When you drink lemon water, your body gains several nutritional advantages. Lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C, providing 18.6 mg of the micronutrient or about 21% of the recommended daily intake. In addition, a full 8-ounce glass of lemon water gets you closer to the adequate intake of fluids suggested by health experts.
But the benefits of lemon water don't end there. Find out why this simple, inexpensive beverage has gained popularity, then use the lemon water recipes to find your favorite blend.
10 Benefits of Lemon Water
There's no specific guideline regarding how much lemon water you should drink per day. Many people enjoy one or two cups of hot lemon water in the morning and a glass or two of cold lemon water in the afternoon or evening. This should provide you with the juice of approximately two lemons, which would provide nearly 40 mg of vitamin C, according to USDA data. Drinking this flavorful water can help you take advantage of these potential health benefits.
Helps Prevents Dehydration
If you're like many Americans, you're not consuming as many fluids as you should. The Institute of Medicine recommends consuming 11 to 16 cups per day in general, but guidelines can also vary by gender and activity level. Studies suggest that men should consume about 3000 mL of fluid per day (or about 12.5 cups), and women should consume about 2,200 mL (or just over 9 cups). Exercising, especially in high heat, may warrant an intake at the high end of the recommendations.
If you don't consume adequate fluids on a regular basis, your body may become dehydrated. Research has shown that dehydration may lead to fatigue, thirst, dry skin and lips, headaches, muscle cramps, lightheadedness, or dizziness.
While some people enjoy the taste of water, others struggle to meet fluid recommendations because they don't find water satisfying. If you are one of those who doesn't like water, try adding a squeeze of lemon or use a lemon water recipe to increase your fluid intake. You may find that your energy level and sense of wellness increase as a result of being properly hydrated.
May Help Promote Healthy Weight Management
Low-calorie lemon water can help fill you up and help you to feel satiated, which can be beneficial for healthy weight management. The juice from two lemons provides just 20 calories, far less than many sweetened beverages like soda or sweetened tea.
However, it is important to understand the scope of this benefit if weight loss is your goal. The consumption of lemon extract and lemon-fermented beverages has been associated with fat loss and a decreased incidence of obesity in limited rodent studies. However, evidence supporting this benefit is lacking in humans.
There have been studies showing that an increased fluid intake is associated with healthy body composition in humans and that increased hydration can be associated with weight loss in humans and animals. But if you're trying to lose weight, keep in mind that there is no evidence that lemons alone provide weight loss benefits in humans. If lemon water benefits you by helping you to stay hydrated, it can be a healthy part of a weight loss program along with a balanced diet.
May Improve Blood Sugar Levels
An interesting study published in the European Journal of Nutrition in 2021 compared the consumption of tea to lemon water with regard to glycemic response. Study participants consumed 250 mL (about a cup) of either water, black tea, or lemon juice along with a 100-gram serving (about a slice) of bread. Researchers measured blood sugar levels for three hours after intake. They found that after consuming lemon water, the glycemic response was lower. The change was not seen with tea or water. Researchers believe that lowering the pH of a meal may help to slow down starch digestion.
This benefit may be helpful for those who follow low-carb diets or low-glycemic diets. But again, it is important to take the conclusions with a grain of salt. Study authors note that animal studies have provided similar findings, but studies like this in humans are limited. Also, this research project was small in scope.
If you track your carb or starch intake for health reasons and want to use lemon juice to help keep blood sugar in control, talk to a registered dietitian or your healthcare provider first to make sure that you maintain the proper nutritional balance for good health.
May Improve Digestion
Citrus fruits may be able to enhance digestion, according to one 2012 research paper published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. Experts at the Cleveland Clinic explain that the high levels of acid in citrus fruits, like lemon, are important for breaking down food in the stomach. They say that the benefit may be especially important for older adults who may experience decreases in stomach acid associated with age.
May Reduce Your Risk for Cancer
Believe it or not, drinking lemon water may lower your risk for certain types of cancer. For example, a 2015 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found consuming citrus fruit may help lower your risk of digestive tract and larynx cancers. Furthermore, the Office of Dietary Supplements confirms that vitamin C found in lemon juice could help prevent certain cancers such as lung, breast, and colon cancer.
