Is lime high in sugar?

Limes are a popular citrus fruit known for their bright green color and sour, tangy flavor. They are commonly used to add flavor to dishes, drinks, marinades and dressings. But despite their tart taste, some people wonder if limes are high in sugar.

Quick Answer

No, limes are actually low in sugar compared to other fruits. One medium sized lime contains around 1.1 grams of sugar. This is much less than other citrus fruits like oranges which contain 12 grams of sugar per fruit. The tart flavor of limes comes from their citric acid content, not sugar.

Total Carbohydrates and Sugar in Lime

Here is the total carbohydrate and sugar breakdown for 1 medium lime (2 inches in diameter) according to the USDA FoodData Central database:

Nutrient Amount
Total carbohydrates 3.9 grams
Sugars 1.1 grams

As you can see, a whole lime contains just 1.1 grams of sugar. The rest of the carbohydrates come from fiber and other compounds.

For comparison, here are the sugar contents of other common fruits:

– Orange: 12 grams of sugar per orange
– Apple: 19 grams of sugar per medium apple
– Banana: 14 grams of sugar per banana
– Grapes: 15 grams of sugar per cup

So limes contain far less sugar than these other sweet fruits. The small amount of sugar in limes exists in the form of sucrose, glucose and fructose. But the tart citric acid is responsible for the flavor.

Why Are Limes Tart if They’re Low in Sugar?

Limes get their uniquely tart, sour taste from citric acid, not sugar. Here’s a comparison of the main nutrients in a lime:

Nutrient Amount
Total sugar 1.1 grams
Citric acid 1.7 grams
Malic acid 0.03 grams
Tartaric acid 0.01 grams

As you can see, limes contain significantly more citric acid than sugar. Citric acid is responsible for the tart, sour taste of citrus fruits. Malic and tartaric acid also add to the tartness but citric acid is most abundant.

The citric acid content is why limes taste sour even though their sugar content is low. Lemons and grapefruit also have this high citric acid to sugar ratio.

Lime Juice Nutrition

Since limes are often squeezed for their juice, you may wonder about the nutrition of lime juice. Here are the nutrient totals for 1 fluid ounce (30ml) of raw lime juice:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 8
Total carbohydrates 2.4 grams
Sugars 0.4 grams
Citric acid 0.5 grams

There are 0.4 grams of sugar in one fluid ounce of lime juice. So again, it’s quite low compared to the amount of tart citric acid.

Overall limes are very low in sugar for a fruit. The small quantity of sugar they contain is overpowered by the high citric acid content, giving them their signature sour kick.

Limes for Diabetics

Due to their low sugar content, limes are considered a good fruit option for diabetics.

The American Diabetes Association recommends limiting high sugar fruits like bananas, grapes, cherries and mangos when managing diabetes. Citrus fruits like limes and lemons are better choices.

The small amount of carbohydrates and sugar in limes is less likely to cause blood sugar spikes compared to other sweeter fruits.

According to Diabetes UK, a reasonable serving size of limes or lime juice for diabetics is:

– 1 medium lime
– 2-3 lime wedges
– 1-2 tablespoons (15-30ml) lime juice

When consumed in these amounts, the sugars in limes are unlikely to significantly impact blood sugar levels.

Moderate amounts of lime can fit into a healthy, balanced diet for diabetics. But it’s still important for diabetics to monitor their carbohydrate intake from all foods including fruits and juices.

Selecting and Storing Limes

When selecting fresh limes, look for limes that are bright green and firm. Avoid limes that are dried out, shriveled or have brown spots.

For the juiciest limes, select limes that feel heavy for their size and yield slightly when gently squeezed.

You can store fresh limes at room temperature for up to 1 week. For longer storage, keep limes refrigerated for 2-4 weeks.

Stored in an airtight container, lime juice will keep for 1-2 months refrigerated or 6 months frozen.

Lime Varieties

There are several varieties of edible limes:

Persian Limes

Persian limes are the most common supermarket lime. They are oval shaped with a bright green, thin skin. Persian lime trees originated in Southeast Asia but are now grown in warm climates worldwide.

Key Limes

Key limes are smaller, round limes native to Central America and Florida. They are more tart than Persian limes due to their higher citric acid content. Key lime juice and zest are commonly used in desserts and beverages.

Kaffir Limes

Kaffir limes are knobbly, green citrus fruit native to Southeast Asia. They have a highly aromatic rind used for flavoring curries and sauces in Thai and Lao cuisine. The rind is the most commonly used part, while the juice contains an unpleasant bitterness.

Spanish Limes

Spanish limes are significantly larger and less sour than other lime varieties. Their thick, green skin encases segmented, juicy flesh ranging from yellow to green. They are popular in the Caribbean regions.

Wild Limes

Wild limes refer to various lime relatives that grow naturally outside of cultivation. They include desert limes in Australia and makrut limes, also known as kaffir limes. Wild limes tend to be smaller and contain edible scented rinds.

