Limes add zest to your recipes and make a great garnish for your drinks—and who doesn’t love a slice of key lime pie now and then? But there’s a lot more to this familiar citrus fruit than you know. Limes are anything but ordinary. They’re loaded with antioxidants, including vitamin C, and offer plenty of other healthful benefits.
So, you may want to give that slice of lime a promotion from the rim of your glass, because it’s good for a lot more! Let’s talk about the benefits of lime and lime water, plus a few lime recipes to try, which are great for Cinco de Mayo parties and events year-round.
Benefits of Limes and Lime Juice
Limes are a nutritional powerhouse, especially when it comes to antioxidants. A single lime can give you 32% of the daily recommended amount of the antioxidant vitamin C, and lime juice contains loads of other antioxidants too, including healthy phytochemicals like flavonoids, flavones and others that play important roles in maintaining wellness.1,2 But the benefits don’t stop there! Limes are also a source of many other nutrients, including vitamins and minerals. Check out the lime benefits and nutritional details below.
- Great source of antioxidants3,4
- Supports heart health1,2
- Helps promote skin health and fights signs of aging2
- Supports digestive health2
- Boosts immune health5
- Supports metabolism and weight loss2
- Provides nourishment for healthy kidneys6
- Helps your body absorb iron5
- May support joint health2
Lime Water Benefits
The easiest way to get the benefits of lime in your diet every day is to squeeze some lime juice into your water. Limes are easy to keep on hand. You can toss a few in your lunch bag to squeeze into your water at work, or juice a few in advance and refrigerate the juice to use throughout the day. No matter how you do it, you’re sure to get the benefits of lime in a convenient way while making your daily H2O that much more fun and flavorful. You can also combine lime with other fruit flavors to make your own water infusions.
Lime Nutrition and Types of Limes
There are several varieties of limes and the nutritional values of each type can vary, but the most common type of lime found in US supermarkets is the Tahitian lime. That doesn’t mean they’re grown in Tahiti though. It just means that the strain of lime is thought to have originated from Tahiti.7
To make things just a little more confusing, there are two types of Tahitian limes grown in the US—Persian limes, which are grown in Florida, and Bearss limes, which are grown in California. Persian limes tend to be bigger and less acidic than the Bearss variety.7
Other types of limes you may find in grocery stores include Key limes and Kaffir limes. Key limes are a favorite for pies and are most frequently imported from Mexico, though they were grown commercially in Florida at one time. Kaffir limes are available in some specialty stores but can be difficult to find. Kaffir limes are small, round, tart limes used in Southeast Asian cooking.4
Nutrition in Limes and Lime Juice
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), an average lime that is 2” in diameter contains:
- 59.13 grams of water
- 20 calories
- 0.47 gram of protein
- 7 grams of carbohydrates
- 1.9 grams of fiber
- 1.13 grams of sugars
- vitamin C (19.5 mg)
- vitamin A (34 mg)
- iron (.4 mg)
- potassium (68.3 mg)
Limes also contain small amounts of the following vitamins and minerals: calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, folate, vitamin B-12, vitamin E, vitamin D, and vitamin K.
That’s a lot of nutritional variety for a tiny fruit!
How Much Lime Juice in One Lime?
An average 2” lime yields 44 grams of juice, and that juice contains the same vitamins and minerals as limes, but with only 11 calories. That is almost half the calories you’d get from consuming the whole fruit. Some limes are larger than others, but on average that should equate to about 2 to 3 tablespoons of juice per lime.
We recommend juicing your limes yourself, but you can also buy organic lime juice that is not from concentrate to keep on hand. Juices that have not been processed or pasteurized don’t usually have a lengthy shelf life though, so it’s often easier just to keep a bowl of limes in the refrigerator to have a fresh splash of juice available any time. Limes are also extremely portable, so you can toss a few in your bag to use on the go.
Lime Juice Benefits
Most people don’t eat whole limes in the same way they would some other citrus fruits like oranges, so there’s a good chance you’ll want to get most of your lime nutrition from juice. Either way you do it, you stand to gain a long list of benefits from lime. And speaking of that list of benefits, here it is.
