Science Studies The Pink Lemon
Discovered by accident in Burbank, California in 1931, for many years, the pink lemon – or variegated Eureka lemon – was only planted as an ornamental tree, with its showy white flowers and striped yellow and green fruit. It would be decades later before cooks discovered its uniquely fragrant taste – perfect for cocktails, marinades and more.
It’s only recently that science has begun to study this beautifully colored variety of lemon.
A 2017 study by Egyptian researchers looked at the basic properties of the pink variegated lemon, including its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.
The researchers found over 90 compounds, including organic acids and flavonoids. They isolated 13 for identification: limettin, limonin, chrysoeriol, p-coumaric, acid, scoparin, vitexin, chrysoeriol-7-O-glucoside, and hesperidin, along with friedlin, lupeol, behenic acid, β-sitosterol and stigmasterol mixture and β-sitosterol-O-glucoside.
There were some very interesting findings.
• Extracts from the rind and leaf were more effective than gentamycin, a commonly prescribed antibiotic, against Klebsiella pneumoniae, a bacterium that is harmless in the intestines but can cause severe infections outside it.
• Extracts from the juice were especially effective against Enterococcus faecalis, a potential cause of serious infection.
• Extracts of rind and juice also found high levels of antimicrobial activity against E. Coli.
Lycopene For Pink
Another study by researchers in Spain and Italy and published in September 2020 looked further into the composition of pink lemons, which developed as a spontaneous mutation of the common lemon or C. limon. The difference is due to the presence of the compound lycopene, which results in the pink color of its flesh.
Lycopene is a carotenoid, which are called precursors of vitamin A. As the study notes,
“Recent studies highlighted that a regular intake of carotenoids has a positive effect on human health by preventing neurodegenerative, cardiovascular and aging-related diseases, as well as reducing cancer risk.”
According to the study,
• The concentrations of lycopene found in the pulp of pink lemons are among the highest ever reported for citrus fruits.
The researchers noted that pink lemons displayed an unusual accumulation of carotenoids such at lycopene, along with phytoene and phytofluene.
It’s clear there is much more to find out about this unique – and uniquely delicious – variety of lemon.