Winter 2014 True Natural Health Magazine – Your Questions Answered
By Roger French


QUESTION:  I use lime juice instead of lemon in the morning and assume it is of equal benefit. Is this correct?

Detoxing in the morning to bring the body back into an ‘at ease’ state certainly appeals.



Lemons and limes are very similar nutritionally. Both are citrus fruits rich in Vitamin C. Their genus and species names are Citrus limon and Citrus latifolia (or aurantifolia) respectively. When ripe, lemons are yellow and limes are green to yellowish. Limes are smaller than lemons. Because of their citric acid content, lemons are sour, whereas limes are less sour and even slightly sweetish.  

The nutrient contents of lemons and limes are comparable. Water contents are 88 – 89%. From Australian government (FSANZ) tables, vitamin C contents are identical at 47 – 48 mg/100 gm in raw, peeled fruit; potassium in lemons is 120 mg/100 gm and in limes is 150 mg; magnesium is close to 10 mg in both and calcium is close to 20 mg in both.

So nutritionally, lemons and limes are very similar, except for significantly higher potassium content in limes. Other minerals and vitamins are not worth a mention because these fruits are consumed in very small quantities – or they should be, because their acid is fairly strong, and in large amounts on a regular basis could damage tooth enamel and cause other problems. Lemons, limes and their juices should not be consumed neat because of the potency of this acid. A drop splashed into the eye or a wound is sharp evidence of their acidity. In contrast to other citrus fruits, sugar content is insignificant.

Although lemons tend to taste more acidic than limes, the pH of both is very similar at 2.3 to 2.4 due to a very high citric acid content of 5 – 6%. In contrast, after metabolism in the body is complete, the effect of lemons and limes is to make the bodily fluids more alkaline – they are alkali-forming. This seeming contradiction occurs because the citric acid is burned for energy and the end product, carbon dioxide, is breathed out, leaving the alkaline minerals to predominate. This applies to all acidic fruits (including tomatoes).

These wonderful citrus fruits have valuable antioxidant and antibiotic effects. Lemons and limes contain flavonoid compounds called flavonol glycosides (including kaempferol), which, among other beneficial effects, impede cancer cell growth.

In addition, compounds in lemons, limes and other citrus fruits, called limonoids, help fight cancers of the mouth, skin, lung, breast, stomach and colon. Our bodies can readily absorb and utilise a long-acting limonoid called limonin, a potent anti-cancer compound that can prevent cancerous cells from proliferating.

Their antibiotic effects are of great interest, particularly in West Africa where, during cholera epidemics, the inclusion of lime juice with the main meal of the day was found to be protective against cholera.

Lemon or lime is an ideal fruit to start the day, as it is cleansing on the palate, stimulates the liver and is very alkali-forming. It must always be well diluted with water – half an average lemon or lime in a glass of (very warm) water is about right.

At other times of the day, still well diluted, lemons and limes are marvellous cleansing fruits, tending to relieve colds, sore throats and congestion. For the digestive system, these fruits are antiseptic and detoxifying. They also reduce uric acid in gout and reduce gallstones.

We can see that lemons and limes are roughly equal in value nutritionally and either would make a great start to the day – well diluted, of course.