Lemons 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Scientifically known as Citrus limon, lemons are among the world’s most popular citrus fruits.

They grow on lemon trees, and are a hybrid of the original citron and lime.

There are many ways to enjoy lemons, but they taste very sour and are usually not eaten as whole fruit.

Instead, they are eaten in little slices, as garnish with meals, and their juice is often used to provide a sour flavor. They are also a key ingredient in lemonade.

Lemons are a great source of vitamin C and fiber, and contain many plant compounds, minerals and essential oils.

Eating lemons may help lower the risk of heart disease, cancer and kidney stones.

This is what lemons typically look like:

Lemons on a Wooden Table


Nutrition Facts

Lemons contain very little fat and protein. They consist mainly of carbohydrates (10%) and water (88-89%).

A medium sized lemon only contains about 20 calories.

The table below contains information on all the nutrients in lemons (1).

Lemons - Nutrition Facts

General information
Water89 %
Protein1.1 g
Carbs9.3 g
Sugar2.5 g
Fiber2.8 g
Fat0.3 g
Saturated0.04 g
Monounsaturated0.01 g
Polyunsaturated0.09 g
Omega-30.03 g
Omega-60.06 g
Trans fat~
Amount %DV
Vitamin A1 µg0%
Vitamin C53 mg59%
Vitamin D0 µg~
Vitamin E0.15 mg1%
Vitamin K0 µg~
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)0.04 mg3%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)0.02 mg2%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)0.1 mg1%
Vitamin B5 (Panthothenic acid)0.19 mg4%
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)0.08 mg6%
Vitamin B120 µg~
Folate11 µg3%
Choline5.1 mg1%
Amount %DV
Calcium26 mg3%
Iron0.6 mg8%
Magnesium8 mg2%
Phosphorus16 mg2%
Potassium138 mg3%
Sodium2 mg0%
Zinc0.06 mg1%
Copper0.04 mg4%
Manganese0.03 mg1%
Selenium0.4 µg1%
Carbohydrate9.3 g
Fiber2.8 g
Sugars2.5 g
Amino Acids
Aspartic acid~
Glutamic acid~
Saturated fatty acids0.039 g
4:00 mg
6:00 mg
8:00 mg
10:00 mg
12:00 mg
14:01 mg
16:035 mg
18:02 mg
Monounsaturated fatty acids0.011 g
16:11 mg
18:110 mg
20:10 mg
22:10 mg
Polyunsaturated fatty acids0.089 g
18:263 mg
18:326 mg
18:40 mg
20:40 mg
20:5 n-3 (EPA)0 mg
22:5 n-3 (DPA)0 mg
22:6 n-3 (DHA)0 mg
Cholesterol0 mg


The carbohydrates in lemons are primarily composed of fibers and simple sugars such as glucose, fructose and sucrose (2).


The main fiber in lemons is pectin.

Soluble fibers like pectin can lower blood sugar levels by slowing down the digestion of sugar and starch (3).

Dietary fibers are an important part of a healthy diet, and linked with numerous health benefits (3, 4).

Bottom line: Lemons contain approximately 10% carbs, mainly consisting of soluble fibers and simple sugars.

Vitamins and Minerals

Lemons contain several vitamins and minerals.

Lemon Ripe

  • Vitamin C: An essential vitamin and antioxidant. It is important for immune function and skin health (5, 6).
  • Potassium: A diet high in potassium can lower blood pressure levels and have positive effects on cardiovascular health (7).
  • Vitamin B6: A group of related vitamins that are involved in converting food into energy.

Bottom line: Lemons are very rich in vitamin C, and are also a decent source of potassium and vitamin B6.

Other Plant Compounds

Pile of Lemons

Plant compounds are natural bioactive substances found in plants, some of which have powerful health benefits.

The plant compounds in lemons, and other citrus fruit, may have beneficial effects on cancer, cardiovascular disease and inflammation (8, 9, 10).

