Limes are often overlooked in a world full of lemons, but the little green fruits have just as much merit as their larger yellow cousins, and offer something a little different within the citrus family. Recipes that call for lemons can almost always be substituted for limes, and vice versa, although substituting will make the food taste a little different. Besides the fact that limes are bursting with delicious, zesty flavor, they are also packed full of health-boosting nutrients that look after our bodies from the inside out…
All About Limes
These little green round citrus fruits are a little stronger but slightly less sour than lemons, and are often used to enhance flavors or add a zesty touch to a meal. They grow on thorny, scrubby evergreen trees called ‘lime trees’, which can grow to around 17-feet high. Limes are commonly used as an ingredient in Thai, Vietnamese and Mexican cuisine and grow all-year-round in tropical climates. They are extremely nutritious and versatile, used in food, cosmetics and cleaning products. They are generally around 3 to 6cm in diameter and the juice of just one of these flavorful fruits holds more than 30% of your recommended daily vitamin C intake.
The word ‘lime’ is of Arabic origin, although it is believed the fruit originated in Southeast Asia. Persian and Arab traders are understood to have introduced limes to India and the Middle East, before they were brought to France and Italy by returning 13th century crusaders. Mexico is now the world’s largest producer and consumer of limes.
Despite their size, limes are extremely flavorful and come with plenty of valuable nutrients. The juice of one lime, which is about 67 grams, is made up of 20 calories, 7 grams of carbohydrate, 2 grams of dietary fiber and 32% of your daily recommended vitamin C intake. Vitamin C is fundamental to the body’s connective tissue development, which includes the healing of wounds and blood vessel wall support. Besides vitamin C, there are other important micronutrients in lime juice, in lesser amounts, including magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, and vitamins A and B.
Limes are rich in flavonoids, which are pigments that give plants their color. These flavonoids, which are strong and potent in citrus fruits, act as powerful antioxidants, helping to protect the body from free radicals that can damage healthy cells. The citric acid in sour limes, which gives them their tart taste, also has its nutritional benefits.
In a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, which looked at the antibacterial activity of lime juice against harmful bacteria, scientists found it was effective in decreasing the spread of bad bacteria. Researchers concluded that fresh lime juice may be effective in preventing certain bacterial infections.
Health Benefits Of Limes
Eating all kinds of fruits and vegetables has been associated with increased overall health and a reduced risk of a number of lifestyle-related health conditions. Lime juice, and vitamin C, which is abundantly available in lime juice, are believed to minimize the risk of a number of health problems and ailments, including obesity, diabetes and heart disease, as well as improve the immune system and promote healthy hair and skin.
Like warm lemon water, a glass of warm water with the juice of one lime works as a refreshing antioxidant-rich drink that may aid weight loss. This is because the citric acid in lime juice might be able to help the body burn fat. Lime juice in general is a healthy, weight-conscious option when compared to more common fruit juice choices, such as orange juice, because it provides vitamins with very few calories and sugar. By switching from sweeter, more calorie-dense juices and drink options to lime juice, you can almost trick the body into being satisfied with a flavorful, sweet drink without those extra calories!
2. Limes May Lower The Risk Of Diabetes
Citrus fruits, including limes, are considered ‘super foods’ when it comes to managing diabetes. This is because the high levels of soluble fiber in limes help regulate the body’s sugar absorption into the blood, reducing the risk of a blood sugar spike. This soluble fiber is found in the peel, juice and pulp of limes, meaning the more of the fruit you can consume, the better. Soluble fiber might also help lower blood pressure and reduce ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, which can clog arteries. The low glycemic index of limes also means the fruit will not cause glucose levels to spike unexpectedly.
3. Limes Promote Heart Health
The soluble fiber found in limes, which can help diabetics maintain their blood sugar levels, is also known to eliminate the presence of LDL cholesterol, known as ‘bad cholesterol’, and lower blood pressure. It is also known to cut down on blood vessel inflammation, which can help prevent heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. Limes are rich in vitamin C, which is linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, while low levels of vitamin C in the blood is linked to an increased risk of stroke.
According to a UK study from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, consuming higher amounts of citrus fruits may lower women’s risk of suffering an ischemic stroke. This was one of the first studies to examine the results of consuming flavonoid subclasses, which are found in fruits, vegetables, dark chocolate and red wine, and how they might affect the risk of stroke. In this case, researchers concluded that flavonoids may provide some protection against ischemic stroke by improving blood vessel function and offering an anti-inflammatory effect.
4. Limes Can Help Prevent Asthma
The vitamin C in limes can help prevent asthma and allergies. A number of studies have found vitamin C consumption to have positive effects on pulmonary function tests, decreased respiratory infection, improved white blood cell function and motility, and bronchoprovocation challenges with methacholine, histamine or allergens.
There are a number of natural remedies for reducing asthma and allergy outbreaks and wheezing. One recommendation is to consume a tablespoon of freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice every morning to prevent symptoms from cropping up.
