Lemon water is a popular home remedy, with online sources claiming that it can help improve digestion, detox the body, or promote weight loss.
This article uses scientific evidence to explore the benefits of and myths surrounding lemon water.
What is lemon water?
Lemon water is simply the juice of lemons mixed with water.
The amount of lemon juice in lemon water depends on the person’s preference. People may drink it cold or hot.
Lemon water has become a popular morning beverage, with people using it as a refreshing pick-me-up due to claims that it can boost energy levels and metabolism.
Aside from that, lemons contain few nutrients. Lemon water contains very little protein, fat, carbohydrate, or sugar, and it contains only trace amounts of other vitamins and minerals, including potassium, folate, and some B vitamins.
According to the United States Department for Agriculture database, the nutrient breakdown for lemon water containing one 48 gram (g) squeezed lemon is as follows:
- 10.6 calories
- 18.6 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, or 21% DV
- 9.6 micrograms (mcg) of folate, or 2% DV
- 49.4 mg of potassium, or 1% DV
- 0.01 mg of vitamin B-1, or 1% DV
- 0.01 mg of vitamin B-2, or 1% DV
- 0.06 mg of vitamin B-5, or 1% DV
Although a single glass does not seem to provide a lot of nutrients, lemon water is a healthful, low calorie, and low sugar beverage that can boost a person’s vitamin C intake.
For comparison, replacing the lemon with the juice of half an orange (weighing 43 g) would provide almost twice as many calories, about three times as much sugar, and 24% DV of vitamin C.
The nutritional value of each glass of lemon water depends on how much lemon juice it contains, as well as any other ingredients.
Due to its high vitamin C levels, flavonoid content, and acidity, drinking lemon water may have several health benefits.
The following sections will discuss these in more detail.
Antioxidants and flavonoids
Lemons contain vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, and are a source of plant compounds called flavonoids, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Antioxidants are compounds that help protect the body’s cells from damage. By reducing cell damage, antioxidants reduce the risk of many health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer.
Citrus flavonoids also reduce inflammation in the body.
One 2019 review reports that the antioxidants and flavonoids in citrus fruits can improve heart health and metabolic health markers, including glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, and fat metabolism.
Vitamin C is also important for immune system function, wound healing, and helping the body absorb iron from foods.
Some studies suggest that drinking lemon water may help treat kidney stones. It appears to be most effective alongside conventional therapy, but it may also be a useful alternative treatment.
Kidney stones are a buildup of minerals that collect in the kidneys. They are usually made up of calcium oxate. The most common treatment is a compound called citrate.
Increasing the amount of citrate in the body prevents kidney stones from forming by stopping calcium from binding with other compounds.
Lemon water contains high amounts of citrate. According to a 2015 review, numerous studies have found that citrus fruits, including lemon, can increase urine levels of citrate, which may help treat kidney stones.
A lack of water in the body is a common cause of kidney stones. Drinking more water can therefore help prevent kidney stones, regardless of whether or not there is lemon in it.
The benefits of water
Lemon water is water with lemon juice added, which means that it has all the benefits of regular water.
Drinking plenty of water has benefits for:
- Weight loss: It can increase feelings of fullness and boost metabolism slightly, which can help with weight loss.
- Mental health: It can optimize mood and memory.
- Digestive health: It can help relieve constipation.
- Exercise performance: It can improve athletic performance.