You know when your mother buys you a useless piece of crap as a gift and you have to pretend that you like it? Well this green chip and dip bowl set was one of those gifts. To be honest, I don’t really entertain and I try not to eat chips. However, it turned out that this set was perfect for this Greek chicken salad with Creamy lemon and oregano dressing.
This salad was tasty, easy to prepare, light and nutritious too. I enjoyed the combination of lemon and oregano. You often hear that drinking a glass of water with lemon juice each day is good for your health. So I did a quick scan of the scientific literature to see if there was any actual scientific basis to this claim. Citrus fruits are in fact full of important components to human nutrition, such as vitamin C, folic acid, potassium and flavonoids. I also learnt that citrus fruits contain significant amounts of compounds known as limonoids. The ‘delayed bitterness’ that can occur in citrus juice after the juicing process is due to the content of limonoids (1). This delayed bitterness develops in the juice of citrus fruits suffering physical damage. It was discovered in 1969 that the physical disruption of the juice sacs causes the conversion of a tasteless limonoid precursor to a bitter limonoid (2). Citrus seeds also contain the bitter limonoid (3).
The citrus limonoids have been investigated as anticancer agents due to their structure. Studies in animals, including mice (4), hamsters (5) and rats (6), as well as studies with human cell lines have shown that the citrus limonoids show antitumor properties. In one study the activity of the limonoids was compared to the cancer chemopreventative drug tamoxifen and were found to be more than 1000 times more potent than tamoxifen in inhibiting estrogen receptor-negative cancer cells and over 10 times more effective than tamoxifen in inhibiting estrogen receptor-positive cancer cells (7). I am not trying to say that lemon juice will cure cancer but I found these studies quite interesting.
The limonoids have also been investigated for their cholesterol lowering activity and studies using human liver cells have shown that one of the limonoids, limonin, can lower the structural protein of LDL cholesterol known as apoB (the ‘bad cholesterol’) (8). Further human studies are required to fully assess the potential anticancer and hypocholesterolemic activity of the citrus limonoids.
Considering the studies investigating the biological activities of the citrus limonoids, and because these compounds are present in high concentrations in citrus fruit and juices, there is the potential that lemon juice may contribute to human health. However, I seriously doubt that the amount of limonoids required to produce the effects described above could be obtained by a squeeze of lemon juice in your water each day, but it is refreshing and will not do any harm. Regardless of the health benefits, this Greek chicken salad with a Creamy lemon and oregano dressing is delicious and costs under $9 to make*.
Greek chicken salad
Makes 1 large salad
1 chicken breast, cubed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 chicken stock cube
1 heaped teaspoon of dried oregano
Juice and zest of half a lemon
Creamy lemon and oregano dressing
3 tablespoons Greek yoghurt
1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon reduced fat coconut cream
½ teaspoon honey
2 tomatoes, cut into this slices
1/3 of a red capsicum, cut into thin strips
¼ of a red onion, cut into thin strips
½ cup pitted black olives
Non-stick fry pan
Measuring cups and spoons
Small mixing bowl
- Add the garlic, crumbled chicken stock cube and ¼ cup of water to the non-stick fry pan. Begin cooking the garlic then add in the chicken, oregano, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper. Continue cooking over medium heat until the chicken is done. Add water as necessary to prevent sticking.
- While you are keeping an eye on the chicken, chop the ingredients for the salad and prepare the salad dressing by mixing all the ingredients together in a small mixing bowl.
- Serve the chicken on top of the salad drizzled with the dressing.
*Total cost based on all groceries purchased from Aldi.
- Manners GD (2007) Citrus limonoids: analysis, bioactivity, and biomedical prospects. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 55(21):8285-8294.
- Maier VP & Margileth DA (1969) Limonoic acid A-ring lactone, a new limonin derivative in citrus. Phytochemistry 8(1):243-248.
- Hasegawa SB, R. D.; Verdon, C. P. (1980) Limonoids in citrus seeds: Origin and relative concentration. J. Agric. Food Chem. 28:922-925.
- Lam LKTZ, J.; Hasegawa, S (1994) Citrus limonoid reduction of chemically induced tumorgenesis. Food Techonology:104-108.
- Miller EG, et al. (1989) The effect of citrus limonoids on hamster buccal pouch carcinogenesis. Carcinogenesis 10(8):1535-1537.
- Tanaka T, et al. (2000) Citrus limonoids obacunone and limonin inhibit azoxymethane-induced colon carcinogenesis in rats. BioFactors 13(1-4):213-218.
- Guthrie NH, S.; Manners, G. D.; Carroll, K. K.; & Berhow MAH, S.; Manners, G. D. (2000) Inhibition of human breast cancer cells by citrus limonoids. Citrus Limonoids: Functional chemicals in agriculture and foods, (American Chemical Society, Washington, DC.), Vol 758, pp 164-174.
- Kurowska EMB, C.; Hasegawa, S.; Manners, G. D. (2000) Regulation of apo B production by HepG2 cells by citrus limonoids. Citrus Limonoids: Functional chemicals in agriculture and food, (American Chemical Society, Washington, DC).