What is Lime?
There is a high difficulty of accurately identifying the different species of fruits called Lime. This difficulty increases because of the botanical complexity of the citrus genus, which the lime plant mostly belongs to. Species of this genus crossbreed easily. It is only recently that genetic studies have begun to shed light on the structure of the genus. Most of the cultivated species of limes are hybrids, from lemon (Citrus medica), tangerine (Citrus reticulata), grapefruit (Citrus maxima).
Lime is a citrus fruit, usually round, green, 3 to 6 centimeters in diameter and containing vesicles of acidic juice. Limes are a rich source of vitamin C, they are antioxidants, acidic and are often used to accentuate the flavors of foods and beverages. They grow all year round.
Classification and Types
Furthermore, Limes belong to the Rue family (Rutaceae). They grow widely and extensively in tropical and subtropical regions. However, there are several species of limes like the Key lime (Citrus aurantifolia), Persian lime (Citrus latifolia), Desert lime (Citrus glauca) and Kaffir lime (Citrus hystrix), Australian limes (former Microcitrus and Eremocitrus), Australian finger lime (Citrus australasica), Australian lime (Citrus australis), Blood lime (red finger lime), Musk lime, Rangpur lime, Spanish lime, Sweet lime, Wild lime, Limequat. It is noteworthy that each species of lime has unique features and characteristics. The most commonly available type of lime in the United States is the Persian Lime.
The tree rarely reaches more than 5 meters (16 feet) high and, if not pruned, becomes arid. Its branches open out and are irregular. Furthermore, they have short and rigid branches, small leaves and numerous small and sharp spines. Additionally, the evergreen leaves are pale green and the small white flowers are usually in groups.
The fruit generally has a diameter of approximately 3cm to 4 cm (1 to 1.5 inches). They are oval to almost globular, often with a small apical nipple. Additionally, the skin is thin and greenish-yellow when the fruit is ripe.
The pulp is tender, juicy, yellowish green and acidic. They exceed lemons in terms of acid and sugar content. However, some varieties lack so much citric acid, hence these varieties are called sweet lime. These sweet limes grow to a greater degree in Egypt and some other tropical countries.
Wild limes are probably native to the Indonesian archipelago or the neighboring Asian continent. Arab traders may have taken limes, as well as lemons, from India to the Eastern Mediterranean countries and Africa around 1000 AD. Returning Crusaders in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries began introducing the fruits in the western Mediterranean countries. On his second trip in 1493, Christopher Columbus brought citrus seeds to the West Indies, probably including lime, and trees quickly spread throughout the West Indies, Mexico, and Florida. They grow to some extent in virtually all citrus-producing regions. The fruits contain vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and were once used in the British navy to combat scurvy, hence the nickname “limey”.
Nutritional Value of Lime
A whole and medium lime which is an average of 67 grams provide:
- Energy: 126 kJ (30 kcal)
- Calories: 20
- Carbohydrates: 7 grams
- Protein: 0.5 grams
- Fat: 0.1 grams
- Fiber: 1.9 grams
- Vitamin C: 22% of the daily reference intake (IDR)
- Iron: 2% of the IDR
- Calcium: 2 %% of the IDR
- Vitamin B6: 2% of RDI
- Thiamine: 2% of the RDI
- Niacin (B3): 1%
- Pantothenic acid (B5): 4%
- Vitamin B6: 4%
- Folate (B9): 2%
- Potassium: 1% of RDI
- Magnesium: 2%
- Sugars: 1.7 g
Water: 88.3 g
They also contain small amounts of riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Benefits of Lime
Limes contain a lot of rich nutrients. These nutrients found in them can help increase immunity, reduce risk factors for heart disease, prevent kidney stones, promote iron absorption and promote very healthy skin. The consumption of Lime fruit or juice provides many health benefits. Below are some of them;
Good source of antioxidants
Antioxidants are important compounds that defend your cells against molecules called free radicals. In large quantities, free radicals can damage your cells, and these damages are associated with chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and many types of cancer.
Limes are rich in active compounds that act as antioxidants in your body, including flavonoids, limonoids, kaempferol, quercetin, and ascorbic acid. hence, reducing problems like diabetes and heart diseases.
It can improve immunity
Limes are rich in vitamin C, a nutrient that can help strengthen your immune system.
In test-tube studies, vitamin C has helped increase white blood cell production, which helps protect your body against infections and diseases.
In human studies, taking vitamin C has helped shorten the duration and severity of colds.
Also, Vitamin C can facilitate the faster healing of wounds by reducing inflammation and stimulating collagen production. Collagen is an essential protein for wound repair.
It could promote healthy skin
Limes have several properties that can promote healthy skin.
Firstly, they are rich in vitamin C, which is necessary to produce collagen, a protein that keeps the skin firm and strong. The medium lime (67 grams) provides more than 20% of the RDI of this nutrient.
For example, a study of more than 4,000 women found that those who consumed more vitamin C had a lower risk of wrinkles and dry skin as they age.
Secondly, limes are rich in antioxidants, which can help fight skin changes associated with aging.
