The ingredient From Led Zeppelin's The Lemon Song to U2's Lemon, rock stars have long been inspired by everyone's favourite citrus flavour.

Stock image dated January 9, 2005 showing Slices of lemon close-up. reativ Studio Heinemann / WestEnd61 / Rex Features 

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From Led Zeppelin's The Lemon Song to U2's Lemon, rock 'n' rollers have long been inspired by everyone's favourite ­citrus flavour. And not just lyrically. There are plenty of artists who have incorporated the plucky little fruit into their names: Blind Lemon Jefferson, The Mighty Lemon Drops and Lemon Jelly, to name but three. But why the lemon and not ­another fruit? Possibly ­because Blind Lime Jefferson, The Mighty ­Orange Drops and Grapefruit Jelly just don't have quite the same ring.

Or maybe it's because of its fresh, tangy flavour, its clean, lively aroma and its striking colour that the lemon is such a potent symbol in the world of musical excess? It is synonymous with ­vitality, vim and vigour - and as anyone who has chased off a cold with a glass of hot lemon with honey will confirm, lemon has an uncanny knack of perking people up and getting them to their feet. That'll be down to the vitamin C, citrus flavonoids and phytochemicals contained in lemons, which all help to protect the body against illnesses, from colds to cancer. The potassium in lemons helps to reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol. Eating lemon peel can aid muscle recovery. And the fibre found in the white fleshy membranes that separate the segments and make up the rind can moderate blood sugar levels and help you to feel fuller on fewer calories. How rock 'n' roll is that?

OK, not very. But when it comes to excitement on the palate, few foods can beat the lemon. Citric acid gives the lemon its tart, refreshing taste. As such, the juice is used liberally in salad dressings, especially in Middle Eastern dishes such as fattoush and tabbouleh. The acid in lemons is also used extensively in marinades because as well as imbuing flavour, it helps to tenderise the meat. Sprinkling lemon juice on to foods that turn brown after being sliced (apples, potatoes etc.) can slow down the oxidisation process and help to preserve the natural colour. And for every savoury dish that's reliant on lemons, there a dessert recipe that's equally indebted to its citrusy prowess. And that's not all.

If you thought the lemon was only useful in the kitchen, then think again. The lemon is mother nature's personal deodorant, quickly seeing off unpleasant smells from waste disposal units, fridges and bathrooms. Lemon juice can be called upon to clean tarnished metals and marble; it can be used as a mild bleach on both hair and clothes; and it can be used as a revitalising face wash, nail cleaner, disinfectant and breath freshener. And if that isn't music to your ears, I don't know what is.