Lime Health Benefits
Antioxidants in Limes
Limes contain many antioxidant nutrients, including vitamin C, flavonoids, flavones, triterpenoid, and limonoids. Limonoids are phytonutrients that research has shown to have significant benefits for overall health and wellbeing.3 Although limonoids are as abundant in citrus fruits as vitamin C, unlike vitamin C, limonoids are not currently available as a supplement. Limonoid-containing “citrus molasses” can be used to fortify foods, but it’s currently only used in food for animals.4 So, for now, fresh citrus fruits are the best way to get your daily dose of limonoids.
Lime Nutrition for Heart Health
The antioxidants in lime are good for your heart too. Antioxidants help promote the health of arteries and the circulatory system.1 Since arteries are responsible for carrying blood to and from your heart and other organs, keeping them healthy plays an important role in heart health.1
Limes are also a source of magnesium and potassium, two nutrients that support heart health. Potassium supports blood health and circulation and magnesium is essential to keep muscles working properly, plus limonoids in limes may promote healthy blood lipid levels.2
Skin Benefits of Lime
The nutrients and antioxidants in limes help rejuvenate skin and strengthen collagen.2 Vitamin C nourishes skin cells inside and out and may even help fight signs of skin aging.5 Hydration is also important to keeping skin healthy, and adding lime to your water is a tasty way to hydrate and revitalize healthy skin.2
Some people also use the essential oil of Kaffir lime in skin tonics to help smooth skin quality, but be cautious when using essential oils on your skin and never apply lime directly to the skin.1 Read the product label and choose an essential oil product that is formulated for use on the skin. Lime products applied topically may make your skin more sensitive to the sun.
Lime for Digestive Support
The acidity in lime may help break down food so you can digest it more easily, plus the flavonoids in limes stimulate digestive juices, and may even stimulate bowel activity.2 Drinking some water with lime on an empty stomach in the morning may help kick start your digestive system too. Also, try drinking a glass of warm water with the juice of a whole lime about thirty minutes before a meal to aid digestion.2 You may be less likely to overeat if you drink warm lime water before a meal.
Immune System Booster
The vitamin C and antioxidants provided by limes may help give your immune system a healthy boost. Vitamin C is needed by the all the tissues of your body for growth and repair and it’s involved in many important functions, including immune function and helping protect cells from free radicals.5
Limes and Weight Loss
The citric acid in limes may help kick up your metabolism so you burn more calories, and if you get your lime nutrition by drinking lime water, that’s even better.2 Staying hydrated is an excellent way to help you maintain a healthy weight. It’s easy to mistake thirst for hunger, so if you’re hydrated, you may be less likely to eat without actually being hungry.
Lime for Kidney Health
Adding limes or lemons to your diet may help promote kidney health, since citric acid may boost urinary citrate and urine volume.6 And of course, water is great for your kidneys too, so add some lime to your next glass of water to help give your kidneys, and your whole body, a welcome health boost.
Lime and Nutrient Absorption
Vitamin C plays a beneficial role in the absorption of iron, which is essential for your body’s production of blood and for hemoglobin. Low levels of iron can cause a host of health concerns.9 Since vitamin C can increase the amount of iron you absorb from the foods you eat when eaten together, lime is an excellent addition to recipes that contain iron-rich ingredients like spinach and red meats.5
Lime for Healthy Joints
Vitamin C and other antioxidants in limes may also help support the health of your joints and promote joint flexibility, and limes may help reduce uric acid levels in the body.2 If you’re looking for support for healthy joints, learn about Glucosamine Benefits and MSM Benefits for Joint Health & Beyond.
Aside from adding lime to your water, there are endless uses for lime juice and lime zest in your recipes. Lime is a common ingredient in ethnic cuisines like Mexican, Vietnamese and Thai, but it’s also great for adding zing to seafood dishes, smoothies and desserts. Lime pairs well with the following flavors:
Lime Recipes to Try
Lime Water Infusion Recipes
Fruit infused water is super easy to make. Just add slices of any combination of the fruits above to an infusion bottle or reusable water bottle and fill it up with filtered water for a delicious flavor infusion. It will taste even better if you let it stay in the fridge overnight, or squeeze in some extra lime juice when you refill your bottle throughout the day. Try a water infusion with lime and cherries for a healthy take on cherry limeade. You could even add a natural sweetener, like agave or honey.
