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Summer Lovin’–The Wonders of Lemonade

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It’s that time again folks. The height of summer is in full effect, and the heat can often get the better of us as we bask in the glory of solar radiation. Tasty, cooling drinks always go a long way, and one of the best at quenching the voracious thirst of summer days is Lemonade!

It’s consumed around the world, but have you ever wondered why someone thought to take something so tart and make a drink out of it? Once you examine lemons more closely, it’s no wonder why Lemonade has become the eternal drink of summer.

Lemons are grown in tropical climates and are members of the citrus family. They are a rich source of vitamin C, and are little nutritional powerhouses packed with antioxidants known as citrus bioflavonoids. The most commonly known bioflavonoid is quercetin, but there are also two others: rutin and hesperidin. Bioflavonoids are mostly found in the bitter white skin of citrus fruits, and are responsible for anti-carcinogenic activity. A study conducted earlier this year demonstrated that hesperidin showed chemo protective activity in the liver. Further, lemons are packed with minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium, i.e. electrolytes. Their high limonene content also accounts for their anti-pathogenic properties, and is what gives citrus its beautiful fragrance. Limonene is one of the main constituents of citrus essential oils; it’s commonly used as a non-toxic preservative, and is one of the few things that can dissolve Styrofoam!

It has been recognized that lemons can “quench” thirst so effectively, that explorers of antiquity supposedly travelled with them as they excavated new lands. This was to ensure they were sufficiently hydrated when water was sparse, and to evade scurvy. If this is accurate, it makes sense, because electrolytes lost through sweat could quickly be replenished by sucking on a lemon. It’s been cited that fruits high in natural tannins are known as thirst quenchers, because they are astringent. This particular taste sensation causes us to “pucker” our mouths which stimulates the mucus membranes; in turn quenching thirst. Pretty neat, right?

Lastly, lemons have been used to stimulate digestion, and support gentle detoxification in many cultures. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it’s common to drink warm lemon water upon rising because it stimulates “liver chi”; thus, activating gastric juices and bile flow. Now let’s get cracking and make some Lemonade!

Here is a simple way to start every morning.

Rise and Shine Lemonade:

Juice from half a lemon 

1 cup of warm water 

If your tummy can handle it, you can kick your metabolism into gear with spice! This is useful if you work out first thing.

Kick Start Lemonade:

Juice from half a lemon 

1/2-1tsp of maple syrup 

1/4 tsp of sea, grey or pink salt 

Pinch of cayenne pepper (or up to 1/8 tsp if tolerated)

1 cup of warm water

**Avoid increasing the salt as it may over stimulate the adrenals.

Berries are an excellent addition to Lemonade, add extra fibre, natural sweetness, and more antioxidants. I love Blueberry Lemonade.

Very Berry Lemonade:

1/4 cup of lemon juice 

1 cup water 

1/4 cup of a berry of your choice (blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, etc.)

1tbsp sweetener (maple syrup, raw cane sugar, honey or blue agave nectar)

*1/4-1/2 tsp of stevia can be used depending on the brand.

Blend, add ice and enjoy.

Want something sweeter, with no sweetener? Try Watermelon Lemonade. It’s my absolute favorite!

Watermelon Lemonade:

1/4 cup of lemon juice 

1 cup of watermelon chunks 

1 cup of water

Blend, et voila. 

For super nutrition, keep the seeds and blend on a high speed.

Want to take refreshment to the next level? Try fresh basil. Not only will your taste buds be dazzled, your Lemonade will become anti-inflammatory due to basil’s high volatile oil content.

Sup-herb Lemonade:

1/4 cup of lemon juice 

1 cup of water

1tbsp fresh minced basil 

1tbsp of sweetener (maple syrup, raw cane sugar, honey

or blue agave nectar)

Blend and serve.

 

If you really want the full benefits from lemons, every part of the lemon should be used. This is easier said than done though. If you’re brave, you can cut some of the peel, with the white skin and blend it into to your Lemonade. Keeping the pulp with some seeds is even better and can be blended on high.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

Try to buy lemons with thin skin, because they have more juice and are more economical. Always roll them out on a hard, flat surface before squeezing. This is especially useful when the lemons have thick skin. If dealing with fresh lemons is too much, then an organic concentrate can be used. I buy the Santa Cruz’s variety. This will have a slight decrease in overall nutritional content, but is still a very effective option. Avoid all conventional concentrates, seeing they have chemical preservatives, etc.

It’s always best to buy organic when possible. Because lemons are lower on the spray list, conventional is an option. However, they are coated in wax and may have traces of allergens; so clean them well before use. You can soak them in hot water with apple cider vinegar for approximately 5 minutes to remove excess residue. Towel dry them as if you’re polishing something, to ensure the residue is fully removed.

If you’re concerned about tooth enamel, you can rinse your mouth out with baking soda post lemonade, or use a straw. Stainless steel and glass straws are available for purchase online, or at a participating retailer.

The above recipes are practical guidelines for various Lemonade concoctions. Needed adjustments to almost all ingredients can be made if necessary.

 

Fernández-Bedmar Z., Anter J., Alonso-Moraga A., Martίn de las Mulas J., Millán-Ruiz Y., Guil-Luna S. Demethylating and anti-hepatocarcinogenic potential of hesperidin, a natural polyphenol of Citrus juices. Molecular Carcinogenesis. 2016; 56(6): 1653-1662.

 

 

 

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