Lime: Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

The health benefits of lime are numerous which include weight loss, improved digestion, reduced respiratory disorders, enhanced immunity, and relief from constipation. Lime can also be used in the treatment of scurvy, piles, peptic ulcer, gout, and gums. It also aids in skin care, hair care, and eye care.

What is Lime?

Lime (Citrus aurantifolia) is a small, round, green-color hybrid citrus fruit. Due to its acidic sour juice and unique aroma, the lime fruit is widely used in various cuisines to accent flavor. It is a common ingredient in Mexican, Vietnamese, and Thai cuisine. There are several species of citrus fruits referred to as limes that include key lime, kaffir lime, wild lime, desert lime, and Persian lime.

This zesty, tropical fruit is well-known for its medicinal properties for ages. Lime finds its application in cosmetic and health products, too. Extracted from the lime’s peel or skin, the lime essential oil is extensively used in aromatherapy and perfumes.

Watch Video: 8 Great Benefits Of Lime

8 Amazing Benefits Of Lime For Your Overall Health | Organic Facts

Nutrition Facts

Limes, raw
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]88.26
Energy [kcal]30
Energy [kJ]126
Protein [g]0.7
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.2
Ash [g]0.3
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]10.54
Fiber, total dietary [g]2.8
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]1.69
Calcium, Ca [mg]33
Iron, Fe [mg]0.6
Magnesium, Mg [mg]6
Phosphorus, P [mg]18
Potassium, K [mg]102
Sodium, Na [mg]2
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.11
Copper, Cu [mg]0.07
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.01
Selenium, Se [µg]0.4
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]29.1
Thiamin [mg]0.03
Riboflavin [mg]0.02
Niacin [mg]0.2
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.22
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.04
Folate, total [µg]8
Folate, food [µg]8
Folate, DFE [µg]8
Choline, total [mg]5.1
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]2
Carotene, beta [µg]30
Vitamin A, IU [IU]50
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.22
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]0.6
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.02
14:0 [g]0
16:0 [g]0.02
18:0 [g]0
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.02
16:1 [g]0
18:1 [g]0.02
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.06
18:2 [g]0.04
18:3 [g]0.02
Tryptophan [g]0
Lysine [g]0.01
Methionine [g]0
Sources include : USDA

Lime Nutrition

Predominantly known for its ascorbic acid reserves, lime provides 32 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C. It has high water content and important vitamins and minerals like magnesium and potassium, as well as vitamins like folate, vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin K.

The best thing about limes is that they are low in calories, carbohydrates, and fats. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, a single serving (67 g) of lime provides 20 kcal of energy. Moreover, lime peel and pulp are rich in dietary fiber, antioxidants, flavonol glycosides like kaempferol, as well as diverse phytochemicals like polyphenols, limonene, and terpenes.

Health Benefits of Lime

Let’s take a look at some of the health benefits in detail:

Skin Care

Lime juice contains healthy acids and helps remove dead cells when applied to the skin. It builds collagen, rejuvenates the skin, and improves overall texture.

Vitamin C protects the skin from infections as well as cures rashes, acne, pimples, bruises, and blemishes, as per a study in the journal Nutrition flavonoids contained in limes also inhibit microbial growth, which helps prevent gum bleeding.

It helps fight skin damage caused due to sun, dust, and pollution. Its antioxidant and astringent properties can help reduce wrinkles, diminish dark spots, skin tan, and open pores. You can create a refreshing bathing experience by just adding this juice to your bath. Moreover, it may also help reduce body odor.

For ages, the use of lime has been a well-known cure for scurvy, a disease caused by vitamin C deficiency. It is characterized by frequent infections that show normal cold symptoms, cracked lips, and lip corners.

Aids in Digestion

Limes have an irresistible aroma that aids primary digestion (the digestive saliva floods your mouth even before you taste it). While they break down the macromolecules of the food, the flavonoids stimulate the digestive system and increase the secretion of digestive juices, bile, and acids. This also stimulates peristaltic motion which moves the food throughout the intestine.

