Using Lemons as a Folk Remedy for Diabetes

Beautiful mature woman preparing lemon juice at home
Dean Mitchell / Getty Images

Lemons have a long history as a folk remedy for type 2 diabetes. But is there any truth to the claim that lemon has curative properties?

Lemons have definite benefits for people with diabetes but are not a cure-all.

Nutrition of Lemons

Lemons have as much vitamin C as an orange. For that reason, they and other citrus fruits were taken on long sea voyages to help prevent scurvy, which is a disease that results from a vitamin C deficiency. Lemons also have a third the amount of sugar as oranges, although both citrus fruits have the same amounts of carbohydrates.

Lemons and Diabetes

The American Diabetes Association includes lemons on their list of superfoods due to soluble fiber and the high amount of vitamin C. Both soluble fiber and vitamin C can benefit people with diabetes. Lemons also have a low glycemic index, and some studies show that lemon may lower the glycemic index of other foods.

When it comes to research on the benefit of eating lemon for diabetes, there is very little to back it up. A 2015 meta-analysis in Primary Care Diabetes found that eating citrus fruits did not seem to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Citrus fruits do contain flavonoids, naringin, and naringenin, that have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant effects, according to a 2014 study in Advances in Nutrition. However, there is still not a whole lot of research into these compounds and their use in treating diabetes.

Fiber and Vitamin C

There are two components in lemons that are definite benefits if you have diabetes: soluble fiber and vitamin C.

High-fiber diets have been shown to reduce blood sugar. Soluble fiber can also help lower heart disease risk by helping to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and help with weight loss.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that reduces free radical damage in the body. Free radicals damage cells and membranes in the body. Many people with diabetes have low levels of vitamin C. Because vitamin C helps with the production of collagen, it helps maintain the integrity of the walls of the arteries and can be helpful to people who have circulation problems and arterial damage. 

Some studies have shown that vitamin C may help decrease levels of fasting blood sugar, triglyceride, cholesterol, and inflammation. It may even improve insulin resistance. Keep in mind too much vitamin C, especially from supplements, may be harmful.

Food for Thought

If you have diabetes, and you think you might want to go on a lemon diet, consult your doctor first. There are a few tips and considerations you should additionally think about.

Tips and Considerations

  • Ask for expert advice on how to incorporate lemon in your diet and how much is ok. You do not need to drink high amounts of lemon juice to gain benefits.
  • Due to its acidity, lemon can aggravate or cause heartburn in those with a history of acid reflux and heartburn.
  • Lemon juice can erode tooth enamel and increase tooth sensitivity due to its acidity. If you have sensitive teeth, consider drinking lemon juice in beverages through a straw and rinsing your mouth afterward.
  • Lemon peel contains a high amount of oxalates. Consuming a high amount of oxalates can cause problems such as kidney stones and pain from inflammation in those at risk for or prone to these conditions.
  • Lemon can act as a diuretic. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Squeeze lemon on greens and use along with extra-virgin olive oil as a simple dressing or try the following dressing: Lemony diabetes salad dressing recipe.
Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Superfoods.

  2. Jia X, Zhong L, Song Y, Hu Y, Wang G, Sun S. Consumption of citrus and cruciferous vegetables with incident type 2 diabetes mellitus based on a meta-analysis of prospective study. Prim Care Diabetes. 2016;10(4):272-80. doi:10.1016/j.pcd.2015.12.004

  3. Alam MA, Subhan N, Rahman MM, Uddin SJ, Reza HM, Sarker SD. Effect of citrus flavonoids, naringin and naringenin, on metabolic syndrome and their mechanisms of action. Adv Nutr. 2014;5(4):404-17. doi:10.3945/an.113.005603

  4. Ellulu MS, Rahmat A, Patimah I, Khaza'ai H, Abed Y. Effect of vitamin C on inflammation and metabolic markers in hypertensive and/or diabetic obese adults: a randomized controlled trial. Drug Des Devel Ther. 2015;9:3405-12. doi:10.2147/DDDT.S83144

  5. National Kidney Foundation. Calcium Oxalate Stones. Reviewed March 2019.

Additional Reading