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Lemon: A Juicy Fruit Rich in Vitamin C for Healthy Life
Lemon or Lime (Nimboo) is a greenish or yellowish juicy berry, rich in vitamin C and commonly used as a flavoring and preservative in cooking and some therapeutic applications. It is borne on evergreen thorny bushes, shrubs or small trees. The plant produces white flowers. Lemon belongs to the Rutaceae Family and its Botanical name is Citrus limon/ Citrus medica. Other closely related fruits are Orange, Malta, Mausambi, Keenu with slightly different taste and texture.
It is found as a wild or cultivated horticultural plant all over the world which is supposed to originate from Southeast Asia (India, Burma & China) It is supposed to have originated genetically as a hybrid of sour orange and Citron in 1000 AD.
It prefers temperate and subtropical climates and is a hardy plant. It has glossy green leaves with winged petioles. Unripe green fruits turn yellowish when ripe but in some varieties remain green, Fruits are round or elliptical sometimes pointed on one side between 2-4 inches in diameter. The skin of the fruit may be thin and smooth or thick and hard. It has different varieties like Eureka, Lisbon, Villafranca, Lucknow seedless, Assam Lemon, Nepali Round and others. From each medium-sized lemon 2-3 tablespoons of juice can be squeezed. The juice contains Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B9 (Total 18%), minerals such as Calcium, Potassium, Iron, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Zinc, Selenium, Copper and about 88% Vitamin C along with carbohydrates, fats , and protein. It tastes sour and has a unique fragrance. 100gm of lemon juice when taken can provide 29 kcal of energy. Other constituents of lemons include volatile oils in the peel, flavonoids, bitter limonoids, coumarin citral, pectin, mucilage and alpha-terpinene.
SIGNIFICANT BENEFITS OF LEMON FOR HEALTH.
Lemon is credited with many benefits but the most interesting claim is its ability to kill cancer cells and its use as an alternative to chemotherapy. But all these lemon properties still need to be proven experimentally. Investigations into the chemical constituents of lemons and their relation to cancer prevention are being carried out in several laboratories. Here are some common therapeutic applications.
Helps overcome skin problems Since lemon has antibacterial and antiseptic properties it is able to rejuvenate the skin and it is rich in vitamin C to improve beauty. It acts as an anti-aging medicine and is able to remove wrinkles, dark spots and scars left by burns So it is commonly used in soaps, shampoos, cleansing lotions etc.
Helps overcome mouth and teeth problems Lemon juice when applied to the gums can stop bleeding gums and also help relieve toothache. It provides relief from bad breath.
It cures throat infections Since lemon juice has antibacterial properties, gargling with lemon water along with some salt helps in fighting throat infections and also helps in curing respiratory problems.
It is beneficial in reducing weight It helps to lose weight faster. For this purpose one should take a glass of lemon water in the morning on an empty stomach. The lemon water is prepared by squeezing the juice of a lime and mixing it into a glass of warm water with 3 spoons of honey and a pinch of salt. It really helps in losing weight on one hand and people who consume it feel energetic and fresh throughout the day.
It controls high blood pressure It controls high blood pressure, dizziness, nausea and provides relaxation to the mind and body. It also controls mental stress, depression and nervous disorders.
It helps in curing Rheumatism Lemon is also a diuretic and hence lemon water can treat rheumatism and arthritis. It helps remove bacteria and toxins from the body.
It reduces fever Lemon water can treat a person suffering from cold, flu or fever. It helps relieve fever by increasing perspiration. Half-sliced limes lightly roasted with a pinch of salt and black pepper improve the aftertaste.
It acts as a blood purifier Diseases such as cholera or malaria can be treated with lemon water because it can act as a blood purifier.
It is good for relieving stomach problems Because the digestive quality of lemon juice helps in dealing with indigestion, gastric problems and constipation. It also acts as a liver tonic and in killing parasites. It is antibacterial, antifungal and also able to control worms. Lemon water with sugar and salt is also prescribed to compensate for water loss or dehydration during diarrhea and dysentery.
BAD EFFECTS OF LEMONS
Although lemon has many benefits but some people have a skin allergy to lemon and at the same time it can affect tooth enamel, gastroesophageal disease and tonsillitis. Since lemon juice has citric acid it can irritate the mucosa and remove calcification of the teeth.
USE OF LEMON IN CULINARY
• Lemon juice, flesh and rind are used in many culinary applications and are common kitchen items around the world. Lemon is used to prepare various food recipes such as potato chat, chat mix, cake, lemon chicken, lemon flavored drinks.
• It is used to make lemonade (Shikanjee with sugar), Sharbat, Squash (soft drink).
• It is used as a preservative in the preparation of short-term pickles of ginger, garlic, green chill etc.
• It is used in cooking onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes and beetroot salads.
• It is also used in apple, banana, guava fruit salad because its acidic juice denatures enzymes and prevents browning and degradation of fruits and keeps them fresh for a longer period.
• Lemon juice is also used to marinate fish (reduces odor), mutton and chicken to soften collagen fibers.
• While making Ladoos, Shakarpara, Gulabjamun and Jalebi ( Chasini) Sugar syrup is cleaned by adding some lemon juice as it contains citric acid.
• Grated dry skin (like oranges) is used in bakeries for flavoring and in marmalades, jams, jellies, puddings and biryani.
