what can i do with lemon peels

Last Updated on January 17, 2023

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what can i do with leftover lemon peels.

Lemon (Citrus limon) is a common citrus fruit, alongside grapefruits, limes, and oranges (1).

While the pulp and juice are used the most, the peel tends to be discarded.

However, studies have determined that lemon peel is full of bioactive compounds that may provide numerous health benefits.

Here are 9 potential benefits and uses of lemon peel.

1. High nutritional value

Despite being eaten in small amounts, lemon peels are very nutritious. One tablespoon (6 grams) provides (2Trusted Source):

  • Calories:
    3
  • Carbs: 1 gram
  • Fiber: 1 gram
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Vitamin C: 9% of the Daily Value (DV)

Lemon peel packs a high amount of fiber and vitamin C, providing 9% of the DV in only 1 tablespoon (6 grams) (3Trusted Source).

Additionally, it boasts small amounts of calcium, potassium, and magnesium.

D-limonene, a compound that gives lemon its characteristic aroma, is also found in the peel and may be responsible for many of this fruit’s health benefits.

Summary Lemon peel is very
low in calories while high in fiber, vitamin C, and D-limonene. It also
contains several minerals.

2. May support oral health

Dental cavities and gum infections are widespread oral diseases caused by bacteria like Streptococcus mutans (4Trusted Source).

Lemon peel contains antibacterial substances that may inhibit microorganism growth.

In one study, researchers identified four compounds in lemon peel that have powerful antibacterial properties and effectively fight common oral-disease-causing bacteria (5Trusted Source).

What’s more, a test-tube study found that lemon peel extract combats Streptococcus mutans activity, with higher doses being more effective (6Trusted Source).

Summary Lemon peel has
antibacterial properties that may block the growth of microorganisms
responsible for oral diseases.

3. High in antioxidants

Antioxidants are plant compounds that prevent cellular damage by fighting free radicals in your body (7Trusted Source).

Lemon peel is high in antioxidants, including D-limonene and vitamin C (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source).

Intake of flavonoid antioxidants like D-limonene is linked to a reduced risk of certain conditions, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes (11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).

One test-tube study determined that lemon peel had stronger antioxidant activity than grapefruit or tangerine peels (13Trusted Source).

Animal studies also show that D-limonene increases the activity of an enzyme that helps reduce oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is associated with tissue damage and accelerated aging (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).

Additionally, the vitamin C in lemon peel acts as a powerful antioxidant and likewise promotes immune health (17Trusted Source).

Summary Lemon peel offers
several antioxidants, including D-limonene and vitamin C, that protect your
immune system and reduce your risk of disease.

4. May have antimicrobial and antifungal properties

Lemon peel may have several antimicrobial and antifungal properties (18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).

Notably, in a test-tube study, this peel significantly harmed and reduced the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (20Trusted Source).

Another test-tube study showed that lemon peel extract fought a drug-resistant fungus that causes skin infections (21Trusted Source).

Despite these promising findings, human studies are needed.

Summary Lemon peel may
offer antimicrobial and antifungal effects — even against antibiotic-resistant
strains. However, more research is needed.

5. May boost your immune system

Lemon peel extract may bolster your immune system due to its flavonoid and vitamin C content (13Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).

A 15-day study that gave fish dehydrated lemon peel showed improved immune responses (23Trusted Source).

What’s more, a review of 82 studies found that 1–2 grams of vitamin C per day reduces the severity and duration of the common cold by 8% in adults and 14% in children (24Trusted Source).

Vitamin C also accumulates in phagocytes, a type of cell that ingests harmful compounds (25Trusted Source).

Summary Lemon peel contains
flavonoids and vitamin C, which may stimulate your body’s immune system to
protect your health.

6. May promote heart health

High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity are all risk factors for heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States (26).

Research suggests that compounds such as flavonoids, vitamin C, and pectin — the main fiber in lemon peel — may reduce your risk.

A review of 14 studies in 344,488 people found that an average increase of 10 mg of flavonoids per day reduced heart disease risk by 5% (27Trusted Source).

Additionally, in a study in mice with obesity, D-limonene lowered blood sugar, triglyceride, and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol (28Trusted Source).

A 4-week study in 60 children with excess weight noted that supplementing with lemon powder (containing peel) led to reductions in blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol (29Trusted Source).

The pectin in lemon peels may also reduce cholesterol levels by increasing the excretion of bile acids, which are produced by your liver and bind to cholesterol (30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source).

Summary Flavonoids, vitamin
C, and pectin in lemon peel may promote heart health by
lowering blood cholesterol levels and other risk factors for heart disease.

7. May have anticancer properties

Lemon peel may have several cancer-fighting properties.

For example, flavonoid intake is associated with a reduced risk of several types of cancer, and vitamin C may bolster the growth of white blood cells, which help eliminate mutated cancer cells (29Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source).

D-limonene may also have anticancer properties, specifically against stomach cancer (34Trusted Source).

One test-tube study found that this compound helped kill stomach cancer cells. Similarly, a 52-week study in rats noted that different concentrations of D-limonene inhibited stomach cancer by increasing the death rate of the mutated cells (35Trusted Source, 36Trusted Source).

Nevertheless, lemon peel should not be considered a treatment or cure for cancer. Human research is needed.

Summary Some compounds in lemon peel may have anticancer
potential. However, human studies are necessary to confirm these findings.

8. May treat gallstones

Some studies suggest that D-limonene may help treat gallstones — hard deposits that can develop in your gallbladder (37Trusted Source).

In a study in 200 people with gallstones, 48% of those injected with a D-limonene solvent experienced complete gallstone disappearance, suggesting that this treatment could be an effective alternative to surgery (38Trusted Source, 39Trusted Source).

All the same, follow-up research is necessary.

Summary Although more
studies are needed, the D-limonene in lemon peel may dissolve gallstones.

9. Other uses

Lemon peel likewise has many applications as a cosmetic or household item. Some of its most popular uses include:

  • All-purpose
    cleaner. 
    Fill a lidded jar with lemon peels and white vinegar and let it sit for several
    weeks. Remove the peels and mix the remaining solution with equal parts of
    water.
  • Fridge
    and trash-can deodorizer.
     Place
    a few lemon peels inside your fridge or at the bottom of your trash can to
    absorb odors.
  • Stainless-steel
    cleaner.
     Spread some salt on the item you want to
    clean and scrub any stains using lemon peels. Remember to rinse afterward.
  • Kettle
    cleaner.
     Fill your kettle with water and lemon peel
    and bring it to a boil to remove any mineral deposits. Let the water sit
    for an hour before rinsing.
  • Body
    scrub.
     Mix sugar, olive oil, and finely chopped lemon peel,
    then massage onto wet skin. Make sure to rinse well once you’re done.
  • Face mask. Mix rice flour, lemon peel
    powder, and cold milk for an exfoliating and skin-cleansing mask.

Summary Lemon peel has
various applications as a household cleaner or beauty product.

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