The Trendy Fruit You Should Be Eating

benefits of lemons
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Consider 2014 the year of the lemon. At least, that's one of the predictions of the Sterling-Rice Group, which named the yellow citrus fruit an "it" item in its annual food-trend report  last month. Get ready to see lemons making an appearance in trendy restaurants, bakery windows, and supermarket shelves (think lemon-flavored yogurts and preserves).

As nutritionists, we couldn't be more thrilled with the humble lemon's renaissance of sorts. Besides adding a big burst of flavor to all your favorite dishes, the tart fruit can also keep you trim and healthy. Here's why and how to make the lemon your main citrus squeeze:

Why it rocks:

It’s a great sub for salt. Acidity, like saltiness, leads to increased salivation, so lemons literally make food mouth-watering. Plus, their antioxidants battle the inflammatory processes related to chronic disease, including heart disease. Salt can do the opposite by raising blood pressure.

It adds big flavor with little to no calories. The lemon's powerful taste cuts the need for fatty flavor-enhancers like butter and sauces, so you'll save significant calories—a major selling point if you're trying to lose weight.

It keeps you well. Lemons are high in vitamin C, which enhances the absorption of iron from foods like spinach and meat, wards off colds and flus by keeping your immune system strong, and has also been shown to boost serotonin (your body’s feel-good hormone), thereby enhancing your mood. Lemons also contain unique flavonoid compounds that have antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.

How to eat it:

1. Squeeze it into soups and drinks—like hot tea.

2. Toss lemon juice with salads, veggies, and pasta.

3. Use it as a salt substitute in your favorite recipes.

4. Rub it onto chicken, fish, or turkey, or use it as a marinade to tenderize and reduce carcinogens created during grilling.

5. Add it to tomato sauce for a more complex flavor.

6. Squeeze it into ice water or seltzer, or into your ice cube trays to add flavor to other drinks like iced tea.

7. Top desserts with lemon zest.

8. Whisk it with a little olive oil, garlic, and a few of your favorite spices for a salad dressing.

9. Add it to your smoothies and green juices for a nice flavor kick.

10. Make gremolata, the Italian condiment that’s a great stand-in for salt and pepper.  Simply combine equal parts lemon zest, parsley, and garlic, and you'll have a topping that can be sprinkled on just about anything. (If you like less garlic flavor, simply add several drops of olive oil).

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