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Lemons vs Limes, which is healthier?

By: Cat Ebeling, BSN, co-author of the best-sellers:  The Fat Burning KitchenThe Top 101 Foods that Fight Aging & The Diabetes Fix

Lemons and limes are some of the most popular citrus fruits in the world.

Lemons and limes are often used interchangeably for cooking purposes, but what about their health purposes? Are lemons and limes alike? Though they have a lot in common, they’re also distinctly different in some ways.

These two fruits are well known for their acidity and sourness, which makes them useful in a variety of dishes, salads, soups and drinks.

Lemon and lime essential oils made from the rinds are often used for cosmetic and medicinal purposes. They’re also included in many household cleaning products for their fragrance and antibacterial properties.

Many people often mistakenly think limes are just unripe lemons but that is not the case. Lemons and limes are two totally different citrus fruits but closely related.

Lemons grow on a small evergreen tree that is actually native to Asia. Limes are thought to be a hybridized fruit and actually come in several varieties from various parts of the world. Lemons and limes are now grown all over the world.

However, lemons — formally known as Citrus limon — are typically grown in moderate climates, while limes — or Citrus aurantifolia — grow better in tropical and subtropical regions.

Round vs Oblong

Lemons and limes definitely look different—if you look closely. Lemons are bright yellow and oblong, while limes tend to be smaller, rounder, and green. Some types of limes actually do turn yellow when ripe, but they do not turn into lemons.

Harvest

While limes are not unripe lemons, they are unripe limes and are harvested before they ripen. When harvested early and while still green, they have a rich, sour flavor and more citric acid. Once a lime is mature and yellow, they lose their acidity and their sour taste and become bitter.

Lemons are picked when ripe, yellow and mature.

Taste

Lemons and limes have a similar taste and are often used as substitutes for each other. But they do taste different. Lemons have a distinctly sour taste, while limes tend to be slightly more bitter but seem to have more flavor. Lemons contain about 2% sugar, while the bitter lime only contains 0.5% sugar. Limes tend to be more acidic than lemons. Some lemons, like Meyer lemons have a much mellower and sweeter taste.

Lemon vs Lime Nutrition

While neither lemons or limes have huge amounts of vitamins and minerals, both lemons and limes have generous amounts of vitamin C. Lemons win out here though, as they have substantially more vitamin C than limes do.

Ounce for ounce, (or gram for gram) lemons have more vitamin C. For example, 100 g of lime contains approximately 29mg of vitamin C, while 100g of lemon contains 53mg of vitamin C. In addition, they also have more potassium, vitamin A, vitamins B6 and folate.

Both lemons and limes have some great health benefits—let’s take a look.

Strengthen Immunity

Lemons and limes contain a good amount of vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, which helps to strengthen the immune system, helping your body fight colds, flu, and other pathogens. Vitamin C helps to increase white blood cells, our little ‘army’ that fight off illnesses and infections.

Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant which helps prevent damage to the DNA of our cells, protecting and helping insure we have healthy cell reproduction. This review from the Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism shows that vitamin C helps reduce the duration and severity of respiratory tract infections.

Lemons and limes also fight inflammation. You can also keep your immune system strong by avoiding foods containing sugar or processed foods, eating probiotic rich foods and getting regular exercise.

Good for the Heart

Vitamin C is also valuable for the heart, helping you fight heart disease and lowering blood pressure. One study from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston looked at the diets of 126,399 adults over a period of eight to 14 years and found that each serving of fruits and vegetables was associated with a 4 percent decreased risk of heart disease. It was found that the vitamin C-rich fruits and veggies, like lemons or limes had the biggest impact.

Another study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism in 2014 found daily consumption of lemons or limes was associated with a decrease in blood pressure, as well.

Prevents Kidney Stones

The citric acid in lemons or limes helps to prevent painful kidney stones. Lemons and limes are also slightly diuretic, helping to increase urine volume and cleanse the kidneys.

One small study published in the Journal of Urology treated 11 participants with lemonade therapy for nearly four years. Researchers found that stone formation dropped significantly, from an average of one kidney stone per year down to just 0.13 per year. And this study showed that treating kidney stone patients with lemon or lime juice increased urinary citrate levels and decreased the amount of calcium in the urine, suggesting that citric acid may be a potential alternative treatment for preventing kidney stones.

Cancer Fighting Citrus

Lemons and limes share powerful cancer-fighting benefits. These citrus fruits have lots of antioxidants in them, fighting free radical damage which can negatively alter our cells and make us more prone to developing cancer. Lemons and limes’ phytochemicals include flavonoids, flavones, triterpenoids and limonoids.

