Lemons first achieved fame from on board the ships of early explorers by helping sailors prevent scurvy, which was then a common disease on the high seas. The lack of fresh fruit and produce took a huge toll on the sailors’ bodies and many died from malnutrition while at sea. While lemons were viewed as a hero back then, they have fallen out of favor in modern times to other high vitamin C foods, such as oranges and tomatoes.
Lemons pack a lot of nutrition inside their thick yellow skin and should be used for more than a garnish. One raw lemon without its peel has 17 calories, 5 grams of carbohydrates including 1.6 grams of dietary fiber, 51% of Daily Value for vitamin C, as well as well as small amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper and manganese. Due to their high vitamin C content, lemons have become known for having potential health benefits including: reducing the risk of stroke, fight the formation of free radicals that can cause cancer, contributing to healthy skin, reducing the risk of asthma, increasing iron absorption, and helping boost immunity.
While their tart taste essentially prevents them from being eaten as a snack similar to an orange or even grapefruit, lemons can be a low calorie, flavorful, highly nutritious and healthy component of many recipes. Being able to add the beneficial nutrients in lemons into a post bariatric surgery diet may be easier and tastier than you think. Gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and lap band patients may be able to reap the benefits of lemons while still maintaining their low calorie diet.
We highlight 3 ways to use lemons:
- In your water
Adding lemon slices or wedges to your water during the day will give your drink a refreshing flavor without being too tart. The juice from the pulp will leach into your water infusing it with vitamin C and other beneficial nutrients. Many people swear by drinking a cup of hot lemon water every day to help stimulate digestion and reduce inflammation, in addition to being tasty and possibly preventing us from reaching for a higher calorie, less healthy drink such as juice or soda. By adding the lemon in slices or wedges as opposed to just the juice, you also get the benefit of the lemon oils from the rind.
- As a dressing or marinade
Lemon juice and lemon zest add flavor and acid to foods when used in a dressing, sauce, or marinade. The lemon can add a brightness to vegetable dishes and can help tenderize meat and fish dishes. When making a dressing or marinade, include lemon juice and zest along with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and a selection of spices such as basil, red pepper, cilantro, rosemary, or parsley. Use on vegetables such as tossed salads, kale, green beans, asparagus, broccoli or broccolini, and proteins such as shrimp, scallops, salmon, tilapia, halibut, and of course chicken.
- In a smoothie
We often think of smoothies as sweet, but adding lemon can help add some extra flavor. Lemons do well in smoothies containing strawberries, blueberries, or mangoes, and with vegetables such as kale and spinach. How much lemon you add is up to you and depends on your preference, but adding the lemon can boost your smoothies’ nutrient content while adding minimal calories and carbohydrates. While adjustable lap band patients should shy away from smoothies after they have advanced their diet to solids, they may find them beneficial in the early stages after surgery.
The above Food Highlight on lemons is offered by Dr. Shillingford, M.D., P.A., a board certified surgeon specializing in laparoscopic and bariatric surgery. Dr. Shillingford offers gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and adjustable lap band surgery. His Boca Raton office serves patients from all over Florida, including Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, St. Petersburg, Tampa, and as far away as New York.