefits

Lemon is often added to tea to enhance flavor, but lemon juice and green tea together may provide increased health benefits. In a 2007 study in "Molecular Nutrition and Food Research," Mario Ferruzzi of Purdue University states that when lemon juice is added to green tea, it may increase the absorption of catechins during digestion. Catechins are a type of antioxidant found in green tea that help to protect the body against cancer, heart disease and stroke. They are often eliminated in the intestines before the body can retain some of their health benefits, but lemon juice was shown to keep 80 percent of catechins available for bodily absorption.

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