Photo by Nicole Fara Silver

They’re the main ingredient in lemonade, but lemons are good for so much more than a refreshing, front porch staple — they’re packed with health-boosting vitamin C and antioxidants known as flavonoids. The C contributes to collagen synthesis in the body and may help prevent you from catching a cold. Plus the rest of those flavonoids contribute to fighting off damaging free radicals in the body, which could decrease the risk of heart disease, reduce inflammation, and help fight some cancers.

Wondering what else there is to do with lemons? Add to seltzer water instead ofdrinking soda, or substitute for the sugar in a cocktail. Use it to flavor foods with iron, like leafy greens to help the body better absorb the greens’ iron. Just try to stick to fresh, whole lemons, as pre-squeezed juice can rapidly lose its vitamin C.

The Takeaway: Integrate whole, fresh lemons into your diet for better-tasting foods and health bonuses like a lessened chance of catching a cold and even a potentially decreased risk of cancer.

Practically Perfect

Not a chef? Lemons have practical purposes, too, like repelling insects and lightening hair (no salon required).

Fun Fact

To get all the juice out of a fresh lemon, roll it firmly against the counter before cutting into it. Still feeling firm? Microwave it for 20 seconds before squeezing. The average lemon should yield 2 to 3 tablespoons of juice.