Oxidative stress is a condition resulting from an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body. This can lead to signs of premature aging.
A study in mice found that drinking a citrus drink had a positive effect on some of these signs by reducing wrinkles and increasing collagen production, for example.
It can reduce the risk of heart disease.
Studies have shown that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the world.
Research shows that limes can reduce several risk factors for heart disease.
For starters, they are rich in vitamin C, which can help reduce high blood pressure, an important risk factor for heart disease.
Besides, vitamin C can protect against atherosclerosis, a disease in which plaque builds up in the arteries, making them too narrow.
It can prevent kidney stones.
Kidney stones are small mineral crystals that are often difficult to transmit. They can form in the kidneys when the urine has high concentration or when it has high levels of stones, such as calcium, in the urine.
Citrus fruits, such as limes, are rich in citric acid, which can prevent kidney stones by increasing citrate levels and joining minerals that form stones in the urine.
For instance, one study found that people who ate more citrus had a significantly lower risk of kidney stones
Increase iron absorption
Iron is an essential nutrient necessary to produce red blood cells and transport oxygen in the body.
Low levels of iron in the blood can cause iron-deficiency anemia. Signs of iron deficiency anemia include shortness of breath during exercise, fatigue, paleness and dry skin and hair.
People who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet have a higher risk of iron deficiency anemia because herbal products contain a less absorbed form of iron than iron in meat and other animal products.
Vitamin C-rich foods, such as limes, can help prevent iron deficiency anemia by improving iron absorption from plant-based foods.
For example, a study of people on a vegetarian diet found that drinking a glass of lemonade (8.5 ounces or 250 ml) along with an herbal meal increased iron absorption to 70%.
It can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.
Cancer is a disease that has to do with abnormal cell growth.
Citrus fruits have compounds that have been associated with a lower risk of certain types of cancer.
In particular, flavonoids, which act as antioxidants, can help stop the expression of genes that promote cancer progression.
In addition, sample studies indicate that citrus fruits can inhibit the growth or spread of the colon, throat, pancreas, breasts, bone marrow, lymphoma, and other cancer cells.
The fruit is a key ingredient in some pickles and spicy sauces. Some drinks, foods and confectionery products contain its flavoring. The juice can be concentrated, dried, frozen or canned. Lime citrate and citric acid are also prepared from the fruit. Limeade and other drinks with lime flavor have a distinct taste and aroma from those of lemon. Lime oil, from the fruit peel, is mainly processed in the West Indies.
Several other related plants commonly called limes and are used in the same way. The fruits and leaves of Kaffir lime, or makrut lime (C. hystrix), add a special flavor to Southeast Asian cuisines and are sometimes used in perfumery. Sweet lime (C. limetta), which is less acidic than Persian lime, grows commonly in the Mediterranean region. The Mandarin lime, which is also known as Rangpur lime (C. × limonia), is considered a hybrid of tangerine and lemon. In the same way, it is commonly used to make marmalades. Finger limes (C. australasica), which are native to Australia, are a growing crop known for its discrete juice vesicles, sometimes called “lime caviar.”
How to use Limes
There are countless ways to use lime inside and outside your kitchen.
Firstly, their juice and the floral aroma of their zest has great value, one of the reasons why they are constantly being put into consideration as a staple ingredient of Mexican and Southeast Asian cuisine.
In other parts of the world, such as India, limes are often marinated to extend their shelf life and then added to dishes to give them more flavor.
Equally, Zest and lime juice are common ingredients in desserts and confectionery goods, such as lime pie, cookies, and ice cream.
In the same way, these lime can also be used in savory dishes and to flavor alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
However, outside your kitchen, limes are used as a natural cleaning agent and to neutralize odors. Some studies show that they have antimicrobial properties.
Again, Lime juice can be mixed with vinegar and water and used as a surface sprayer for a non-toxic cleaning option.
Potential Side Effects of Lime
Limes are generally safe for consumption with little or no side effects.
However, if you are allergic to other citrus fruits, avoid lime, which can cause symptoms of food allergy, such as swelling, hives, and difficulty in breathing. If this happens, consult a doctor immediately.
In addition, some people may suffer from acid reflux by eating lime or drinking lime juice because of its acidity.
Other digestive symptoms may include heartburn, nausea, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.
The limes are very acidic and can be best enjoyed in moderation. Consumption of many limes can increase the risk of cavities because the acid they contain can erode tooth enamel.
To protect your teeth, be sure to rinse your mouth with clean water after eating lime or drinking Lime juice.
In some cases, applying lime directly to your skin may make it more sensitive to the sun’s UV rays and cause inflammation. This is known as phytophotodermatitis.
Summary and Recommendations
Limes are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, which can have beneficial effects on health.
Eating limes or drinking Lime juice can improve immunity, reduce risk factors for heart disease, prevent kidney stones, help iron absorption and promote healthy skin.
Avoid limes if you are allergic to citrus fruits. Nevertheless, for most people, these citrus fruits are a healthy and versatile supplement to a balanced diet. So try incorporating lime into your recipes for impressive health benefits.
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