Lemon is a popular citrus fruit, along with oranges, limes, and grapefruit, that is often used in cooking.
Usually it’s the juice and zest that are used most, with the actual peel being discarded. Studies have shown that the peel is full of bioactive compounds that could be beneficial to health.
Here are 9 possible benefits and ways to use lemon peel:
1. Full of Nutrients
Even when eaten in small amounts, lemon peels are nutritious. One tablespoon provides 1 gram carbs, 1 gram fiber, and 9% of the Daily Value (DV) of vitamin C.
It also contains small amounts of calcium, potassium, and magnesium along with D-limonene, which gives the lemon its smell and may be responsible for many of the health benefits.
2. May Support Dental Health
Lemon peel contains antibacterial compounds that may inhibit the growth of damaging bacteria like Streptococcus mutans that are responsible for dental cavities and oral diseases.
Researchers found four compounds in lemon peel that have powerful antibacterial properties and effectively fight common oral disease-causing bacteria.
3. Rich in Antioxidants
Lemon peel is high in D-limonene and vitamin C, which are antioxidants that fight cellular damage caused by free radicals.
Flavonoid antioxidants like D-limonene are linked to reduced risk of some conditions, like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
A test-tube study found that lemon peel had stronger antioxidant capabilities than grapefruit or tangerine peels. The vitamin C in lemon peel also acts as an antioxidant and helps to boost immune health.
4. Possible Antimicrobial and Antifungal Properties
Lemon peel could be an effective antimicrobial and antifungal agent. In a test-tube study, lemon peel significantly harmed and reduced the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Another test-tube study showed that lemon peel extract was effective at fighting a drug-resistant fungus that causes skin infections.
5. May Give Your Immune System a Boost
Lemon peel extract may boost your immune system due to the flavonoid and vitamin C it contains.
A review of 82 studies found that 1-2 grams of vitamin C per day reduced the severity and length of the common cold by 8% in adults, and 14% in children.
Vitamin C also accumulates in phagocytes, which are a type of cell that absorbs harmful compounds.
6. Could be Healthy for the Heart
Research indicates that compounds like flavonoids, vitamin C and pectin (the main fiber in lemon peel), may reduce your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease.
A review of 14 studies found that an average increase of 10 mg of flavonoids per day reduced the risk of heart disease by 5%.
A study of 60 overweight children showed that when they had supplements of lemon powder that contained peel, they had a reduction in blood pressure and harmful LDL cholesterol.
The pectin in lemon peels could also reduce cholesterol by increasing the excretion of bile acids, which are produced by the liver to bind cholesterol.
7. May Reduce Cancer Risk
Lemon peel may have cancer-fighting properties, due to the flavonoids it contains, which are linked with a reduced risk of several types of cancer.
Vitamin C can help boost the growth of white blood cells, which help destroy mutated cancer cells, and D-limonene may also be effective at protecting from cancer, especially cancer of the stomach.
A test-tube study found that D-limonene helped to kill stomach cancer cells, and a rodent study noted that D-limonene slowed the progression of stomach cancer by increasing the death rate of the mutated cells.
8. Could Treat Gallstones
Gallstones are hard deposits that can form in your gallbladder and cause problems. Some studies indicate that D-limonene may help treat gallstones, and one study showed that 48% of people on the study who were injected with D-limonene solvent had their gallstones completely disappear.
9 Other Uses for Lemon Peel
Lemon peel has other household and beauty uses:
All-purpose cleaner – fill a jar with lemon peels and white vinegar, and put a lid on. Leave it to sit for several weeks, then remove the peels and mix the remaining liquid with equal parts of water. Deodorizer – put a few lemon peels in your fridge, or at the bottom of your dustbin to absorb bad smells. Cleans stainless steel – make a paste with some salt on the item you want to clean and rub stains off with the lemon peels and salt. Rinse afterwards. Clean your kettle – fill your kettle with water and lemon peel, then bring to the boil to remove mineral deposits. Leave the water in for an hour before rinsing. Body scrub – mix some sugar, olive oil, and finely chopped lemon peel, then massage onto wet skin before rinsing well. Face mask – mix rice flour, lemon peel powder, and cold milk for an exfoliating and cleansing face mask.
Add Lemon Peel to Your Diet
Add lemon zest to baked goods, salads, and yogurts Try grating the peel of frozen lemons and sprinkle it on soups, drinks, dressing and marinades Dehydrate the peels by cutting them into strips and baking at 200F then add them to tea Chopping dehydrated peels and mixing them with salt and pepper to use as homemade seasoning Add fresh peels to cocktails or to add zest to a cup of hot tea