We all love a refreshing glass of lemonade, especially on a hot summer’s day when all we need is an ice-cold beverage to cool us down! But is lemonade good for you?
That depends on the lemonade because not all lemonades are the same! While lemons are an unbeatable source of vitamins (especially Vitamin C,) too much sugar in the recipe can quickly cancel out the lemonade's health benefits.
In this article, we asked our lemonade loving experts about the positives and the negatives of drinking lemonade. Keep reading to discover more about everyone’s favorite lemon drink!
What is lemonade?
Before we look at the health implications of drinking lemonade, let’s define what lemonade is, other than a deliciously refreshing summer beverage!
There are many different lemonade recipes, and each recipe contains its own positives and negatives in terms of health and its own taste and composition.
In the US, lemonade comes in the form of a homemade summer drink prepared by mixing lemon juice with water and sugar. Sugar cane is often used, but there are a variety of other sweeteners that work, too. This type of homemade lemonade, or lemon juice, is typically cloudy in nature.
Outside of the US, lemonade takes on the characteristics of a fizzy, carbonated drink. Sodas like sprite or 7-UP are a type of lemonade in many parts of the world (although technically, they are lemon and lime drinks.)
Lemonades, or lemon juices, can also be prepared from concentrated lemon solutions.
Lemonade nutritional information
As you can imagine, different types of lemonade will have a wide variety of nutritional values and health benefits. Ultimately, though, when looking at healthy vs. unhealthy lemonade, the sugar content is the key component to be aware of when looking at lemonade calories.
Traditional homemade lemonade is likely to contain 4 tablespoons of sugar for every cup. The vast majority of the drink is water, with around 10-20 percent of the remainder being lemon juice.
In this case, the average nutritional values for one cup of homemade lemonade would look like the following:
- 120 calories
- 30g of sugars
- 30g of carbohydrates
In comparison, a can of 7-UP from the store contains 140 calories and almost 40 grams of carbohydrates and sugars.
Health benefits of refreshing lemonade
Regardless of your lemonade's exact recipe and sugar content, there are many universal health benefits that you can gain from drinking lemonade from lemon juice.
Let’s take a look at the lemon benefits first.
Excellent source of vitamin C
There’s a lot of Vitamin C in lemon juice and lemonade, and it’s this fact that gives us the essential lemon health benefits. A single cup of lemonade has enough Vitamin C to cover your daily requirement.
Our bodies need a regular intake of Vitamin C to function effectively (in extreme cases, a lack of Vitamin C leads to scurvy, which is deadly.) Vitamin C keeps our body’s cells healthy and allows them to do their job and replicate as needed.
Because lemonade is full of vitamin C, we often get asked, “is lemonade a diuretic?” And in fact, it could be!
Vitamin C properties could help reduce fluid retention.
Lemonade is hydrating
There’s a reason we drink lemonade on a hot summer’s day, and that’s because it’s not only deliciously cool and refreshing, but it’s wonderfully hydrating.
Our bodies have to stay hydrated to function, and lemonade provides a great way to keep our bodies topped up with the liquids we need while also satisfying our taste buds.
Lemonade is a source of energy
While there is always talk of too much sugar, we can use sugars in moderation as a source of energy.
Lemonade can provide these sugars, of course, which our body can use as fuel to meet its daily needs. Lemonade is a great way to stay energized and to keep your blood sugar levels within an acceptable range, especially if you’ve been active.
Lemonade boosts the immune system
Lemonade is a great boost to the immune system, too. Not only does it provide us with our daily source of Vitamin C, but the benefits of lemonade are also seen in its antioxidizing qualities.
Lemons provide antioxidants, keeping us healthy and able to battle sickness. As a bonus, antioxidants also help keep our skin fresh!
Drawbacks of drinking too much lemonade
So what is lemonade good for? A lot of things, clearly, but every good thing has its darker side, too. As with any sugary drink, lemonade has negative health implications. But the reality is these will only start to adversely affect your health when you overdo it on the lemonade. Too much of a good thing is never good!
Let’s take a look at the effects of drinking too much sugary lemonade.
Excess sugar can cause tooth decay
With lots of sugar in your average cup of lemonade, excess consumption can be a problem for your teeth.
Too much sugar causes the protective enamel on the outside of your teeth to breakdown and decay. Over time, this leaves your teeth unprotected and ultimately more susceptible to pain and disease.
Lemonade raises blood sugar levels
Too much of that sugar also causes a problem for your body, as well as your teeth. While we need sugars for energy, too much sugar can lead to a rise in blood sugar levels.
Over time, this can cause raised blood pressure and chronic illnesses such as adult-onset diabetes. These conditions are dangerous if left untreated and can lead to heart disease and other serious illnesses in later years.
Excess sugars also cause us to put on weight, particularly when combined with a sedentary lifestyle.
Lemonade is acidic
Is lemonade acidic? Yes, lemonade is also incredibly acidic, and this can cause a problem for people with a predisposition towards acid reflux or other gastrointestinal issues.
Acidity can cause uncomfortable problems such as heartburn or indigestion as our stomach acid levels increase.
In extreme conditions, acidity can contribute to the formation of stomach ulcers, too.
How do you make homemade lemonade healthier?
We’re often asked, is lemonade better than soda? The answer is yes, homemade lemonade is healthier than carbonated lemonade, but only if you cut down on the sugar.
Unsweetened lemonade is always the best way forward, allowing you to keep the hydrating properties, vitamin C, and antioxidants but cut down on the drawbacks, primarily caused by excess sugars.
And beyond, the nutritious aspect of lemonade… It's a way more sustainable choice than soda in cans!
(BUT! If you're drinking sodas make sure you’re smashing your soda cans with a can crusher.
A can crusher will save space in your trash can and is a great way to recycle cans! Plus, it means you will need to take fewer trips to the recycling center. We only have one planet so we need to do the best we can to take care of it. One planet. One body.) Our recommended can crusher is also available in Canada.
Our final take on nutritious lemonade
Lemonade is undoubtedly an excellent source of vitamins, particularly the all-important Vitamin C, which our bodies need to function (nobody wants scurvy!) There is also a wide range of lemonade health benefits, including hydration, re-energization, and immune system boosts.
We can’t forget how invigorating a cup of fresh, ice-cold lemonade is on a hot summer day!
But if your lemonade is too sugary, it can be detrimental to your health. Too much sugary lemonade could lead to weight gain, potential chronic diseases, and poor dental health.’
In moderation, though, the benefits of a healthy homemade lemonade that’s low in sugars are going to outweigh the negatives.
Why not save our guide to lemonade nutrition for next summer?