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Limes vs. Lemons: How These Fruits Really Differ

Lemons and limes have very similar nutritional benefits and uses. However, they have quite a few differences too. Here's what to know about limes and lemons.

We know fresh citrus fruits provide a host of health benefits and add zest to food and drinks. But they each have their own personal little qualities that determine what they're best for, in terms of nutrition and flavor.

Do you know the difference between limes and lemons? Continue below to understand your way around these two citrus kitchen favorites.


Whether you're a fan of margaritas, guacamole or key lime pie, chances are you've encountered a dish that needs that dash of lime.

In general, limes are slightly less acidic and contain less sugar than lemons. However, in a raw taste test, many people say that lime is the more sour or bitter fruit.

Like lemons, the juice, leaves, and zest can be used. Limes are popular in a variety of different cuisines, such as in Mexican and South Asian dishes. Their diversity makes them a staple to many cultural dishes.

For instance, dried limes are used in several Persian and Iraqi dishes, as well as part of the spice blend that makes up a traditional baharet blend. Mexicans enjoy them as a soup, in India, they are used in pickling, and Asian cuisines including Thai and Vietnamese cooking use the juice liberally in flavoring sauces.

Lime extracts and essential oils are used frequently in cleaning products and aromatherapy. Purported benefits include the treatment of viral and bacterial infections and a powerful disinfectant.

Nutritionally, limes don't pack quite the punch as lemons with their lower Vitamin C content, containing about 35% of your Daily Value per 100 grams.


Lemons, on the other hand, contain around a whopping 64% of your daily Vitamin C needs per serving. They also contain the highest citric acid content of the citrus fruits - slightly more than limes, twice that of grapefruit, and over five times the amount in oranges.

Lemons have their own flavor profile when it comes to their cooking uses. Baked goods, drinks of all sorts from lemonade to numerous cocktails, and meat marinades all benefit from this versatile little fruit.

In many Mediterranean countries, they are preserved in large barrels with salt and used a wide variety of dishes.

The peel is used to create pectin, a common food thickening, and gelling agent, and the oil is used not just for its uplifting scent, but in antifungal and astringent properties. Even the leaves of the lemon tree can be used in herbal tea preparations.

In the last decade, lemon water has become a huge fad, with every benefit from weight loss to creating an alkaline effect on the body. While further studies are needed to back up these claims, it does make a refreshing drink!

Limes vs. Lemons

The main difference between limes and lemons, besides their flavor profile, are their physical differences.

Lemons are larger, oblong-shaped, and bright yellow, although they start off greener. Limes are smaller, more circular and vivid green, although some varieties have a yellow tinge to them.

Whether it's a refreshing whiff of lemon in your favorite cleaning product or a splash of lime in your after-work cocktail, these two little citrus fruits each have their special qualities. If you'd like to learn more about limes and lemons, check out our blog for more about these amazing citrus fruits!

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