Lemon Vs Lime: Difference & Uses

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

While some people think of lemon and lime as interchangeable, there are a number of differences between these two fruits, as well as unique health benefits to both! Here we describe both in detail.

Lime vs Lemon

Lemon is a fruit from the small, evergreen lemon tree (Citrus limon) that is native to Asia. In comparison, lime is actually a hybridized citrus fruit and comes in many different varieties around the world. However, both lime and lemon are from the same citrus family. The shape of lemon is ellipsoidal, and the ripened fruit is bright yellow in color. On the other hand, lime is typically round and green and are slightly smaller than most lemons. [1] [2]

Note: Although some people may think that limes are simply lemons that haven’t ripened yet, they are mistaken, as per the evidence above.

Nutrition Facts

Limes, raw
Serving Size :
Water [g]88.26
Energy 30
Energy [kJ]126
Protein [g]0.7
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.2
Ash [g]0.3
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]10.54
Fiber, total dietary [g]2.8
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]1.69
Calcium, Ca [mg]33
Iron, Fe [mg]0.6
Magnesium, Mg [mg]6
Phosphorus, P [mg]18
Potassium, K [mg]102
Sodium, Na [mg]2
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.11
Copper, Cu [mg]0.07
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.01
Selenium, Se [µg]0.4
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]29.1
Thiamin [mg]0.03
Riboflavin [mg]0.02
Niacin [mg]0.2
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.22
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.04
Folate, total [µg]8
Folate, food [µg]8
Folate, DFE [µg]8
Choline, total [mg]5.1
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]2
Carotene, beta [µg]30
Vitamin A, IU [IU]50
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.22
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]0.6
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.02
14:0 [g]0
16:0 [g]0.02
18:0 [g]0
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.02
16:1 [g]0
18:1 [g]0.02
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.06
18:2 [g]0.04
18:3 [g]0.02
Tryptophan [g]0
Lysine [g]0.01
Methionine [g]0
Sources include : USDA [3]

Lime vs Lemon Nutrition

Neither lime nor lemon is a rich source of many vitamins and minerals. However, both are low in calories and are an abundant source of vitamin C. It is the high level of vitamin C that made lemons and limes so vital during the 18th and 19th centuries. English sailors (known as “limeys”) would be away at sea for many months and were required to bring citrus fruits. Why? To stave off the common disease scurvy, which is due to a lack of ascorbic acid (vitamin C)!

Vitamin C

  • Lime: 100g of lime contains 29 mg of vitamin C, which is 35 percent of the daily requirement. [4]
  • Lemon: 100g of lemon contains 53 mg of vitamin C, which is 64% of the daily requirement. [5]

(Source: USDA National Nutrient Database)

pH Scale

  • Lime: The pH range of lime is 2.00 to 2.35. [6]
  • Lemon: The pH range of lemon is 2.00 to 2.60. This makes lemon slightly less acidic than lime. [7]

(Source: US Food and Drug Administration)

Other nutrients

  • Lime: It is slightly higher in carbohydrates and lower in protein than lemon, but the difference is negligible.
  • Lemon: It is high in citric acid as well as phytochemicals, tannins, and polyphenolic compounds.
A bowl of lime and lemons on a grey background

Lime and lemons have the same nutritional benefits and are low in calories. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Lime vs Lemon: How they Taste?

Lemon tends to contain a higher sugar content, which often gives it a sweeter flavor than lime, whereas lime is sour, or tart, making it ideal for cocktails and beverages. Lemon has a fresh fruity taste, making it ideal for lemonade. Consuming pure lemon juice or lime juice can be equally unpleasant experiences due to the tartness, which is why they are usually mixed with other beverages or recipes before being consumed.

While the two fruits clearly have a number of differences, the two citrus fruits do have a great deal in common as well.

Health Benefits of Lime & Lemon

These share many of the same health benefits, as outlined below, making them some of the most popular and important citrus fruits you can add to your diet.

Boost Immunity

Lime and lemon are rich in vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid. It helps strengthen the immune system. This critical vitamin stimulates the production of white blood cells, which are the first line of defense for the body when it is attacked by an illness or infection. According to a study conducted at International Antioxidant Research Centre at King’s College in London,iron and vitamin C, which are present in citrus fruits, help prevent oxidative damage of DNA in healthy cells. [8]

Expedite Healing

Vitamin C, present both in lemons and limes, plays a critical role in the production of collagen. Collagen is required for growth and development of muscles, skin cells, tissue, and bones throughout the body. Without vitamin C, the recovery rate of illnesses and injuries would be much slower.

Optimize Digestion

Lemons and limes are a good source of dietary fiber, says Dr. Sherry Tanumihardjo of the University of Wisconsin- Madison, in her review study. This can easily bulk up the stool, reduce constipation, and eliminate excess gas and bloat. With about 3g of fiber in each fruit, it represents about 10 percent of the daily recommended amount of fiber. However, given the tartness of these fruits, you may only be able to get through a few bites at a time! [9]

Boost Circulation

Both of these citrus fruits contain significant levels of iron, which is an important element in hemoglobin. Without proper iron levels, people may suffer from anemia, characterized by weakness, fatigue, cognitive confusion, and lightheadedness.

Antioxidant Activity

Citrus fruits like lemons and limes contain high levels of other antioxidants, in addition to vitamin C, which can counteract the effects of free radicals. According to studies citrus fruits aid in lowering oxidative stress and reducing the risk of degenerative diseases and chronic diseases such as cancer. [10] [11] [12]

Weight Loss

The high fiber level and low-calorie count make these citrus fruits ideal for weight-loss. Whether it’s used as a seasoning or squirted into a cup of tea, it can help prevent meals. This makes it perfect for someone trying to shed some pounds!

How to Use Lime and Lemon?

Those who are passionate about designing and decorating drinks (cocktails and mocktails), should be well aware of the citric acid content in limes and lemons.

  • Both lime and lemon mixed within a particular beverage produce different drinks with unique flavors.
  • For example, lemon juice with vodka results in the lemon drop, while lime juice with vodka forms gimlet.
  • Additionally, lemons due to their tart, refreshing flavor find their applications in various culinary uses more than limes. They can bring a hint of citrus and “brightness” to an otherwise dense entree or dessert.

Other uses: Lemons are also used in many cleaning products and as an element in natural healing, whereas, limes are used in perfumes and aromatherapy.

Lime or Lemon: Which one is Better?

  • Lemons have a slight edge in terms of nutrients, taste, and versatility in cooking and beverages.
  • Limes do have a lesser concentration of vitamin C but they can also be used in many ways in cooking and cocktail-making.

However, while both of these fruits are very good for overall health, lemons would likely win the nutritional battle!

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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