Lime is a small, round, green-color hybrid citrus fruit. Due to its acidic sour juice and unique aroma, the lime fruit is widely used in various cuisines to accent flavor. It is a common ingredient in Mexican, Vietnamese, and Thai cuisine. There are several species of citrus fruits referred to as limes including key lime, kaffir lime, wild lime, desert lime, and Persian lime. This zesty, tropical fruit has been well known for its medicinal properties for ages. Lime finds its application in cosmetic and health products, too. Extracted from the lime’s peel or skin, the lime essential oil is extensively used in aromatherapy and perfumes.
Benefits of lime
- Skin Care – Lime juice contains healthy acids and helps remove dead cells when applied to the skin. It builds collagen, rejuvenates the skin, and improves overall texture. Vitamin C protects the skin from infections as well as cures rashes, acne, pimples, bruises, and blemishes, as per a study in the journal Nutrition flavonoids contained in limes also inhibit microbial growth, which helps prevent gum bleeding. It fights skin damage caused due to sun, dust, and pollution. Its antioxidant and astringent properties can help reduce wrinkles, as well as diminish dark spots, skin tan, and open pores. You can create a refreshing bathing experience by just adding this juice when bathing. It also helps reduce body odor. For ages, the use of lime has been a well-known cure for scurvy, a disease caused by vitamin C deficiency. It is characterized by frequent infections that show as normal cold symptoms, cracked lips, and lip corners.
- Aids in Digestion – Limes have an irresistible aroma, which may cause the mouth to water. This aids primary digestion (the digestive saliva floods your mouth even before you taste it). The natural acidity of lime does the rest. While they break down the macromolecules of the food, the flavonoids stimulate the digestive system and increase secretion of digestive juices, bile, and acids. This also stimulates peristaltic motion which moves the food throughout the intestine. The ample amount of acid present in lime helps clean the excretory system. The roughage in lime may aid in providing relief from constipation. An overdose of its juice with salt also acts as an excellent purgative without any side effects, thereby relieving constipation.Note: This is the reason behind lemon pickle being consumed along with lunch and dinner in India, and various neighboring countries. Also, drinking a glass of warm lime water about 30 minutes before meals can help prevent heartburn or acid reflux symptoms.
- Fights Infections – Lime intake protects the body against various microbes, viruses, and bacteria including Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and Salmonella bacteria infections.
- Weight Loss – A study conducted on mice shows that the essential oils present in lime prevented weight gain and excess food consumption. Also, the citric acid present in it is an excellent fat burner. A glass of warm water with the juice of an entire lime can be effective as an excellent weight reducer. How to use: Consume two glasses of warm water with lime juice a day to reap benefits in a few days.
- Manages Blood Sugar – The high levels of soluble fiber found in lime make it effective in helping to regulate the body’s absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. This helps reduce the occurrence of blood sugar spikes that are a serious risk to diabetic patients. Also, limes and other citrus fruits have a low glycemic index, which means they will not cause any significant or unexpected spikes in glucose levels. This is the reason why the American Diabetes Association considers limes and other citrus fruits a superfood for diabetes.
- Prevents Heart Diseases – A study led by Dr. Frank Hu, professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School, suggests that foods rich in vitamin C have a protective effect against coronary heart disease. Additionally, soluble fiber and limonin found in limes help lower blood pressure. This helps reduce the inflammation of the blood vessels and further aids in reducing the risk of heart diseases. Also, potassium and magnesium in limes improves blood circulation and boosts heart health. Vitamin C in lime juice and lime peels may help lower ischemic stroke risks, according to an animal study published in the journal ARYA Atherosclerosis. It also helps slow down the progression of coronary heart diseases like atherosclerosis by decreasing fatty streaks in arteries. Hesperidin, a flavonoid present in lime, helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the body which is another heart-healthy benefit.
- Decreases Cancer Risk – Citrus fruits may also contain valuable anti-cancer properties, according to research from the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition. A research study published on anticancer activity of key lime suggests that its consumption may be useful for cancer therapy. This is because of its ability to scavenge free radicals and reduce oxidative stress. Antioxidant-packed phytochemicals like flavonoids, flavones, triterpenoid, and limonoids in lime have potent cancer-fighting properties. They can stop the growth of various cancer cells preventing colon, breast, prostate, pancreatic, stomach, lungs, kidneys, and blood cancer. It is also capable of eradicating cancer cells in some cases. More research needs to be done on the mechanisms of citrus fruit components and the anti-cancer benefits, but studies so far appear to be positive.
- Relieves Inflammation – Citrus fruits, in general, have anti-inflammatory properties and can be used for a number of inflammatory issues. One of the many causes of arthritis is an excess build-up of uric acid in the body. The citric acid found in limes is a solvent in which uric acid can dissolve. Increasing citric acid in the body helps eliminate excess uric acid from the urine.
- Prevents Kidney Stone – The citric acid in fresh or concentrated lime juice helps remove and prevent kidney stones by increasing urinary citrate and urine volume, according to a 2007 study from the journal Urology by Dr. Kristina Penniston, Division of Urology, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison. Another study showed that consuming lemonade for nearly four years decreased kidney stone formation from an average of one stone per year down to just 0.13 per year. Therefore, this may be used as the first line of natural therapy.
- Boosts Immunity – Lime strengthens the body’s line of defense and helps ward off infections and diseases like malaria, diarrhea, and pneumonia. Also, vitamin C in the citrus fruit helps to battle coughs and colds and boosts the body’s overall immunity. This is confirmed by a series of studies including a 2017 research in the journal Nutrients.