How Much Lime Juice in a Lime?

A medium sized Persian lime (2 inch diameter) yields around 2-3 tablespoons of juice.

Here is a guide to expected juice quantities from different lime sizes:

Lime Size Lime Juice Yield
Small lime (1.5 inches) 1 – 1.5 tablespoons juice
Medium lime (2 inches) 2 – 3 tablespoons juice
Large lime (2.5+ inches) 3 – 4 tablespoons juice

Keep in mind that juice yields can vary based on ripeness, variety and juicing method. Rolling a lime firmly on a flat surface before juicing can help maximize the amount of juice extracted.

Lime Juice vs. Lemon Juice

Limes and lemons have similar nutritional profiles. However, there are some key differences:

Nutrient Lime Juice (30ml) Lemon Juice (30ml)
Calories 8 9
Total Carbs 2.4g 3g
Sugars 0.4g 0.7g
Citric Acid 0.5g 1.4g

As you can see, lime and lemon juice are very close in calories, carbs and sugar. Lemon juice provides a bit more citric acid, making it taste more sour. Lime juice has a milder, subtler acidity.

When it comes to usage, lime and lemon juice are largely interchangeable in recipes. But their different flavor profiles mean that sometimes one variety works better than the other depending on the dish.

Lime Zest Nutrition

Along with the juice, the zest of limes can also be used to add flavor. Lime zest refers to the thin, green outer rind which contains aromatic citrus oils.

Here is the nutrition data for 1 teaspoon (2 grams) of lime zest:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 3
Total Carbs 0.7g
Sugars 0.1g
Fiber 0.2g
Vitamin C 1.5mg

Lime zest provides a concentrated source of lime flavor with minimal calories, carbs and sugar. It packs vitamin C and fiber in every teaspoon.

Use lime zest to add punchy lime essence to baked goods, salad dressings, dips, marinades and cocktails. Be sure to zest limes before juicing to maximize use of the whole fruit.

Health Benefits of Limes

Here are some of the top health benefits of adding limes to your diet:

High in Vitamin C

Limes are an excellent source of vitamin C. One medium lime provides over 18% of your daily vitamin C needs. Vitamin C promotes immune function, iron absorption and skin health.

Antioxidant Protection

Limes contain antioxidant compounds like flavonoids, limonoids and carotenoids. These antioxidants help neutralize free radicals to reduce cellular damage related to chronic disease.

Supports Heart Health

The vitamin C and potassium in limes support heart health. Vitamin C lowers blood pressure and potassium helps reduce sodium in the blood to cut heart disease risk.

Aids Digestion

Citric acid from lime juice aids the digestion process. Lime juice triggers the release of gastric juices to break down food as it passes through your gastrointestinal tract.

Boosts Immunity

Limes provide vitamin C, copper and antioxidants that boost the activity of your immune cells. This enhanced immunity helps your body fight off viral and bacterial infections.

Alkalizing Effect

Despite being acidic outside the body, lime juice produces an alkalizing effect internally once metabolized. This alkaline environment helps remove uric acid from the body.

How to Use More Lime

Here are some simple ways to use more limes in your everyday cooking:

– Add lime juice and zest to dressings, dips, marinades and vinaigrettes. The acidity brightens up the flavor.

– Use lime juice as a finishing splash over cooked fish or seafood dishes. This adds brightness.

– Mix lime juice with olive oil and cilantro to dress corn on the cob, tacos or fajitas.

– Saute shrimp or chicken in lime juice, garlic and cayenne for a quick taco or fajita filling.

– Grill wedges of lime alongside meat, chicken or fish. Squeeze grilled lime over the cooked food for a smoky citrus burst.

– Bake lime wedges or lime zest into cookies, cakes, muffins and breads for subtle citrus flavor.

– Add freshly squeezed lime juice to smoothies, lemonade, margaritas and mojitos for tangy refreshment.


Limes are generally safe to consume but there are some precautions to keep in mind:

– If you have acid reflux or GERD, the acidity of lime juice may trigger symptoms in some people. Monitor your personal tolerance.

– Lime zest is perfectly safe to consume but avoid the bitter white pith underneath which can be unpleasant.

– Dental enamel erosion can occur with frequent consumption of acidic lime juice. Rinse your mouth with water after drinking lime juice.

– In some cases, contact with lime peel can cause phytophotodermatitis, a skin reaction when exposed to sunlight. Handle lime peel carefully.

– Due to their acidity, consume limes in moderation if you have digestive issues like ulcers or IBS. Discontinue use if it worsens symptoms.


Limes provide a unique citrus flavor and nutritional benefits despite being low in sugar. Their refreshing acidity comes from the natural citric acid content rather than added sugars. Limes make a tasty, low-calorie addition to dressings, marinades, beverages and other dishes. When consumed in reasonable amounts, limes can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet.

Leave a Comment