5. Limes Increase Iron Absorption
One of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the developed world is iron, which is a leading cause of anemia. Foods that are high in vitamin C, like lime, can be paired with iron-rich foods to maximize the body’s ability to absorb dietary iron. This can be achieved by drinking lime juice with an iron-rich meal, or by adding lime as an ingredient to a meal with iron-rich food in it. Foods high in iron include red meat, poultry, seafood, beans, and dark green leafy vegetables, like spinach.
Vitamin C is well-known as a powerful immune system booster that can help combat cold and flu germs. Because the immune system is strongly influenced by nutrient intake, a vitamin C deficiency can result in reduced resistance to certain pathogens, while a greater supply can enhance a number of immune system parameters. That’s why fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C are an extremely important part of your diet all-year-round – to help keep your health and immune system in tiptop shape. A glass of warm lime or lemon water every morning is a great way to consistently get a vitamin C boost into your diet.
7. Limes Boost Skin Health
Vitamin C has powerful antioxidant properties, which play an important role in the production of collagen, strengthening the capillaries underneath the skin, and increasing circulation, which can help prevent lines, cellulite and varicose veins. Ascorbic acid has beneficial effects on skin cells, when taken in both dietary and topical form. The juice of one lime, for example, provides 32% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C, which helps build and maintain collagen. Some studies have shown that vitamin C may even prevent and treat ultraviolet-induced photo-damage.
Lime juice and the natural oils from the peel are very beneficial to the skin, whether consumed or applied externally. The antioxidants in lime rejuvenate tired skin and protect it from infections. It can be used as an exfoliator because its acids remove dead skin cells and can help reduce rashes. There are a number of natural skin scrub, bath soak and moisturizer recipes available that use lime as a nourishing, skin-tightening ingredient for a radiant complexion. This DIY mask combines lime and oatmeal to diminish the appearance of skin pigmentation…
8. Limes Promote Healthy Hair
The healing properties in lime juice can be extended to hair health, especially when combined with other natural ingredients. The acid in lime juice can be used to help treat and rid the hair of dandruff. Simply add some lime juice to water and use the solution as a final rinse after washing your hair. You will find the lime will also condition your hair, giving it a healthy, natural shine, while removing excess oils from the scalp. There are a few ways you can add lime into your haircare routine for strong, shiny locks.
Limes can be used in both sweet and savory meals to enhance and adjust the flavor, or add a nice zingy bite. Popular uses include cooking white fish with sliced limes on top or squeezing it on cooked fish and Thai curries. It can be used in herbal tea, as a base in salad dressings and marinades or as a zesty ingredient in desserts. Try these healthy sweet and savory lime recipes to get your dose of vitamin C…
Lime Cilantro Swordfish Kebabs – This is a fantastic barbecue option that is a bit more creative than traditional shrimp or chicken skewers (or steak and hamburgers for that matter!). Swordfish is similar to tuna steak in that it is rather meaty compared to other fish. However, unlike tuna, which actually looks quite like steak, swordfish has a lovely white fish color, and grills beautifully, without sticking. The marinade used in this recipe is quick to whip up and very versatile – the vegetables can be swapped and changed depending on what is seasonal. And there’s nothing better than a tangy, limey fish option at a barbecue to win over your guests!
Grilled Pineapple Lime And Chilli Salad – This quinoa salad is bursting with sweet, spicy and tangy flavors – perfect for a light summer meal. The lime, chilli and olive oil-based dressing complements the sweet pineapple perfectly, and the quinoa gives it the substance it needs to be a satisfying lunch or dinner.
Guacamole – The thing about guacamole is that we often buy it premade and dip salty corn chips in it while sipping on margaritas. So perhaps you don’t think of it as a healthy option. But, on the contrary, guacamole is made from some of the healthiest ingredients on the planet – avocado, lime and garlic, and you don’t need nachos to accompany it. It makes the perfect side to poached chicken and salad, or spread on grainy toast for breakfast or lunch. This guacamole recipe features cilantro, onion and tomato alongside lime, garlic and avocado, for a flavorful, healthy and filling dip.
Lime Cilantro Spinach Smoothie – Anyone who loves cilantro, ginger and lime will love this energizing smoothie that will have you feeling revived, healthy and ready to take on the world! It is a great drink to aid digestion and boost the immune system, and with the avocado and banana, it will keep you nice and full.
Raspberry Lime Chia Oatmeal – This delicious breakfast definitely takes the bland out of oatmeal. Bursting with a beautiful bright, pink color as well as sweet and zesty flavors, it’s the perfect cheerful way to start your day. Oatmeal is a great breakfast option because it doesn’t cause a sugar spike and will keep your full for hours.
Raw Key Lime Tart – We couldn’t have a lime blog without a key lime tart recipe. Unlike the original key lime pie dessert, which is full of traditional unhealthy ingredients like sugar, butter and condensed milk, this recipe is packed full of healthy, wholesome ingredients for a filling, nutritious sweet treat. This dessert takes just 15 minutes to put together, with a nut, coconut and date crust and a creamy lime filling made from cashews, coconut oil, maple syrup, and, of course, limes.