Carbs in Lemons

Nutritional Information for Lemons

Lemon and salt
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Lemons are a great way to boost the flavor of a dish for very little carbohydrate, so they are included in many main dishes in small amounts.  In larger amounts, they are refreshing and are often used in desserts and beverages (many of my low-carb cocktails include lemon or lime juice).  The only trouble with lemons is that they are so sour that it takes a fair amount of something sweet to make the food palatable.

  So if  you are avoiding both sugars and low-calorie sugar substitutes, you probably should avoid recipes with a prominent lemon flavor.

On the other hand, lemon zest (the yellow outside) of the lemon contains lots of flavor for almost no carbs or calories. A microplane grater removes the zest easily and avoids the bitter white pith beneath.  If  you are using the zest of the lemon, it may be a good idea to scrub the outside well or consider purchasing organic lemons, as they are often sprayed with pesticides and fungicides, even after they are picked.

Meyer Lemons are a cross between a lemon and an orange and are much sweeter than a regular lemon.  We could assume that this means they have more sugar in them, but the USDA database does not have an entry for Meyer Lemons in release 28, and I cannot find an authoritative source for this information.

Carbohydrate and Fiber Counts for Lemons

Since we usually don't eat lemons, but instead use the juice, I have provided information on fresh lemon juice.

  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice: 1 gram effective (net) carbohydrate plus 0 grams fiber and 4 calories.
  • Juice of 1 medium lemon (a little over 1.5 oz): 4 grams effective (net) carbohydrate plus 0 grams fiber and 12 calories.

Glycemic Index for Lemons

There is no scientific study of the glycemic index of lemon juice, probably because it is usually consumed in such small amounts.

More Information About the Glycemic Index

Glycemic Load of Lemons

  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice: 1
  • Juice of 1 medium lemon: 1

More Information About the Glycemic Load

Health Benefits of Lemons

To get a significant amount of nutrients from lemon juice, you'd have to use more juice than usual. Still, lemon juice is a very good source of vitamin C and contains many phytonutrients, many of which can have health benefits.

Selecting and Storing Lemons

The main thing about selecting lemons is to try to find the thin-skinned ones, which have much more juice in them.  The thin-skinned ones have a relatively smooth surface while the thick-skinned varieties are more "pockmarked" or dimpled.  When you cut into one, you'll see that it's largely white pith, and they also tend to be dryer.

Low-Carb Recipes With Lemon

    More Information About Lemons at Calorie Count Plus.

    More Carb Profiles:


    Leroux, MarcusFoster-Powell, Kaye, Holt, Susanna and Brand-Miller, Janette. "International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vol. 76, No. 1, 5-56, (2002).

    USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28.

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