Lemons and Diabetes: Should They Be Included in Your Diet?
Lemons are rich in nutrients, including:
- vitamin A
- vitamin C
One raw lemon without the peel contains around:
- 29 calories
- 9 grams of carbohydrates
- 2.8 grams of dietary fiber
- 0.3 grams of fat
- 1.1 grams of protein
Despite these benefits, some foods still need to be eaten cautiously if you have diabetes. Are lemons one of them? Read on to learn how lemons can affect those living with diabetes and things to keep in mind.
Can people with diabetes eat lemons?
Yes, you can eat lemons if you have diabetes. In fact, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) lists lemons as a diabetes superfood.
Oranges are also on the ADA superfood list. Although lemons and oranges have about the same amount of carbs, lemons have less sugar.
Glycemic index and lemons
Glycemic index (GI) is an indication of how a food affects blood sugar levels. It’s measured on a scale from 0 to 100, with 100 being pure glucose. The higher the GI in a food, the larger the blood sugar spike.
Lemon juice, when consumed along with a food with a high GI, can slow the conversion of starch to sugar, thus lowering the food’s GI.
Citrus fruit fiber and blood sugar
Although easier to do with grapefruit and oranges than lemons and limes, it’s better to eat the whole fruit as opposed to just drinking the juice.
When you eat the fruit, you get the benefits of the fruit’s fiber. Soluble fiber can slow the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream, which can help stabilize blood sugar.
Citrus and obesity
According to a 2013 study, the bioactive components of citrus fruits could contribute to the prevention and treatment of obesity.
People with obesity are more likely to develop diabetes because there’s added pressure on the body’s ability to properly use insulin to control blood sugar.
Vitamin C and diabetes
Although more research is needed, evidence suggests that vitamin C might have a positive impact on diabetes. Here’s what the research says:
- A small 2007 study found that taking 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C for six weeks may help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes complications by decreasing blood sugar and lipid levels.
- A 2014 study found that the need for vitamin C supplementation may be greater in people with diabetes.
- A 2016 study suggested that dietary vitamin C intake can play a protective role in the development of type 2 diabetes.
Side effects of lemons
Although lemons have many health benefits, there are some things to keep in mind:
- Lemon juice is acidic and can erode tooth enamel.
- Lemon can trigger heartburn.
- Lemon is a natural diuretic.
- Lemon peel contains oxalates, which in excess can lead to calcium oxalate kidney stones.
If you’re experiencing any mild negative side effects, limit or avoid your consumption of lemons and lemon juice. See your doctor for any severe side effects, like kidney stones.
With high amounts of vitamin C and soluble fiber, plus a low GI, lemons can have a place in your diet, whether you have diabetes or not.
If you have diabetes and are considering increasing your intake of lemon, talk to your doctor or dietician to make sure it’s a good decision for your current condition.