These are the main plant compounds found in lemons:

  • Citric acid: The most abundant organic acid in lemons, and may help prevent the formation of kidney stones.
  • Hesperidin: An antioxidant that may strenghten our blood vessels and prevent atherosclerosis (11, 12).
  • Diosmin: An antioxidant that is used in some drugs that affect the circulatory system. It improves vascular muscle tone and reduces chronic inflammation in blood vessels (13).
  • Eriocitrin: An antioxidant that is found in lemon peel and juice (13, 14).
  • D-Limonene: Found primarily in lemon peel. It is the main component of lemon essential oils, and responsible for the distinct smell of lemons. In isolation, it can help relieve heartburn and stomach reflux (15).

Many of the plant compounds in lemons are not found in high amounts in lemon juice, so it is recommended to eat the whole fruit for maximum benefit (16, 17).

Bottom line: Lemons contain plant compounds that provide various health benefits. These include citric acid, hesperidin, diosmin, eriocitrin and D-limonene.

Health Benefits of Lemons

Squeezed Lemons

Citrus fruits, including lemons, have been associated with numerous health benefits.

This is attributed to the vitamins and fiber content, as well as their powerful plant compounds (18).

Cardiovascular Health

Cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes, is the world’s most common cause of death.

Intake of fruits high in vitamin C is linked to reduced cardiovascular disease (19, 20).

Low levels of vitamin C in the blood are also linked to increased risk of stroke (21), especially among those who are overweight or have high blood pressure (22).

Intake of isolated fibers from citrus fruits has been shown to decrease blood cholesterol levels, and the essential oils in lemons can protect LDL cholesterol particles from becoming oxidized (23, 24).

Recent studies on rats show that the plant compounds hesperidin and diosmin may have beneficial effects on some key risk factors for heart disease (25, 26, 27).

Prevention of Kidney Stones

The citric acid in lemons can increase urine volume, which may help prevent the formation of kidney stones (28, 29).

Some studies have shown that lemon juice and lemonade can be effective at preventing kidney stones (30, 31), but other studies have found no effect (32).

Prevention of Anemia

Anemia is often caused by iron deficiency, and is most common in pre-menopausal women.

Lemons contain small amounts of iron, but they are a great source of vitamin C and citric acid, which can increase the absorption of iron from other foods (33, 34).

Because lemons can enhance the absorption of iron from foods, they may help prevent anemia.


Lemons may help reduce the risk of many types of cancers, including breast cancer. This is mainly due to plant compounds like hesperidin and d-limonene (35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42).


Bottom line: Lemons may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, help protect against anemia and prevent the formation of kidney stones.

Lemon Water

Many people drink lemon water, either hot or cold, a few times per day.

Little Girl Drinking Lemon Water

The recipe is usually freshly squeezed juice from 1/2 – 1 lemon in a cup of water.

Drinking water with freshly squeezed lemon may have some health benefits.

Lemon water is a rich source of vitamin C and plant compounds, which can enhance immune function (5), protect against various diseases (20, 35) and increase the absorption of iron (34).

The citric acid in lemons decreases the risk of kidney stones by diluting urine and increasing urine output (28).

Given that some pulp goes into the mix, the pectins in the pulp can promote satiety and feed the friendly bacteria in the gut, promoting good health and decreased risk of disease (3).

To top things off, the lemon aroma derived from the essential oils might decrease stress and improve mood (43).

Lemonade should have similar health benefits, except for the added sugar that is often added to it. Added sugar can be very harmful when consumed in excess.

Bottom line: Drinking lemon water may decrease stress, enhance immune function, help prevent anemia, reduce the risk of kidney stones and help protect against several diseases.


Lemons are an effective cleaning product because of their ability to dissolve fat (15), as well as their refreshing aroma.

Adverse Effects

Lemons are generally well tolerated, but citrus fruit may cause allergic reactions in a minority of people (44).

They may also cause contact allergy and skin irritation in people with dermatitis (45).

Lemons are quite acidic, so eating them frequently may be harmful for dental health if the tooth enamel becomes damaged (46).

Bottom line: Lemons are usually well tolerated, but they may cause allergies or skin irritation in some people. Large amounts may be harmful for dental health.


Lemons are a refreshing fruit that is usually not eaten whole, but rather eaten in slices, or added to foods and beverages for their distinctive flavor.

They are an excellent source of vitamin C, soluble fibers and plant compounds, all of which can provide health benefits.

At the end of the day, lemons are a healthy food, and an excellent way to add flavor and aroma to meals.

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