The amount of acid present in lime helps clear the excretory system. The roughage in lime may aid in providing relief from constipation. An overdose of its juice with salt also acts as an excellent purgative without any side effects, thereby relieving constipation.

Note: This is the reason behind lemon pickle being consumed along with lunch and dinner in India, and various neighboring countries. Also, drinking a glass of warm lime water about 30 minutes before meals can help prevent heartburn or acid reflux symptoms.

Fights Infections

Consuming lime protects the body against various microbes, viruses, and bacteria including Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and Salmonella bacteria infections.

Aids Weight Loss

A 2010 animal study conducted showed that lime essential oils prevented weight gain and excess food consumption. Moreover, the citric acid present in lime is also an excellent fat burner. A glass of lukewarm water with lime can be effective as an excellent weight reducer.

How to use: Consume two glasses of warm water with lime juice a day to reap benefits in a few days.

Manages Blood Sugar

The high levels of soluble fiber found in lime make it effective and regulate the body’s absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. This helps reduce the risk of blood sugar spikes that are a serious risk to people with diabetes.

Also, limes and other citrus fruits have a low glycemic index, which implies zero significant or unexpected spikes in glucose levels. This is why the American Diabetes Association considers citrus fruits such as limes a superfood for diabetes.

Juicy limes-sliced and whole, on a wooden table

When life gives you limes and lemons, use them to make your cocktails tangy! Photo Credit: Shutterstock

May Help Prevent Heart Diseases

A study led by Dr. Frank Hu, professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School, suggests that foods rich in vitamin C have a protective effect against coronary heart disease. Additionally, soluble fiber and limonin found in limes help lower blood pressure. This helps reduce the inflammation of the blood vessels and further aids in reducing the risk of heart diseases. Also, potassium and magnesium in limes improves blood circulation and boosts heart health.

Vitamin C in lime juice and lime peels may help lower ischemic stroke risks, according to an animal study published in the journal ARYA Atherosclerosis. It also helps slow down the progression of coronary heart diseases like atherosclerosis by decreasing fatty streaks in arteries.

Hesperidin, a flavonoid present in lime, helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the body which is another heart-healthy benefit.

Relieves Inflammation

Citrus fruits have anti-inflammatory properties and can be used for several inflammatory issues.

One of the many causes of arthritis is an excess build-up of uric acid in the body. The citric acid found in limes is a solvent in which uric acid can dissolve. Increasing citric acid in the body helps eliminate excess uric acid from the urine.

Prevents Kidney Stone

The citric acid in fresh or concentrated lime juice helps remove and prevent kidney stones by increasing urinary citrate and urine volume, according to a 2014 study in the Korean Journal of Urology. 

Another study showed that consuming lemonade for nearly four years decreased kidney stone formation from an average of one stone per year down to just 0.13 per year.

Health benefits of lime infographic

Lime is a small, round, green-color hybrid citrus fruit. Due to its acidic sour juice and unique aroma, it is widely used in various cuisines to accent flavor.

Boosts Immunity

Lime strengthens the body’s line of defense and helps ward off infections and diseases like malaria, diarrhea, and pneumonia. Also, vitamin C in the citrus fruit helps to battle coughs and colds and boosts the body’s overall immunity. This is confirmed by a series of studies including a 2017 research in the journal Nutrients.

Increases Iron Absorption

Vitamin C in lime when paired with foods rich in ironhelps maximize the body’s ability to absorb iron. Additionally, those suffering from iron-deficiency anemia symptoms like – dizziness, brittle nails, hair loss, and fatigue may consider adding lime to their diet.

Heals Peptic Ulcer

In addition to vitamin C, lime contains special compounds called flavonoids (limonoids such as limonin glucoside), which have antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, antibiotic, and detoxifying properties. The acids in lime react with the gastric juices of the stomach resulting in alkaline reactions. The flavonoids and the alkaline reaction collectively stimulate the healing process of peptic and oral ulcers.

Relief from Respiratory Disorders

The flavonoid-rich oil that is extracted from limes is extensively used in anti-congestive medicines such as balms, vaporizers, and inhalers due to the presence of kaempferol. Just scratching the peel of a lime and inhaling it gives immediate relief from nasal congestion and nausea.

