Loving the Lemon

When life gives you this tart, nutritious yellow fruit, rejoice!
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To hear folks talk, you’d think the lemon was something bad. Its name is used to describe a trouble-prone car—or challenge life presents that must be turned into lemonade. But shed no tears for this yellow powerhouse—unless its juice gets in your eyes. Though its pulp isn’t usually consumed raw (unlike the orange’s), this citrus superstar gives us one of our favorite flavors, and a bounty of health benefits to boot.

Power up

Lemons contain vitamin c, a water-soluble antioxidant, which does the important job of neutralizing free radicals in your body, helping to guard against cancer. They also boast potassium (more than apples or grapes) along with calcium, flvonoids, phytochemicals and B vitamins, and they’re a fiber source. They’re low in calories and have no saturated fats or cholesterol. If all that’s not enough, lemons also can help prevent the formation of kidney stones.

Buy • store • serve

When the produce manager isn’t looking, squeeze lemons just a bit—the juiciest ones will give a little; they’re the ones you want. To keep them fresh, store in a plastic bag in the fridge—in one test, the fruits lasted four times longer this way than on the shelf at room temperature. Lemons and lemon juice are widely used in cooking, baking (an american fave: lemon meringue pie), desserts and salads. Lemon juice is great on fish, and who doesn’t crave lemonade on a hot summer’s day? (Tip: Meyer lemons have a sweeter, less acidic flavor than their super-sour cousins.)

Did you know?

The lemon tree is a small evergreen native to Asia, yet it has been cultivated in the Mediterranean since the first century A.D. Lemon trees are workhorses that can bear fruit all year round; one tree can produce 500–600 pounds of lemons a year. (Despite that, there was a time when lemons were presented as gifts to kings because of their rarity.) Today, China is the top worldwide grower of lemons, while California and Arizona produce 95 percent of the U. S. crop.

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