For a little over a month now, I’ve been starting my day off with lemon water. One glass of lukewarm water plus the juice from half a lemon. It gives me an energy boost in the morning that lasts throughout the day (I no longer need my afternoon cup of coffee), and I’ve actually grown to enjoy the taste of it. It also gives me a great mental boost knowing that I’m starting every day doing something so healthy for myself. (Read more about Why You Should Start Your Day With Lemon Water).
But after a couple of weeks, I found the act of squeezing half a lemon into a cup in the wee hours of every single morning to be too hard to handle. So, I started using the bottled stuff. I bought pure, organic juice squeezed from actual lemons (not from concentrate) that came in a glass bottle. One tablespoon gave me the same amount of juice as half a lemon. Pouring a tablespoon of bottled lemon juice (by my third day, I just eyeballed it) into my glass of warm water took less time and effort than squeezing half a lemon.
Turns out, I was doing my body a disservice by switching to the bottle. You just don’t get the same degree of benefits from bottled lemon juice as you do from fresh lemons, especially fresh organic lemons.
The most important benefits of lemons come from their enzymatic properties. Fresh-squeezed lemon juice is similar in structure to the stomach’s digestive juices which is why it’s so good in aiding digestion and for helping the body maximize the nutrients from the food we eat. When lemons are processed, packaged, and stored for any length of time, the enzymatic properties are significantly diminished. In fact, the enzymes may not be active at all in bottled lemon juice.
What’s more, bottled lemon juice may have additives that extend its shelf life. Fresh squeezed lemon juice can be stored in a tightly-covered container in the fridge for 2-3 days before losing its flavor. Bottled lemon juices are expected to last much longer than that. I bought the bottle that’s in my fridge about 3 weeks ago. The label says it’s best used before February 16, 2016. That’s 6 months from this writing! I’m no scientist, but if you can make a juice that should be good for 3 days last over 180 days, it’s probably getting its staying power from preservatives, even if the label doesn’t claim it. You have to wonder, what kind of nutrition are you getting from a lemon that’s likely been squeezed and packaged for sale months prior and then potentially sit in your fridge for another 6 months or so?
Of course, if you’re out of fresh lemons or are just not in a squeezing mood, bottled lemon juice (the 100% pure, organic juice in a glass bottle) can do in a pinch so it’s not a bad idea to keep a bottle in the fridge. It’s still much healthier than the frappuccinos and cafe mochas I used to start my day with. And drinking lemon water beats drinking soda every time, whether you’re pouring or squeezing the juice in. But from a health standpoint, the benefits of fresh squeezed lemons are totally worth the time and effort.
So I switched back to squeezing my lemons, but now I do a whole batch at one time. Instead of cutting and squeezing half a lemon every morning, I do all the cutting and squeezing one day a week. I just squeeze the lemons into ice trays (half a lemon per cube) and freeze the juice! Fresh-squeezed, frozen lemon juice will keep for several months. Each morning, I just grab a cube and drop it in warm water. Quick and easy!
Do you start your day with warm lemon water? Have you noticed any positive health effects?