Lemon Juice: Are There Health Benefits?

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on September 25, 2020

The lemon’s exact origin is unknown, but documented evidence of its value goes back almost 2,000 years. The lemon tree, a type of citrus plant, is grown in subtropical and tropical areas. Most lemons are grown in Mediterranean countries, California, and Florida, which provide supermarkets with fresh lemons year-round. 

Lemon juice has a myriad of uses, from culinary to medicinal. Lemons are used in desserts, beverages, and as a garnish for meat and fish dishes. Lemon juice is a natural cleaner and stain remover. Lemon oil provides the fragrance for perfumes, soaps, and skin creams.

Lemon juice has been used medicinally for hundreds of years. People have used lemon juice for virus prevention and have mixed it with honey and ginger as an effective cold treatment. Antibacterial compounds in lemons can cure mouth infections like gingivitis and act as a laxative in the digestive system.

Nutrition Information

One tablespoon of lemon juice contains: 

  • Calories: 3
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 1 gram
  • Fiber: 0 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams

Lemon juice is an excellent source of Vitamin C. Studies have shown that Vitamin C is a vital nutrient in preventing many modern diseases. 

Vitamin C is essential in bone formation, connective tissue repair, and gum health. It also helps the immune system fight infections and protects against free radical damage of cells. Researchers have found that vitamin C treatment helps prevent atherosclerosis by strengthening artery walls, and is useful in treating infertility and neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s.

Potential Health Benefits of Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is a rich source of beneficial phytochemicals and has multiple health-promoting effects. Research has found several potential health benefits to drinking lemon juice: 

Antibacterial Effects

Lemon juice has antibacterial and antifungal properties. The plant compounds in lemon juice concentrate effectively inhibited the growth of salmonella, staphylococcus, and candida infections in one study. It was also effective against one particular antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which causes pneumonia and blood infections. 

Lower Blood Pressure

Japanese researchers looked at a possible relationship between lemon juice consumption and blood pressure. They found an inverse relationship, meaning the more lemon juice a test subject ingested, the lower the their blood pressure. More research is needed to determine why lemon juice compounds may lower blood pressure.

Cancer Prevention

Lemon juice is a valuable source of flavonoids that help protect against cancer. These flavonoids have antioxidant properties and interfere with cancer development and spread. In one study, lemon juice was particularly effective in inhibiting the growth of leukemia cells. 

Cancer Treatment

Lemon juice could prove useful in the treatment of certain cancers as it has been shown to suppress tumor growth. Researchers have discovered that lemon-derived cell messaging agents inhibit cell-reproduction and activate cancer cell death. 

Potential Risks of Lemon Juice

Because lemon juice has such potent ingredients, you should consult with your doctor before taking it or any other supplement. Consider the following before drinking lemon juice:

Citrus Allergies

If you’re allergic to grass pollen or other citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, or limes, you may also be allergic to lemons. The most common reactions are itching, burning, or swelling of the mouth and throat. Some people can experience headaches or gastrointestinal distress.

May Erode Dental Enamel

There have been cases of dental erosion in people who consume lemon juice in large amounts. The natural acids found in lemon juice can erode dental enamel if consumed too frequently.

Can Cause Migraines

Lemon juice is high in tyramine. If you are sensitive to tyramine, drinking lemon juice can trigger migraine headaches.

Show Sources


Britannica: “Lemon.”

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon: “Juice, Lemon.”

Food Science and Nutrition: “Phytochemical, antimicrobial, and antioxidant activities of different citrus juice concentrates.”

Frontiers in Pharmacology: “Anticancer Potential of Citrus Juices and Their Extracts: A Systematic Review of Both Preclinical and Clinical Studies.”

Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry: “Vitamin C in Disease Prevention and Cure: An Overview.”

Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism: “Effect on Blood Pressure of Daily Lemon Ingestion and Walking.”

Oncotarget: “Citrus limon-derived nanovesicles inhibit cancer cell proliferation and suppress CML xenograft growth by inducing TRAIL-mediated cell death.”

Purdue University College of Agriculture: “Lemon.”

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