Coffee and Lemon: Is It a Good Mix?

Coffee and lemon are two ingredients with recognized properties, but what about consuming them together? Do the beneficial effects really multiply? Find out!
Coffee and Lemon: Is It a Good Mix?
Anna Vilarrasa

Written and verified by the nutritionist Anna Vilarrasa.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

A new combination, coffee and lemon, is trending in the world of beverages. Many expect it to produce health benefits that go beyond those provided by both ingredients separately.

There’s nothing that says that these products cannot be mixed. However, it remains to be seen what happens when it comes to the benefits promised by consuming them together.

Coffee and lemon

The exact formula to prepare it is to add the juice of one lemon to one cup (8 ounces) of coffee. And even though, for some people, it may seem like an unusual combination, others see it as a promise of positive health effects.

Almost certainly, many people think that lemon is a better accompaniment to a cup of tea. However, traditionally, people in specific regions have long been drinking it as a refreshing drink to combat the heat.

To begin to shed some light on its use and usefulness in terms of health, it’s best to review the benefits of these two ingredients separately.

The benefits of coffee

To prepare coffee, dried and ground beans are infused with very hot water. A simple process for one of the most consumed beverages around the world. According to data from the British Coffee Association, around two billion cups of coffee are drunk every day.

Throughout history, its consumption has had both a good and a bad reputation. For this reason, science has made it one of its focuses of attention. It’s known for being a stimulating food, capable of improving certain aspects such as memory, concentration, and fatigue.

Coffee intake has been investigated concerning different health parameters. However, as the authors of an important summary of existing studies point out, most of them are observational, so we must be cautious with the conclusions.

The positive associations between coffee and liver disease (cirrhosis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or liver fibrosis) are among the most consistent. There also appears to be a lower probability of developing liver cancer.

Similarly, the authors highlight a reduction in the risk of all-cause mortality in those people who consume coffee compared to those who don’t. And a lower incidence of cardiovascular diseases and metabolic problems, such as type 2 diabetes.

The absolute maximum amount of coffee a person should drink seems to be three cups per day. However, a higher intake doesn’t seem to be dangerous, but it doesn’t seem to offer more benefits either.

Apparently, there are no indications of harmful effects with continued use of the beverage. Except for the recommendations of not consuming it during pregnancy and in those women with a higher risk of suffering bone fractures.

A couple drinking coffee.
Coffee has been extensively studied by science. And for good reason. It’s estimated that two billion cups a day are consumed in the world.

Discover more: Is Caffeine Consumption Safe during Pregnancy?

What does lemon contribute to the body?

Citrus fruits are grown around the world and are known to be one of the fruits with the highest intake. Their vitamin and other phytochemical contributions have turned them into products used for therapeutic purposes.

Their most important nutrient is vitamin C. It plays key roles in the body, such as helping bone development, wound healing, and maintaining healthy gums.

Also, at the metabolic level, it enables the activation of B vitamins, the conversion of cholesterol into bile acids, and the transformation of tryptophan into serotonin.

This important micronutrient acts in synergy with other elements, such as flavonoids, carotenes, alkaloids, and essential oils. Thanks to these, science has been able to link them to some positive health effects:

  • Antioxidant: Allows counteracting free radicals. The presence of free radicals plays a critical role in aging, inflammation, and heart disease.
  • Increased consumption of citrus fruits is associated with lower mortality and morbidity due to cardiovascular problems.
  • Vitamin C protects the immune system, reducing the severity of allergic reactions and helping to fight basic infections, such as colds.

Myths about the Benefits of Coffee with Lemon

Beyond the positive effects presented by the two separately, there are some claims about health improvements related to the consumption of coffee with lemon. These are the supposed promises regarding this beverage.

Body fat reduction

This is one of the most enticing promises. However, neither coffee nor lemon has proven to be foods capable of making lipid accumulations disappear from the body.

Some studies have observed caffeine’s ability to increase metabolism and, consequently, to burn calories. However, this does not affect weight loss and fat reduction.

