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.
1. Limes May Decrease The Risk Of Obesity
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.
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