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.
Lime nutrition facts
Though small, limes are loaded with nutrients — particularly vitamin C.
One whole, medium lime (67 grams) provides:
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.
Health benefits of limes
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.
Limes are high in active compounds that function as antioxidants in your body, including flavonoids, limonoids, kaempferol, quercetin, and ascorbic acid.
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.
In human studies, taking vitamin C helped shorten the duration and severity of colds.
Also, vitamin C could help wounds recover faster by reducing inflammation and stimulating collagen production. Collagen is an essential protein that aids wound repair.
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.
First, they’re high in vitamin C, which is necessary to make collagen, a protein that keeps your skin firm and strong. A medium lime (67 grams) provides over 20% of the RDI for this nutrient.
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.
Citrus fruits like limes are high in citric acid, which may prevent kidney stones by raising levels of citrate and binding stone-forming minerals in the 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.
Low blood iron levels can cause iron deficiency anemia. Signs of iron deficiency anemia include fatigue, trouble breathing during exercise, paleness, and dry skin and hair.
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.
For instance, one study in people following a vegetarian diet found that drinking a glass of lemonade (8.5 ounces or 250 ml) alongside a plant-based meal increased iron absorption by up to 70%
May lower your risk of certain cancers
Cancer is a disease characterized by abnormal cell growth.
Citrus fruits have compounds that have been linked to a lower risk of certain cancers.
In particular, flavonoids — which act as antioxidants — may help stop the expression of genes that promote cancer progression.
What’s more, test-tube studies indicate that citrus fruits may suppress the growth or spread of colon, throat, pancreas, breast, bone marrow, lymphomas, and other cancer cells.
How to use limes
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.
Outside your kitchen, limes are used as a natural cleaning agent and to neutralize odors. Some studies show that they have antimicrobial properties.
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.