CERTAIN HOME USES OF LEMON
The aroma of lemon oil is used in aromatherapy, improving mood and spirit.
It is also used in soaps, body lotions, shampoos and other cosmetics as a moisturizer.
Lemon slices are used as a freshener in the refrigerator.
It is used to clean and brighten brassware and decorative pieces along with salt and baking soda.
Half-cut limes are wiped to remove dirt, oil, grease and to clean plastic storage containers.
It is also used for the preparation of citric acid.
It is used as a scrub on the skin along with gram flour, turmeric, curd and rose water.
It is rubbed with coconut oil on the scalp before washing the head to remove dandruff.
CULTIVATION OF LEMONS
Lemons are planted with seeds that germinate when they get moisture or through cuttings, grafting and others. Nursery beds are prepared on light fertile soil. It grows well in a variety of soils. A pH range of 5.5 to 7.5 is suitable for lemon cultivation. The soil should be well drained. Irrigation improves plant growth, flowering and fruiting in citrus. Planting should be done from June to August. The distance between plants should be 5m x 5m. Fertilization is required three times a year. Micronutrient spray promotes growth. The subtropical climate is most suitable for the growth and development of lemons. Dry and arid conditions with low rainfall are most suitable for the plant. India ranks sixth in lemon production in the world. In India Citrus fruits are grown in Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka. Andhra Pradesh. Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Gujrat, Assam and Uttaranchal Lemon trees are perennial and bear fruit for up to 10 to 15 years and can reach a height of 6-8 feet and a canopy of about 4 feet.
LEMON DISEASE MANAGEMENT
The most common disease of Lemon and other citrus plants in India is Citrus canker. Kagzi Nimboo is infected in the rainy season by the bacterial pathogen Xanthomonas citri through stomata and wounds. This disease attacks leaves, twigs and fruit. All green parts and mature fruits are covered by brown scab spots about 3-4mm. The market value of fruits is reduced due to scab lesions. To control this disease 1% Bordeaux mixture or 500 ppm Streptomycin sulfate solution is effective. Citrus gummosis is caused by Phytophthora species. The symptoms are the exudation of rubbery material, yellowing and eventually the leaves fall. Citrus greening diseases caused by Psylla (MLOs). The symptoms are yellowing of the fronds and veins of mature leaves. Eventually all the leaves turn yellow and fall off. For the control spray of 0. 05% Malathion is used. Aphids cause serious damage to Citrus trees during the growing season. Aphids suck the sap from the leaves until the leaves become twisted and deformed. Small orange-winged insects whiteflies feed on the undersides of leaves and also lay eggs. On hatching the larvae remain attached to the leaves and suck the sap. The leaves become curled and covered with fungal material. To control pests gammexane powder can be applied to the leaves and soil around the roots.
LEMON POST-HARVEST DISEASE
Like other fruits and vegetables, lemons are also infected by various pathogens during storage such as. Alternaria, Fusarium, Botrytis, Geotrichum, Penicillium etc. cause black and brown rot, gray and blue green molds cause severe damage. To control this post-harvest disease, it should be stored at low temperatures and during packaging for transport, safe and mild fungicides should be used.
RECIPE FOR THE PREPARATION OF SOME LEMON PICKLES
1. Whole lemon with salt and Ajwain (Carum) I have seen this pickle prepared since childhood by my mother.
Ingredients 25 medium-sized limes
200-250 gm of salt
2 tablespoons Ajwain
Method – Lemon is washed with water and dried. Both ends are cut with a knife and with a lemon fork poked in seven to eight places. Lemons with salt and ajwain are put in a clean glass jar with a tight lid. The air is left in the sunlight for about 25 days. Jars are shaken after every 2 to 3 days. The color of the lemon gradually changes. It is a durable and storable thorn. It is very tasty and can be taken with Khichadi or Rice and dal. It is useful in gastric problems.
2. Sweet and Sour Lemon Pickles
Ingredients: Lemon -1kg
Salt -150 gm
Sugar -200 gm
Masala Salt (Coarsely Ground)-4 teaspoons (Dalchini, Bara Illaichi, Clover and
Method: Lemon is washed with water and dried. With a sharp knife, two cuts are made to divide the lemon into four parts that are joined at the base. Between the pieces a mixture of salt, sugar and garm masala is filled. These stuffed lemons are placed in a glass jar with an airtight lid. It is left in the sun for about a month. Pickles are very tasty and can be stored for 2-3 years.
3. Pickled ginger in lemon juice
½ kg Ginger peeled, washed and cut into long, thin pieces. 7-8 lemons squeezed to extract the juice. Ginger pieces are kept in a glass jar and about 2 tablespoons of salt and lemon juice are added and stirred well. In a day or two the color of the ginger pieces turns pink and the prickles are ready to eat. It can be used for about two weeks after the color of the ginger pieces start to turn pale and the taste also changes.
4. Pickled garlic in lemon juice
Peeled garlic cloves are mixed with a little salt and lemon juice in a glass jar. In about 10 to 15 days the garlic cloves become soft and sour. It is prescribed in stomach problems, indigestion and others.
5. Pickled Green Chili in lemon juice
Green chilies are cut lengthwise in the middle and then salt and lemon juice are added. It is a very tasty pickle, increases hunger.
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