Limes are sour, round, and bright green citrus fruits.
They’re nutritional powerhouses — high in vitamin C, antioxidants, and other nutrients.
There are many species of limes like the Key lime (Citrus aurantifolia), Persian lime (Citrus latifolia), desert lime (Citrus glauca) and kaffir lime (Citrus hystrix).
Each of these species has unique characteristics. For instance, the Key lime is smaller, more acidic, and more aromatic than the more common Persian type.
In the United States, Persian limes are the most commonly available type.
Because limes are loaded with nutrients, they may help boost your immunity, reduce heart disease risk factors, prevent kidney stones, aid iron absorption, and promote healthy skin.
This article provides an overview of the nutritional benefits of limes, as well as their uses and potential side effects.
Though small, limes are loaded with nutrients — particularly vitamin C.
One whole, medium lime (67 grams) provides (
- Calories: 20
- Carbs: 7 grams
- Protein: 0.5 grams
- Fat: 0.1 grams
- Fiber: 1.9 grams
- Vitamin C: 22% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Iron: 2% of the RDI
- Calcium: 2%% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 2% of the RDI
- Thiamine: 2% of the RDI
- Potassium: 1% of the RDI
Limes also contain small amounts of riboflavin, niacin, folate, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Limes are high in vitamin C, providing over 20% of your daily needs. They also contain small amounts of iron, calcium, vitamin B6, thiamine, potassium, and more.
Eating lime fruit or drinking lime juice provides a variety of health benefits.
Good source of antioxidants
Antioxidants are important compounds that defend your cells against molecules called free radicals. In high amounts, free radicals can damage your cells, and this damage has been linked to chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and many types of cancer (
May boost immunity
Limes are high in vitamin C, a nutrient that may help boost your immune system.
In test-tube studies, vitamin C helped increase the production of white blood cells, which help protect your body against infections and disease (
Besides vitamin C, limes are also a great source of antioxidants, which help strengthen your immune system by defending cells against free radical damage (
Could promote healthy skin
Limes have several properties that may promote healthy skin.
For instance, one study in over 4,000 women found that those who ate more vitamin C had a lower risk of wrinkles and dry skin as they aged (
Second, limes are high in antioxidants, which may help combat age-related skin changes.
Oxidative stress is a condition resulting from an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body. It can lead to signs of premature aging.
A mouse study found that drinking a citrus drink positively affected some of these signs by reducing wrinkles and increasing collagen production, for example (
May reduce heart disease risk
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide (
Research shows that limes may reduce several heart disease risk factors.
For starters, limes are high in vitamin C, which may help lower high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease (
Also, vitamin C may protect against atherosclerosis — a disease in which plaque builds up in your arteries, making them too narrow (
An animal study found that feeding rabbits lime peels and juice helped slow down the progression of atherosclerosis (
May prevent kidney stones
Kidney stones are small mineral crystals that are often painful to pass.
They can form inside your kidneys when your urine is very concentrated or when you have high levels of stone-forming minerals, such as calcium, in your urine (
One study found that people who ate more citrus fruits had a significantly lower risk of kidney stones (
Increases iron absorption
Iron is an essential nutrient needed to make red blood cells and transport oxygen around your body.
People on a vegan or vegetarian diet are at a greater risk of iron deficiency anemia, as plant-based products contain a form of iron that isn’t as well absorbed as the iron from meat and other animal products (
Foods high in vitamin C, such as limes, may help prevent iron deficiency anemia by improving the absorption of iron from plant-based foods.
May lower your risk of certain cancers
Cancer is a disease characterized by abnormal cell growth.
In particular, flavonoids — which act as antioxidants — may help stop the expression of genes that promote cancer progression (
Limes may help improve immunity, reduce heart disease risk factors, prevent kidney stones, aid iron absorption, promote healthy skin, and lower your risk of certain cancers.
There are endless ways to use limes inside and outside your kitchen.
They’re valued for their juice and the floral aroma of their zest — which is one reason why they’re considered a staple ingredient in Southeast Asian and Mexican cuisine.
In other parts of the world — like India — limes are often pickled to increase their shelf life and then added to dishes for a flavor boost.
Lime zest and juice are common ingredients in desserts and baked goods, such as Key lime pie, cookies, and ice cream.
This citrus fruit can also be used in savory dishes and to add flavor to both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
Lime juice can be mixed with vinegar and water and used as a surface spray for a non-toxic cleaning option.
Limes are available at grocery stores — often found next to lemons and other citrus fruits. Choose the citrus fruits that feel heavy for their size, are bright in color, and have minimal discoloration.
There are endless ways to use limes inside and outside your kitchen. They add flavor and zest to your meals and can be used as a natural cleaning agent.
Limes are generally safe to consume with little to no side effects.
However, if you’re allergic to other citrus fruits, avoid limes as they can cause food allergy symptoms, such as swelling, hives, and breathing difficulties. If this occurs, seek medical help immediately.
Additionally, some people may experience acid reflux from eating limes or drinking the juice due to its acidity. Other digestive symptoms may include heartburn, nausea, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.
Limes are very acidic and best enjoyed in moderation. Eating many limes can increase your risk of cavities, as the acid in limes — and other citrus fruits — can erode tooth enamel (
To protect your teeth, be sure to rinse your mouth with plain water after eating limes or drinking the juice.
Limes are generally safe to eat, drink, and touch, but some people may have an adverse reaction to eating them or applying them to their skin.
Limes are high in vitamin C and antioxidants — both of which may offer health benefits.
Eating limes or drinking the juice may improve immunity, reduce heart disease risk factors, prevent kidney stones, aid iron absorption, and promote healthy skin.
Avoid limes if you’re allergic to citrus fruit.Still, for most people, these citrus fruits are a healthy and versatile addition to a balanced diet — so try incorporating limes into your recipes to reap their impressive health benefits.