Other benefits

Other benefits include:

  • Alleviates Fever: Citrus fruits, in general, have fever-reducing qualities because of vitamin C found in high concentrations, which naturally lowers the temperature of the body.
  • Provides relief from Gout: There are two main causes of gout. The first source is the accumulation of free radicals and the second is the accumulation of toxins in the body, primarily uric acid. Limes can help prevent both of the causes, due to the presence of abundant antioxidants, vitamin C, and flavonoids.
  • Relief from Piles: Since lime helps heal ulcers and wounds in the digestive and excretory system (while providing relief from constipation) it may also remove some of the root causes of piles. Piles are a different term for hemorrhoids, an uncomfortable condition that occurs in the anal region, and can result in bleeding and discomfort during excretion. It can help prevent their formation or recurrence.
  • Defends against Cholera: The flavonol glycosides in lime have antibiotic properties that protect the body against various bacteria and microbes including Vibrio cholera, according to a study conducted in West Africa. Also, regular intake of lime juice by patients exposed to cholera-infected water may reduce the symptoms of this fatal disease.
  • Help with Urinary Disorders: The high potassium content in limes is very effective in the removal of toxic substances and the precipitates deposited in the kidneys and the urinary bladder. The disinfectant properties of lime also help cure infections in the urinary system. Furthermore, it stops prostrate growth (very common in males above 40) and clears blockage of urine caused due to the buildup of calcium in the urinary tract.
  • Hair Care: Applying lime juice to the scalp has tremendous benefits like shiny, healthy, and dandruff-free hair and scalp. Apply lime juice to your hair and expose it to sunlight for an hour. Then, rinse it. This will make your hair 2-3 shades lighter in color.
  • Boosts Women’s Health: Calcium and folate present in it are two important nutrients for women in menopausal and child-bearing age.

What is Lime Used For?

Limes have many surprising medicinal, culinary, and cosmetic uses. Some are as follows:

  • Culinary Uses: Lime juice adds a tart flavor to soups, salads, vegetables, and baked foods. Squeezing some lime juice onto roasted chicken or pan-fried white fish can add a tangy taste to it. It is also widely used in the preparation of desserts, pickles, jams, jellies, snacks, and candies.
  • Cleansing Agent: It can easily increase the cleansing properties of any facial cleanser or shampoo by merely adding 2-3 drops.
  • Aromatherapy & Perfumes: Lime essential oil is used in aromatherapy and perfumes for its fragrance and its stimulating effect on the body and mind.
  • Beverages: It is a favorite ingredient when it comes to cocktails, sorbets, and fresh beverages.
  • Cosmetic Products: It is used in cosmetic products like body oil, hair oil, toothpaste, beauty soap, disinfectant, mouthwash, and deodorant.
  • Medicinal Uses: Because of their antibacterial, antiseptic, and disinfectant properties, the peel, oil, and juice of the fruit have medicinal uses. It is also used in making anti-congestion medicines and to treat severe diarrhea.

How Much Juice is in a Lime?

One pound consists of 5 limes. On average, one lime contains 2 tablespoons of lime juice present in it. One whole lime also has 2 teaspoons of lime zest in it. So, if a recipe asks for the juice of 1 lime, you can substitute it with 2 tablespoons of bottled lime juice.

Side Effects

Although limes do not have major side effects, excessive intake may cause some issues like:

  • Skin allergy: Itchiness, redness, and swelling.
  • Citrus fruit allergy: Nausea, abdominal pain, wheezing, repeated vomiting.
  • Eroded enamel: Over-consumption may erode the tooth enamel and increase its sensitivity due to the high amount of citric acid.
  • Phytophotodermatitis: In some cases, applying the lime juice to the skin directly may increase skin sensitivity to UV rays, resulting in phytophotodermatitis.

Note: It is important to wash the outer peel of limes even if you do not plan to use it as the peel usually has bacterial deposits. These may get transferred inside the fruit if kept unwashed.

Other than that add this zesty fruit to your diet and enjoy all its nutrition!

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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