Another compound identified in limes was found to block colon cancer cell growth by 67%. Other studies show both lemons and limes to be effective in fighting other types of cancer, including breast cancer and pancreatic cancer. This study from Saudi Arabia, showed that lemon fruit extract helped kill breast cancer cells.

Lemons and limes also contain compounds like hesperidin and d-limonene, which have both been shown to have cancer-preventing properties. This makes lemons and limes some of the most powerful weapons in the fight against cancer.

Aids Digestion and Increases Iron Absorption

Iron is an important mineral for our bodies; it helps build red blood cells which carry oxygen to all parts of our bodies. Deficiencies in iron can cause anemia which can result in dizziness, weakness, fatigue and a lowered immune response. Vegans and vegetarians have a more difficult time absorbing iron, especially if they only eat plant-based foods. Women who are menstruating also have higher iron needs. Athletes and people who live at higher altitudes also need a great supply of iron in their diets.

Vitamin C, in the form of ascorbic acid helps to enhance iron absorption from foods. This is also why cooking foods high in iron with a type of acid, like lemons or limes to enhance absorption. One of the best ways to get some extra iron in your diet is to cook in a cast-iron skillet. Adding a squeeze or two of lemons and limes helps to leach iron from the skillet which cooks into your food.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition even found that consuming 100 milligrams of vitamin C with a meal, increased iron absorption by 60 or more percent.

Aids in Weight Loss

Lemons and limes are very low in calories, yet they add mouth-watering flavor to water and increase your saliva, preventing a dry mouth. Drinking lemon water can help with weight loss. Many times when we reach for a snack, we are actually just thirsty, so a glass of lemon or lime water helps to fulfill your thirst and help you stay away from munching. And the sour flavor actually help you feel slightly more satiated.

If every day you traded in a glass of high sugar juice or soda, you avoid almost 40,000 calories in a year! That is over 11 pounds of fat! Plus you avoid all the toxic corn syrup and its negative health benefits it has on your body.

Hydration

Lemons and limes contain citric acid which actually helps your body absorb water better. Lemon water has gained a lot of popularity as ‘the’ drink to have first thing in the morning. The reason is that lemon water helps to hydrate you, helps your body wash out toxins and excess fluids, and balance your pH. Lemons and limes also contain a good balance of electrolytes which help your body re-establish its fluid levels better than plain water.

It is considered much healthier to have a more alkaline pH which helps to prevent disease and boosts the immune system. Even though lemons and limes are very acidic, they help our bodies become more alkaline. Some research shows that a more alkaline diet can be beneficial for things like pain relief, bone health, and preventing cancer.

Lemon or lime water provides a burst of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that isn’t found in regular water. While lemon water gets the spotlight as the new healthy drink, limes are also rich in vitamin C, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants. Lime water benefits are similar to the benefits of lemon water and can boost antioxidant intake, support weight loss, and keep you healthy and hydrated with an added dose of flavor.

Add lemon or lime juice to most all of your dishes. Adding a squeeze of lemon or lime can really enhance the flavor of vegetables—especially the more bitter ones like broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts and spinach. Lemon or lime juice, combined with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of herbs or spices, makes a delicious all-purpose salad dressing or a great base for marinades, especially fish or chicken.

Lemon or lime—both of these are highly beneficial to your health and relay a variety of health benefits, so use them in drinks, dishes and desserts, and pucker up!!

If you are interested in some of the other powerful benefits of lemons and lemon water… check out this article from our friends Alternative Daily.

13 Ways that lemons heal & flush your body – benefits for blood pressure, digestion, sleep, cancer, diabetes, detox & more

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References
https://draxe.com/limes/
https://draxe.com/lemon-nutrition/
https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/difference-lemon-and-lime.html
https://draxe.com/benefits-of-lemon-water/

About The Watchdog

Mike Geary has been a Certified Nutrition Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer for over 15 years now. He has been studying nutrition and exercise for almost 25 years, ever since being a young teenager. Mike is originally from Pennsylvania, but has fallen in love with mountain life and now resides in the picturesque mountains of Utah. Mike is an avid adventurist and when he’s not spending his time skiing, mountain biking, hiking, or paddleboarding on the lake, he has enjoyed skydiving, whitewater rafting, piloting an Italian fighter plane (seriously), scuba diving, heli-skiing, and traveling all around the world, enjoying learning about different cultures. At the age of 40, Mike now feels healthier, stronger, and more energetic than when he was 20... All because of a healthy lifestyle and great nutrition!

