This week, we're back to our ongoing series called: Ancient Ingredients, Modern Superpowers and we'll be diving into an everyday fruit that doubles as a major Greek superfood: Lemons. Read on to discover the extraordinary powers of the superfoods of Greece & the Mediterranean for health, happiness and longevity.
Where do Lemons come from? Did you know that wild citrus trees, the parents of our modern-day lemons, trace back to the late Miocene Era, which means they've been around for nearly 8 million years. Yes, you read that correctly! Historians say that lemons, as we know them today, have been around for 4 million years, and originally came from the foothills of the Himalayas - but quickly spread to the Mediterranean where they became prized fruits.
What makes Lemons so special? Lemons are the most prevalent ingredient in all Greek cooking, and have been important to Greek culture dating all the way back to 5BC when it was used to develop "invisible" ink to communicate with the Persians. Ancient Greeks found lemons to be the perfect complement to Greek olive oil - soon replacing sour grapes and tart pomegranates with it in their cooking. Since ancient times, lemons were not only used in the culinary arts, but also in medicinal practices.
What are the health benefits? Since ancient times, Greek doctors have known the benefits of lemons. They often recommended applying lemon balm to injuries to reduce infection, and even adding lemon peels to wine to "calm a person's nerves." Fast forward to the modern-day, we know that lemons are packed with Vitamin C, soluble fiber, and other important plant compounds that are invaluable to our health. For example, 1 lemon holds over 50% of our daily intake of Vitamin C - which is scientifically proven to reduce your risk of heart disease or strokes. It also contains other compounds that have anticancer properties.
How can I use it in my every day? Lemons are some of the most versatile ingredients, and are used in nearly every Greek dish - from lunch to desserts. Like our ancient ancestors, the most simple way to combine culinary arts and health benefits is combining EVOO and lemons right at the source (our Greek Herb & Lemon EVOO does just that!). Also, one of my favorite simple sauces that reminds me of childhood is Ladolemono, and can be used as anything from salad dressing to a marinade for seafood or veggies. There are some delicious desserts that call for lemons as well - here's one of my favorites!
How do you use this ancient superfood in modern ways? Are there other Mediterranean superfoods you'd like us to cover? Respond to this note or tag us on Instagram @kosterina with your thoughts!
Peace, love & EVOO, Katerina
Olive Oil Sommelier, Katerina Mountanos, is the Founder & CEO of Kosterina. Katerina is very passionate about olive oil, the Mediterranean lifestyle and eating for health and longevity.
Over recent years, research has come to show that many aspects of our long-term health are lifestyle-driven - rather than dictated fully by our genetics. This new-but-growing field of epigenetics is fascinating, and empowering for us all, because it proves that we really are what we eat.