Lemon Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

by OneGoodFoodBlog
Lemon Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Known for adding flavor, freshness, and acidity to drinks and foods, lemons are the most commonly used citrus fruits. Lemons are also used for garnish and flavoring desserts. They can be juiced, cut into wedges, or grated to make lemon zest.

This versatile fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C. Lemons are naturally low in calories and carbohydrates and are available all year long. They are a perfect fruit to keep on hand for salad dressings, seafood recipes, flavoring water, and more.

Lemon Nutrition Facts

One lemon (without rind) measuring approximately 2 1/8″ in diameter (58g) provides 17 calories, 0.6g of protein, 5.4g of carbohydrates, and 0.2g of fat. Lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C. The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 17
  • Fat: 0.2g
  • Sodium: 1mg
  • Carbohydrates: 5.4g
  • Fiber: 1.6g
  • Sugars: 1.5g
  • Protein: 0.6g
  • Vitamin C: 30.7mg
  • Potassium: 80mg


One whole lemon contains 17 calories and just over 5 grams of carbohydrate. The carbs are primarily fiber (1.6 grams) and sugar (1.5 grams). Note that the juice of a whole lemon provides only 0.14 grams of fiber, according to USDA data, but almost the same amount of sugar (1.2 grams).

The glycemic load of a whole lemon is estimated to be 1, making it a low-glycemic food.


There is a very small amount of fat in lemons, under 1 gram if you consume the whole fruit.


Lemons are not a good source of protein, providing less than 1 gram per fruit.

Vitamins and Minerals

Lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C, providing over half (30.7mg) of your daily recommended intake. There are also minimal amounts of thiamin, vitamin B6, and folate in lemon.

Lemons are not a good source of minerals, but they do contain small amounts of calcium, iron, and potassium.


Lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C, and are low calorie and relatively high in fiber. They provide minimal amounts of other vitamins and minerals such as thiamin, vitamin B6, calcium, and potassium.

Health Benefits

The health benefits of lemons are attributed primarily to the high level of vitamin C that the fruit provides.

Prevents Vitamin C Deficiency

Lemons have been used throughout history to manage vitamin C deficiency. In the late 1700s, the British Navy discovered that scurvy, a disease caused by vitamin C deficiency, could be cured by eating lemons and oranges. Today, scurvy is a rare disease in developed countries, given that it can be prevented with as little as 10mg of vitamin C (and you’ll get more than 30mg in a single lemon).

Improves Heart Health

Studies indicate that a higher vitamin C intake is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), including coronary heart disease and stroke. The benefit is likely due to the antioxidant content of lemon, which helps to prevent oxidative damage that can lead to cardiovascular disease.

But authors of one large review were careful to put their findings into perspective. They concluded that while research suggests that vitamin C deficiency is associated with a higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and that vitamin C may slightly improve endothelial function and lipid profiles in some groups, studies do not provide enough support for the widespread use of vitamin C supplementation to reduce cardiovascular risk or mortality.

Slows Age-Related Decline

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants help to prevent cell damage caused by oxidative stress. There is ongoing research about the possible impact that antioxidants can have on the aging process. There is some evidence that they may help improve skin health or even help prevent certain types of diseases associated with aging. So far, however, study results have been mixed.5

Improves Eye Health

Researchers are investigating whether a higher intake of vitamin C can help treat or prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts—common causes of vision decline in older adults. So far, study results have been inconsistent, but research is ongoing.

Supports Immune Function

Vitamin C has been shown to play an important role in immune function. And while some people take vitamin C supplements or use lemons to prevent or manage the treatment of the common cold, studies regarding its effectiveness have yielded mixed results.

A few large studies have shown that taking a vitamin C supplement of about 250 mg per day may help certain specific populations reduce the duration of the common colds. But other studies have shown no benefit in the general population. Also, it is important to note that studies investigating the relationship between the common cold and vitamin C examine supplements, not lemons.

May Help Prevent Some Cancers

Antioxidants, such as those in lemons, are being investigated for their potential impact on cancer.

According to the National Cancer Institute, increased levels of antioxidants may prevent the types of free radical damage associated with cancer development. Free radicals are chemicals that can cause cellular damage in the body. Exposure to certain environmental toxins (like cigarette smoke) may increase the free radicals in your body and even cause the body to make more free radicals.

But researchers still don’t know if antioxidants have the power to combat or prevent cancer. More research needs to be done investigating the impact of antioxidants from food versus antioxidant supplements. For now, there is not enough evidence to know for sure if there is any benefit.


People with an allergy to citrus fruits should avoid lemon or products made with lemon or lemon zest. Citrus allergy is not common but can be problematic in some people.

There are also reports of asthma as a reaction to the inhalation of lemon or orange peel.7 If you suspect an allergy to lemon, seek care from a qualified allergy specialist.

Adverse Effects

The acid in lemon juice can strip the enamel on teeth, making them weak and sensitive. If you tend to drink water with lemon often, using a straw can reduce the exposure of acid to your teeth.

According to the Natural Medicines Database, it is not known if there are drug interactions with lemon. However, one study indicated that there may be a positive impact on certain nuclear imaging tests when men ingest lemon juice prior to testing.


There are many different types of lemons. Most are bright yellow, but some have a green hue. Interestingly, one of the most common varieties—the Meyer lemon—is not a true lemon, but a cross between a lemon and a mandarin or orange.

The lemons you buy at the grocery store are likely to be Lisbon, Bearss, or Eureka. These common varieties are grown in California, Florida, and Arizona.

When It’s Best

You can find most lemons in the grocery all year round. Many growers harvest their fruit year-round, but the peak harvest season is late winter to early spring or summer.

When picking lemons, look for fruit that has thin skin, as this is an indicator of juiciness. Lemons should feel heavy for their size, appear bright, vibrant yellow, and have a smooth, blemish-free surface. Avoid lemons that are soft and spongy or have wrinkled skin.

Storage and Food Safety

Many people store lemons on the countertop to take advantage of their bright, beautiful color. But if you keep lemons out at room temperature, they are likely to last only for about a week.

To help them last longer, store lemons in the refrigerator. Some people place them in a bowl of water, but you can also place them in a plastic bag for optimal shelf life.

You can also freeze Lemons. Freeze whole lemons, lemon wedges, or lemon juice in freezer bags with as much air removed as possible.

Lemons can also help your other foods last longer. Certain produce, such as apples, turn brown when they begin to oxidize. The process is called enzymatic browning and occurs when certain enzymes and chemicals, known as phenolic compounds, combine and react to oxygen. The brown pigment, melanin, is completely harmless but not very appealing.

Other foods, such as pears, bananas, avocadoeggplants, and potatoes, also undergo enzymatic browning. The acidic nature of lemon juice prevents browning by denaturing the enzymes. To make these foods last longer, rub lemon or lemon juice on any exposed part of the fruit.

How to Prepare

You can eat a whole lemon, but you probably won’t want to. Their intense sour flavor makes them difficult to eat on their own. Instead, use lemons to add color and flavor to all different types of cuisines and recipes.

Make your own salad dressing, using lemon juice as a nutritious way to reduce your sodium and calorie intake. Spice up your vegetables or fish with a lemony sauce. Cut up lemon wedges or slices to flavor your water or seltzer, use lemon juice in fruit salads to prevent browning, or as an ingredient in marinades to tenderize meat. Lemons and lemon juice can also be important ingredients in healthier dessert options.

You can use the peel of a lemon for lemon zest (the yellow, outer skin). To zest a lemon, use a peeler or a grater, taking care not to cut the bitter inner white skin, called the pith.

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