Provides Anti-Aging and Antioxidant Effects
Vitamin C in lemon juice is a powerful antioxidant, which can help you maintain a healthy body and a more youthful look. Antioxidants help prevent oxidative damage associated with aging, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Oxidative stress occurs as a result of exposure to environmental toxins (such as cigarette smoke, air pollution, or sunlight). The antioxidants in fruits and vegetables may help to combat these changes, says the NIH. And a 2012 review in Dermatoendocrinology found that ingesting vitamin C and other antioxidants (like vitamin E) can help reduce skin wrinkles caused by ultraviolet radiation.
May Decrease Risk of Gallstones
Lemon water's vitamin C content may help reduce your chance of developing painful gallstones, according to an observational study published in BMC Gastroenterology. Researchers who conducted the study found that higher vitamin C intakes helped reduce the presence of gallstones from 8% to 5%. Iron supplements may also help prevent gallstone formation, according to another study and vitamin C enhances iron absorption.
May Boost Immunity
Another lemon water benefit is that it may help to boost immunity and heal wounds. Scientists know that vitamin C helps the immune system function properly. Vitamin C is also essential for wound healing. So getting your daily dose each day may help you to prevent and manage illness or injury.
May Help Reduce Cold Symptoms
And if you're interested in suffering less with a common cold, your daily dose of lemon water may help. While researchers haven't seen substantial benefits in taking vitamin C supplements, studies have suggested that getting more vitamin C may be helpful in reducing cold symptoms.
May Promote Heart Health
Lemon water may be able to lower your risk for developing heart disease. The Office of Dietary Supplements reports that although more research is needed, vitamin C in lemon juice may help prevent heart disease and other diseases that oxidative stress may cause. For instance, a large-scale study of nurses showed that vitamin C intake (from both dietary and supplemental sources) was inversely associated with coronary heart disease risk. But other studies showed no benefit.
Lemon Water Adverse Effects
While lemon juice benefits can help people to enjoy healthier lives, there are some potential adverse effects to keep in mind.
First, some people may want to avoid citrus fruits, like lemons and lemon juice. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases suggests that if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) you may want to avoid citrus fruits or tomatoes as they can cause stomach upset.
In addition, the American Dental Association explains that frequently consuming acidic foods can erode tooth enamel, putting you at higher risk for tooth decay. So if you drink lemon water and consume other citrus fruits, you might want to check with your dentist to be sure that your daily habit isn't affecting your teeth.
Lastly, there are limits to the amount of vitamin C you should consume. The tolerable upper limit for vitamin C is 2000 mg per day. Since the juice of two lemons only provides about 40 mg, most people should be fine, but always check with your healthcare provider if you have concerns.
Lemon Water Recipes
The easiest way to enjoy lemon water is simply to squeeze the juice of a half lemon into eight ounces of cool water. You can also add fresh lemon to sparkling water or hot water. The benefits of hot lemon water (or warm lemon water) are the same as they are for cold lemon water, with the addition of one handy advantage. If you currently consume high-calorie coffee beverages in the morning and you replace that habit with a hot lemon water habit, you can save yourself thousands of calories over the course of a week.
Need ideas for lemon water recipes? Try any of these delicious beverages.
- Hot lemon and honey water: Many people drink lemon and honey water when they are sick. But there is no reason to reserve this yummy concoction for when you have a cold. Pour hot water over lemons in your favorite cup. Add just a teaspoon of honey and adjust as needed to get your desired sweetness.
- Hot lemon and mint water: This aromatic blend is right for you if you love minty freshness. Again, add the water to the lemon first, then add a few mint leaves to your drink and let it steep for a minute before you sip and enjoy.
- Lemon basil water: Adding herbs (like basil) to water gives it a savory flair that is surprisingly delicious. Basil and lemon work beautifully together. Add a few basil leaves and a lemon wedge to a big glass of chilled water for a refreshing drink.
- Lemon berry water: Add blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries to a pitcher of lemon water and let it sit in your refrigerator. The sweetness of the berries helps to balance the tartness of the lemons.
- Lemon cucumber water: Cucumbers add a freshness to water that is unmistakable. Slice up a half cucumber and a whole lemon and add the slices to a carafe of cool water. Enjoy throughout the day.
Remember that there is no right or wrong way to enjoy lemon water and to take advantage of lemon water benefits. Experiment with your favorite flavors (some people enjoy ginger or even cayenne pepper!) to find a few lemon water recipes that hit the spot for you.