Global Food Myths #1: Do lemons deliver more vitamin C than other fruits?

LSG Group experts clarify food myths from around the world – Episode 1 is about lemons and their vitamin C content

A “hot lemon” is the number one household remedy for colds in Germany. In many parts of the world people believe: The high vitamin C content strengthens the immune system. But do lemons really provide as much ascorbic acid as grandma has always promised? Bernadette Murg is a dietician at LSG Group. She explains the myth.

“The answer is yes and no,” says Murg. Lemons contain about 53 mg vitamin C per 100 g of juice. “This is more than apples, honeydew melons, raspberries or mangoes provide. It is comparable to other fruits of the citrus family such as oranges or clementines. However, acerola cherries, rose hips, sea buckthorn, black currants, papayas, guavas, sweet peppers, broccoli and Brussels sprouts deliver more”.

The acerola cherry produces 1,700 mg vitamin C per 100 g. At 177 mg per 100 g, the content of a black currant is also more than three times as high as that of a lemon. A daily intake of 110 mg for men and 95 mg for women is recommended, which is about the equivalent of a glass of pure lemon juice – a quantity that hardly anyone consumes in this form.

Tastier: A handful of strawberries and an orange or a normal portion of vegetables consisting of broccoli, fennel and half a pepper are sufficient to cover the vitamin C requirement. For smokers, pregnant women and breastfeeding women, higher recommendations apply. In addition to vitamin C, lemons also contain other important nutrients: fructose, fibre, potassium, calcium, magnesium and copper, as well as vitamins B1, B2, B6, folate and pantothenic acid.

A persistent lack of vitamin C can lead to scurvy in adults. It used to be a common cause of death among seafarers who were unable to obtain fruit and vegetables at sea. Today, undersupply manifests itself in susceptibility to infections, a feeling of exhaustion, fatigue, poor wound healing and bleeding gums.

The “Global Food Myths” is an ongoing series. We will drill down on a specific urban legend about food, drinks or table culture every Friday. Stay tuned for more!

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