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6 comments

  1. Thank you for all this lemon-lime content of healthy living. I am, what I often say, older than a senior having been a professional musician plus, in my youth being a baseballer player and gymnast. I brag about the fact that after I had mumps and measles as a kid, I never have been sick a day in my life….I often wished that I would get ill just to take a day off now and then. I know, however, that what I read today about lemons and limes will help me improve my already good immune system, but i also want to pass on to my friends and family the benefits I just read about and to make sure that I, and they, dump the sugar sodas, eat more fruits and veggies, drink what was highly recommended above – lemon and/or lime water drinks, and then, of course, watch the red meat intake and NEVER smoke, and maybe I will even get to the point where I am much-MUCH older than a senior in my now retirement years. I look forward to more articles about healthy eating/drinking and, I will take this message and more like this to my favorite vacation spot, Nepal, where each summer, I live with a great family of friends who want to eat and drink right, but it is more difficult there to always find proper food sources…THEY ARE THERE, by the way, but often overlooked for more ‘enjoyable pleasures’ that break down one’s health. I LOVE the Nepali food and the cooking of same, but, as in most places around the world, slight changes in eating habits can produce a lifetime of better health…America needs a LOT of that!! OK, let me have it!!

  2. Thank you kindly for the very interesting articles on lemon/limes and the advantages of using coconut oil
    daily. My husband has been diagnosed with dementia and I most certainly will give him coconut oil and look forward to some positive results.
    I also apreciate that you publish all the information needed without having to buy books and products after reading the articles.

  3. DJ Emir Mixtapes

    That was a very in-depth (borderline lengthy but rather educational) article on the great benefits of lemons and limes. I did not realize lemons had more vitamin C than limes, it feels like limes would probably balance your PH even more so than lemons due to their more acidic nature but that is my own hypothesis. And I do prefer limes over lemons when it comes to adding them into Pho (Vietnamese broth soup) and a few other soups and dishes. And I like both Lemonade and Limeade.

  4. Very informative. Thank you so much. . It’s very nice to get information and not trying to sell us a product..👍👍

  5. This article is much needed and appreciated — I use citrus fruits a LOT — using Grapefruit for breakfast and eat Oranges and Halo’s for snacks — and use Lemons — but need to utilize them MUCH MORE after this article — and seeing how many MORE ways they can be used. I have learned to make Lemon-aid with Stevia – so it is better for me to drink. Thank you for your additional input.
    I have been getting your articles for a few years now — and truly find them very interesting and informative —
    and after listening to several Docu-Series on health issues – with cancer – diabetes – autoimmune diseases –
    gluten sensitivity – heart disease – thyroid – and digestive disorders — plus many others illnesses — about balance and healthy eating – and even about how important our Microbiome is ( I can even spell it now (‘~’) ) — I have found you to be very up-to-date and in tune with most of these series on most of these health issues — and often settle many controversies I have run across on some extreme views —
    Thank you for keeping a balance to the RIGHT kinds of foods- and even preparation of foods. I tried for years to lose weight – having diabetes – but did not successfully lose it until I learned about the PLANT-BASED WHOLE FOOD DIET way of eating – and staying away from those processed foods! So I appreciate what I learn from these articles — and you are so in-depth with the vitamin and mineral content – as well as the benefits of these foods — which is most helpful to me. I have lost weight and brought my A1C test from 11 to 6.4 — now considered pre-diabetic – cholesterol from 240 to 196 — and next step is to be diabetes free.
    Thank you for this article — I may delete some sites for lack of interest or controversial information — but I have never deleted the articles I receive from your site without taking down the information —
    KEEP ON KEEPING ON ! We need this kind of solid information with all the different views and all the different things coming out every day. I want to learn all I can to live a healthy lifestyle. I feel my health is much improved and am feeling much better than I have for several years. God Bless you and your staff for putting out such good information. Nancy Bennett Baker

  6. Enjoyed this article and all the benefits of fresh lemons and limes. As someone who absolutely loves lemons and lemon water for more decades than I care to admit, I feel one (very) important thing is missing from this article. As beneficial as lemons and limes are to your general health, the complete opposite is true when it comes to your teeth! When consuming lemons and drinking lemon water (especially if you drink alot), precautions should be taken to preserve your tooth enamel and prevent erosion.

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