- Increases Iron Absorption – Vitamin C in lime when paired with foods rich in iron, helps maximize the body’s ability to absorb iron. In addition to speaking with a professional about iron supplementations and iron-rich foods, those suffering from iron-deficiency anemia symptoms like – dizziness, brittle nails, hair loss, and fatigue should consider adding lime to their diet.
- Heals Peptic Ulcer – In addition to vitamin C, lime contains special compounds called flavonoids (limonoids such as limonin glucoside), which have antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, antibiotic, and detoxifying properties. The acids in lime react with the gastric juices of the stomach resulting in alkaline reactions. The flavonoids and the alkaline reaction collectively stimulate the healing process of peptic and oral ulcers.
- Relief from Respiratory Disorders – The flavonoid-rich oil that is extracted from limes is extensively used in anti-congestive medicines such as balms, vaporizers, and inhalers due to the presence of kaempferol. Just scratching the peel of lime and inhaling it gives immediate relief from nasal congestion and nausea. Vitamin C also prevents the trigger of asthma caused by air pollution, says a 2015 report in the journal Nutrients.
- Eye Care: The antioxidant properties of lime protect eyes from aging and macular degeneration. On top of that, flavonoids help protect them from infections.
- Alleviates Fever: Citrus fruits, in general, have fever-reducing qualities because of vitamin C found in high concentrations, which naturally lowers the temperature of the body.
- Provides relief from Gout: There are two main causes of gout. The first source is the accumulation of free radicals and the second is the accumulation of toxins in the body, primarily uric acid. Limes can help prevent both of the causes, due to the presence of abundant antioxidants, vitamin C, and flavonoids.
- Relief from Piles: Since lime helps heal ulcers and wounds in the digestive and excretory system (while providing relief from constipation) it may also remove some of the root causes of piles. Piles are a different term for hemorrhoids, an uncomfortable condition that occurs in the anal region, and can result in bleeding and discomfort during excretion. It can help prevent their formation or recurrence.
- Defends against Cholera: The flavonol glycosides in lime have antibiotic properties which protect the body against various bacteria and microbes including Vibrio cholera, according to a study conducted in West Africa. Lime juice, when added to infected water, works effectively as a disinfectant. Also, regular intake of lime juice by patients exposed to cholera-infected water can reduce the symptoms of this fatal disease.
- Help with Urinary Disorders: The high potassium content in limes is very effective in the removal of toxic substances and the precipitates deposited in the kidneys and the urinary bladder. The disinfectant properties of lime also help cure infections in the urinary system. Furthermore, it stops prostate growth (very common in males above 40) and clears blockage of urine caused due to the buildup of calcium in the urinary tract.
- Hair Care: Applying lime juice to the scalp has tremendous benefits like shiny, healthy, and dandruff-free hair and scalp. Apply lime juice to your hair and expose it to sunlight for an hour. Then, rinse it. This will make your hair 2-3 shades lighter in color.
- Boosts Women’s Health: Calcium and folate present in it are two important nutrients for women in menopausal and child-bearing age.
Adding limes to your diet
If you cannot consume it raw then it can added to dressings, drinks, marinades or used in following ways:
Culinary Uses: Lime juice adds a tart flavor to soups, salads, vegetables, and baked foods. Squeezing some lime juice onto roasted chicken or pan-fried white fish can add a tangy taste to it. It is also widely used in the preparation of desserts, pickles, jams, jellies, snacks, and candies.
Beverages: It is a favorite ingredient when it comes to cocktails, sorbets, and fresh beverages.
The best time to eat lime by adding it in water is first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
Although limes do not have major side effects, excessive intake may cause some issues like:
- Skin allergy: Itchiness, redness, and swelling.
- Food allergy: Hives, asthma, and flushed skin.
- Eroded enamel: Over-consumption may erode the tooth enamel and increase its sensitivity due to the high amount of citric acid.
- Phytophotodermatitis: In some cases, applying the lime juice to the skin directly may increase skin sensitivity to UV rays, resulting in phytophotodermatitis.
- Migraine trigger: Tyramine present in the citrus fruit can cause a migraine trigger in some people.
Cleansing Agent: It can easily increase the cleansing properties of any facial cleanser or shampoo by merely adding 2-3 drops.
Aromatherapy & Perfumes: Lime essential oil is used in aromatherapy and perfumes for its fragrance and its stimulating effect on the body and mind.
Cosmetic Products: It is used in cosmetic products like body oil, hair oil, toothpaste, beauty soap, disinfectant, mouthwash, and deodorant.
Medicinal Uses: Because of their antibacterial, antiseptic, and disinfectant properties, the peel, oil, and juice of the fruit have medicinal uses. It is also used in making anti-congestion medicines and to treat severe diarrhea.
Recipe for Coconut & lime rice
PREP: 5 MINS, COOK: 15 MINS, SERVES 4, Calories – 340 kcal
250g jasmine or basmati rice
5 tbsp desiccated coconut
zest and juice 1 lime
small pack coriander, roughly chopped
Cook the rice following pack instructions. Add the coconut about 5 mins before the end of the cooking time. Stir in the lime zest and juice, and the coriander. Serve immediately.
Recipe for Honey lime fruit salad
PREP TIME – 15 MINUTES, TOTAL TIME – 15 MINUTES, CALORIES – 150 KCAL
2 mangos, peeled and diced
1 lb. fresh strawberries, diced
1 lb fresh pineapple, diced
12 oz blueberries
12 oz grapes, halved
4 kiwis, peeled and diced
2 bananas, sliced
Honey Lime Dressing
1/4 cup honey
zest of 2 medium limes
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp poppy seed
Add all fruit to a large mixing bowl. Add bananas just before serving, so they don’t turn brown.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the honey, lime zest, lime juice and poppy seed. Pour over fruit just before serving and toss to evenly coat.
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