Therefore, it seems that science is clear and the veracity of this belief can’t be proved for the moment. In any case, coffee helps to diminish the sensation of hunger.

They help control headaches

The second popular claim about this mixture isn’t supported by scientific data either. There may even be some contradiction, as in some cases, coffee consumption has been related to migraines.

While we know that combining caffeine with medication can amplify the effects of drugs, lemon has no benefit in this regard.

Coffee with lemon promotes a healthier skin

A high intake of fruits and vegetables is positive for improving skin health. But, at the moment, which of their components is responsible for this is unknown.

This is why the general recommendation to ensure the consumption of three pieces of fruit per day is always positive. Also, if you include lemon or other citrus fruits, the contribution of vitamin C stimulates the synthesis of collagen. This protein promotes the elasticity and strength of the dermis.

They provide relief from diarrhea

This is the last of the popular beliefs about this drink and it doesn’t seem to be supported by the data obtained so far. On the contrary, caffeine increases colon movements and accelerates the urge to go to the bathroom.

Coffee intake isn’t indicated in cases of diarrhea, since its diuretic effect may worsen the loss of fluids that occurs with increased bowel movements.

A woman cringing and grasping her abdomen.
Diarrhea implies loss of liquids and electrolytes, so coffee is contraindicated in these conditions, since it increases diuresis.

Does mixing coffee with lemon enhance its benefits?

The ingestion of coffee and lemon has positive effects on health, as long as they’re consumed within the framework of a healthy diet and healthy life habits. However, for the moment, we can’t say the same about the result of mixing them.

Does this mean that it’s a bad option to drink the usual coffee with a splash of lemon juice? Not at all. This can be one of your morning wake-up choices, but don’t expect any magical effects. Thanks to the lemon, coffee gains freshness, and its bitterness decreases.

The latest trend in beverages doesn’t offer the promised benefits

Many people often drink hot water with lemon or coffee in the morning. Each can be beneficial, although the sum of the two doesn’t seem to have more positive effects.

In any case, there’s no evidence that it improves headaches or helps reduce body fat. Nor that it should be a drink of choice in the case of diarrhea.

So it’s possible to choose lemon to refresh a good coffee. Provided that you find its taste pleasant and drinking it doesn’t produce adverse side effects.

The intake of moderate doses of each of them or their combination seems to be safe. But you shouldn’t forget that more quantity isn’t always synonymous with more benefits. Abusing them could have harmful effects.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Chambial S, et al.  Vitamin C in disease prevention and cure: an overview. Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry. Septiembre 2013. 28(4):314-328.
  • Gunter M.J, et al. Coffee Drinking and Mortality in 10 European Countries: A Multinational Cohort Study. Annals of internal medicine. Agosto 2017. 167(4):236-247.
  • Lohsiriwat S, et al. Effects of caffeine on anorectal manometric findings. Diseases of the colon and rectum. Junio 2008. 51(6):928-31.
  • Lv X, Zhao S, Ning Z, et al. Citrus fruits as a treasure trove of active natural metabolites that potentially provide benefits for human health. Chemical Center Journal. Diciembre 2015. 9:68.
  • Martí N, et al. Vitamin C and the role of citrus juices as functional food. Natural product communication. Mayo 2009.4(5):677-700.
  • Maughan R.J, Griffin J. Caffeine ingestion and fluid balance: a review. Journal of human nutrition and dietetics. Diciembre 2003.16(6):411-20
  • Poole R, et al. Coffee consumption and health: umbrella review of meta-analyses of multiple health outcomes [published correction appears in BMJ. 2018 Jan 12;360:k194]. British Medical Journal. Noviembre 2017.359:j5024.
  • Pullar J. M, et al. The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. Nutrients. Agosto 2017. 9(8), 866.
  • Velickovic K, et al. Caffeine exposure induces browning features in adipose tissue in vitro and in vivo. Scientific Reports. Junio 2019. 9(1):9104.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.