Lemons: Nutrition Facts

Calories in Lemons and Their Health Benefits

lemon nutrition facts and health benefits

Photo: Alexandra Shytsman

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, rounds, or grated to make lemon zest.

Whether you are using the juice or the zest, lemons are naturally low in calories and carbohydrates and available all year long.

Lemons Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 fruit (2-1/8" dia) (58 g)
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories 17 
Calories from Fat 2 
Total Fat 0.2g0%
Saturated Fat 0g0%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1g 
Monounsaturated Fat 0g 
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 1mg0%
Potassium 80.04mg2%
Carbohydrates 5.4g2%
Dietary Fiber 1.6g6%
Sugars 1.4g 
Protein 0.6g 
Vitamin A 0% · Vitamin C 51%
Calcium 2% · Iron 2%
*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet


Lemons are rich in vitamin C and low in calories and carbohydrate. One whole lemon contains a mere 17 calories, 1.6 g fiber, and 50 percent of your daily needs of vitamin C. Typically, the calorie intake from lemons is negligible because a small amount of lemon juice is used as opposed to eating the whole fruit.

Health Benefits

By the late 1700s, the British Navy discovered that scurvy, a vitamin C deficiency disease, 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 10 mg of vitamin C.

Most people don't eat whole lemons anymore and instead use the lemon juice. To get a significant amount of nutrients from lemon juice, you'd have to use a very large quantity. Still, lemon juice is a very good source of vitamin C and contains many phytonutrients, which also can have health benefits.

Studies indicate that higher intakes of vitamin C from either diet or supplements are associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), including coronary heart disease and stroke. Vitamin C is an important water-soluble vitamin that has been shown to boost immunity, prevent aging, and aid in repairing cells and tissues.

Common Questions

Can you eat a lemon whole?

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.

Why does adding lemon juice to apple prevent brown spots?

Certain foods, such as apples, turn brown when they begin to oxidize. The process is referred to as 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 to the eye. Other foods, such as pears, bananas, avocado, eggplants, and potatoes also undergo enzymatic browning. The acidic nature of lemon juice prevents browning by denaturing the enzymes.

Can the acid in lemon damage your teeth?

Yes. 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.

Selection and Storage

Look for lemons that have thin skin; this is an indicator of juiciness. Lemons should feel heavy for their size and appear bright, vibrant yellow, with a smooth surface. Avoid lemons that are soft and spongy and have wrinkled skin.

Store lemons in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for optimal shelf life, about 2 to 3 weeks. If you keep lemons out at room temperature, they are likely to last for about a week.

Healthy Ways to Prepare Lemons

You can use lemons to add color and flavor to all different types of cuisines and meal types.

Make your own salad dressing, using lemons as a nutritious way to reduce your sodium and calorie intake.

Spice up your vegetables with a lemon-y sauce. Cut up lemon wedges and slices to flavor your water or seltzer and 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 an important ingredient in making healthier dessert options.

Be sure to utilize the whole lemon, using the skin 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.

Recipes With Lemon

Try this refreshing Greek lemon garlic salad dressing or an easy main course with shrimp scampi.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
  • Linus Pauling Institute. Vitamin C.