Limes: Health Benefits, Nutritional Information
LIMES are a citrus fruit often used to ac cent flavors in foods and are a common ingredient in Mexican, Vietnamese and Thai cuisine. They are grown year-round in tropical climates and are usually smaller and less sour than lemons. The Tahitian lime, also called the Persian lime, is the variety most commonly used in cooking. Key limes are smaller, rounder and more acidic than Tahitian limes and are used in the classic dessert Key Lime pie.
It is a misconception that key limes are grown in Key West, FL. They are primarily grown in subtropical climates such as Mexico, India and Egypt.1 This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods. It provides a nutritional breakdown of limes and an in-depth look at its possible health benefits, how to incorporate more limes into your diet and any potential health risks of consuming limes.
According to the US Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database, the juice of one lime (approximately 44 grams) contains 11 calories, 4 grams of carbohydrate (including 1 gram of sugar and 0 grams of fiber) and 0 grams of protein as well as 22% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C. One teaspoon of lime zest (approximately 1 gram) contains 1 calorie and 4% of recommended vitamin C.
Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions. Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like limes decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and overall mortality while promoting a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy and overall lower weight. Vitamin C has been shown to reduce all-cause mortality.2 Limes are a very concentrated source of vitamin C, a well-known antioxidant.
In a study published by the ARYA Atherosclerosis journal, lime juice and peel was shown to decrease fatty streaks found in coronary arteries, which are indicators of plaque buildup and subsequently cardiovascular disease.3 A different study showed that low vitamin C levels are associated with increased risk of stroke.4 Lime juice has antibacterial and antifungal properties.5 A study published by Tropical Medicine & International Health showed that lime juice inhibited the growth of Vibrio cholerae specifically.6
The risks for developing asthma are lower in people who consume a high amount of certain nutrients. One of these nutrients is vitamin C, found in many fruits and vegetables including limes. Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in developed countries and a leading cause of anemia. Pairing foods that are high in vitamin C with foods that are iron-rich will maximize the body’s ability to absorb iron. For example, squeeze fresh lime juice onto a salad with spinach and chickpeas (both a good source of iron).