The Power of Pucker
Heal cuts and bruises.
Prevent cancer and heart disease.
You may love the tartness of lemons and limes, but I'd be willing to bet that you've never taken a big 'ole bite from the whole fruit.
Back in the nineteenth century however, people literally craved them, not for the tart blast but for the remarkable health benefits these colorful fruits offered.
British sailors, for example, who typically spent months at sea without fresh super fruits or vegetables, would quaff lime juice to prevent scurvy, a terrible disease caused by vitamin-C deficiency.
(It was because of the British Navy's dependence on limes that they became known as limeys.)
And in California during the Gold Rush, when fresh fruits were equally scarce, miners paid top dollar for lemons.
A Good Source of "C"
Of all the nutrients we're most familiar with, vitamin-C is perhaps the most impressive.
During cold season it's always in hot demand, since it lowers levels of histamine, a naturally occurring chemical that can cause red eyes and runny noses.
Vitamin-C is also a powerful antioxidant, meaning that it helps disarm powerful oxygen molecules in the body that contribute to cancer and heart disease.
The body also uses vitamin-C to manufacture collagen, the stuff that glues cells together and is needed to help heal cuts and wounds.
The pulp and juice from lemons and limes are rich sources of vitamin-C.
A large lemon, for example, contains about 45 milligrams of vitamin-C, 75 percent of the Daily Value (DV).
Limes are also good, with a small lime containing about 20 milligrams, 33 percent of the DV.
In the Kitchen
If you've ever used a grater to remove citrus zest, you've probably also experienced the pain of grated knuckles.
We've found a much easier way to remove citrus zest is to use a zester.
This inexpensive kitchen gadget looks a bit like a bottle opener.
The business end contains a strip of stainless steel lined with sharp-edged holes.
As you pull the zester across the peel, it removes a thin, curly strip of zest that piles up nicely, without a single zinged knuckle.
In Your Quest for Zest
There's more to lemons and limes than just vitamin-C.
These citrus fruits also contain additional compounds such as limonin and limonene, which appear to help block some of the cellular changes that can lead to cancer.
Limonene, which is found mainly in the colorful skin, or zest, of the fruit, has been shown to increase the activity of proteins that help eliminate estradiol, a naturally occurring hormone that has been linked with breast cancer.
Limonene has also been shown to increase the level of enzymes in the liver that can remove cancer-causing chemicals.
In Europe, food companies add citrus zest to baking flour to provide added health benefits.
In America, we throwaway what may be the best part of the fruits.
Food Alert! Citrus Sunburn
People who handle large amounts of citrus fruits may find themselves at risk for a curious condition that could be called lime (not Lyme) disease.
Lemons and limes contain furocoumarins, compounds that sensitize the skin and make it susceptible to sunburn.
In one case, described in the New England Journal of Medicine, a man's left hand blistered and swelled after he squeezed about 60 limes to make margaritas.
The researchers called this painful condition margarita photodermatitis.
Anytime you're squeezing or zesting large numbers of lemons and limes, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly to remove the oils, and also apply a strong sunscreen before going outdoors.
Gettinq the Most
Zest up your flavors.
Whether you're making a lemon meringue pie or simply adding flavor to store-bought lemon yogurt, be sure to add plenty of zest.
The healing compound limonene makes up about 65 percent of oils in the peel.
Use it dried.
While fresh citrus peel contains the most healing compounds, dried lemon peel isn't bad.
You'll find dried lemon peel in the spice rack at the supermarket .
And here's a yummy recipe everyone will rave about.
Lemon Dessert Sauce
1/2 c. sugar
1 Tbs. cornstarch
1 Tbs. grated lemon rind
1/3 c. fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. fat-free egg substitute
2 tsp. unsalted butter
In a small saucepan, mix the sugar, cornstarch, and lemon rind: Whisk in the lemon juice until smooth.
Cook over low heat for 5 to 6 minutes, whisking frequently, until the sauce is hot and slightly thickened.
Place the egg substitute in a small bowl.
Add 2 tablespoons of the sauce and whisk to mix and warm the egg substitute.
Add to the saucepan.
Cook over low heat, whisking, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.
Remove from the heat and stir in the butter.
Set aside to cool.
Makes about 1 cup
Cook's Note: Serve the sauce over fruit, nonfat frozen yogurt, gingerbread, angel food cake, or other cakes.
Per 3 Tbs.
Total Fat 1.3 g.
Saturated Fat 0.8 g.
Cholesterol 3.5 mg.
Sodium 4 mg.
Dietary Fiber 0.2 g.Tweet
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