Lemons are oval in shape and feature a yellow, texturized outer peel. Like other citrus fruits, their inner flesh is encased in eight to ten segments. While most lemons are tart, acidic and astringent, they are also surprisingly refreshing. While rarely consumed on their own, lemons make a major contribution to the flavors of many foods we eat. Although you wouldn't choose this tart citrus fruit for a snack, you might well squeeze some lemon juice over a fish fillet, add a wedge of lemon to your tea, or grate some flavorful lemon zest into your favorite cookie dough. It wasn't until vitamin C was discovered in 1932 that scientists understood that it was this vitamin, not the fresh fruit itself, that protected against the disease.

Aside from supplying substantial amounts of vitamin C, the main benefits of lemons relate to their seasoning potential. By adding tart fresh lemon juice and lemon zest to recipes can reduce the amount of salt needed to enhance the flavors in rice, potatoes, salads, and cooked vegetables--while adding no fat and negligible calories.