What are the benefits of lemon water?

Lemon water is touted as a magical health drink, but what makes it so much better than regular water?
By Keri Glassman, R.D.

A lot of celebrities claim to start their day with lemon water and tout its benefits as if it is a magic elixir, but are there actually benefits to drinking lemon water?

As a nutritionist, I always stress that drinking water is something we all know we need to do for our health.

While drinking lemon water is something many of us have heard we should do if we want to do even more for our health. Most people, however, aren’t really sure why. Why lemon water? Is it actually healthier than plain old water?

Here's the simple truth: Lemon water does have its health benefits, but they may not be what you’d expect.

Flavored water might help you drink more water.

Lemon water (or can we just say water with lemon?) first and foremost, helps people drink more water. It adds a little flavor to water which can help people to actually drink up more by making plain old water appealing.

Drinking adequate water and staying hydrated in general has many benefits including maintaining energy, aiding in glowing skin and helping with weight management. Remember, your body is about 60% water. Yes, this means your skin, muscles and brain are mostly water, making proper hydration key to a healthy body.

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Lemons have many of their own nutritional benefits.

Lemon acts as an antioxidant in the body and helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Lemon peels which contain citrus flavonoids play a role in the treatment of insulin resistance, and can help prevent clogged arteries. Lemons are also high in vitamin C and research shows that eating fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke.

This high concentration of vitamin C also helps absorb iron. Non-heme iron found in plants is better absorbed with vitamin C. So, especially for non-meat eaters, consuming adequate vitamin C is important to maintain iron levels and prevent anemia.

Polyphenols in lemons may help with weight loss.

It has been found that supplementation with lemon polyphenols and pectins suppressed weight gain and body fat accumulation through increased fat metabolism, while also increasing HDL cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol), decreasing LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) and decreasing inflammation. This is by no means a magic bullet for weight loss, but filling up on water is a healthy habit to adopt.

Lemon certainly can put a feather in its cap when you add up all of the lemon, lemon peel and lemon juice benefits, but more isn’t always better. I recommend reaching that recommended 64 ounces of water a day (some people may need more or less, depending upon lifestyle and environment) for most people. But not all of that needs to be lemon water. Overdoing lemon water can lead to teeth enamel erosion and may increase acid reflux symptoms.