For more water infusion ideas, read Infused Water Benefits, Plus Water Infusions to Try.
Chicken Marinade with Lime
Make this simple lime marinade for crowd-pleasing, flavorful grilled chicken. Mix 4 tablespoons of lime juice with 2 cloves of minced garlic, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons of brown sugar or agave (optional), 1 tablespoon of Swanson certified organic extra virgin olive oil, and 2 tablespoons of cilantro. Marinate in the refrigerator for 45 minutes up to 8 hours before cooking, depending on how much flavor you want!
Lime Salad Dressing
This lime vinaigrette is so simple and delicious. Plus, when you make your own dressing you know exactly what’s in it! You get pure flavor and no surprises. Just combine 2 tablespoons of lime juice with a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, ½ teaspoon of garlic powder, and 1/8 tsp ground cumin, plus salt and pepper to taste.
More recipes from Swanson Health:
And of course, use lime as a garnish for your favorite drinks, but don’t forget to squeeze the juice into your cup before you’re done to get the benefits!
What is Lime Good for Beyond the Kitchen?
Aromatherapy Essential Oil
Lime essential oil is stimulating and refreshing. The invigorating essence of lime has been used throughout the ages as an adjunct to respiratory function and energy.
Lime Oil as an Insect Repellant
Using lime essential oil in an oil diffuser may also help ward off insects.
Naturally Cleansing & Refreshing Your Home
Make your own natural cleaning products with lime essential oil and other natural ingredients, like baking soda and apple cider vinegar. See the article Your Home Guide for Natural Household Cleaning Tip for more ideas.
Lime Juice vs. Lemon Juice
Lemons and limes have different flavor profiles and colors, but they do have some similarities. They both supply vitamin C and antioxidants. They even have a similar shape, although most limes tend to be smaller. However, lemons provide almost double the vitamin C of limes (depending on the size of the lemon vs lime), and lemons have higher levels of vitamin B6 and folate too. So, lemons are also a great choice for citrus nutrition, but nature gave us so many options for a reason! It’s a good idea to get a variety of real foods in your diet and eat a wide range of fruits and vegetables of all colors because they are all important to maintain balanced nutrition.
Are Limes Good for You?
With lime water becoming a trending topic, it’s only natural to wonder if lime is truly good for you. For most people, limes are generally safe and provide plenty of healthy benefits. So, unless you have a citrus fruit allergy, adding limes or lime juice to your water is a low-calorie way to pack in some extra nutrients and get flavorful hydration every day.
How do you use limes? Share your favorite lime recipes below, and learn more about the benefits of eating a diet rich in real foods in Real Food: A Revival or a Revolution? and Pack Your Pantry: How to Make a Real Food Pantry.
1 8 Healthy Lime Facts. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/8-healthy-lime-facts#1 (Accessed 04/30/2018)
2 8 Benefits of Lime Water for Health and Weight Loss https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/lime-water-benefits#1 (Accessed 04/30/2018)
3 The Chemistry and Pharmacology of Citrus Limonoids. PubMed. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27845763 (Accessed 04/30/2018)
4 Citrus Compound: Ready To Help Your Body! United States Department of Agriculture. https://agresearchmag.ars.usda.gov/2005/feb/citrus (Accessed 04/30/2018)
5 The Benefits of Vitamin C. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/the-benefits-of-vitamin-c (Accessed 04/30/2018)
6 Lemonade therapy increases urinary citrate and urine volumes in patients with recurrent calcium oxalate stone formation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17919696/ (Accessed 04/30/2018)
7 Types of Lemons and Limes. Berkeley Wellness. University of California. http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/food/article/types-lemons-and-limes (Accessed 04/30/2018)
8 Limes, Raw. Nutrient Database. United States Department of Agriculture. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/301159?fg=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=25&offset=&sort=default&order=asc&qlookup=lime%2C+raw&ds=SR&qt=&qp=&qa=&qn=&q=&ing= (Accessed 04/30/2018)
9 What You Need to Know About Iron Supplements. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/features/iron-supplements#1 (Accessed 04/30/2018)