Lime refers to both to a plant, Citrus aurantofolia, as well as the fruit that it produces. Lime nutrition can be an important part of a healthy, balanced diet, as limes – like other citrus fruits – are good sources of vitamin C, flavonoids, potassium, folate, and citrate.
There are a number of important lime health benefits. Historically, one of the most important lime health benefits was the prevention of scurvy; the widespread use of limes by the British navy led to the use of the colloquial term “limey” to describe British sailors. While limes do contain vitamin C, they contain far less of it than do lemons or oranges. In addition to its role in the prevention of scurvy, vitamin C has numerous other health benefits, including enhancement of gastrointestinal absorption of vitamin C, reductions in blood histamine levels, improvement in psychological and physiological stress response, and powerful antioxidant activity that is useful in the prevention of cancer. The citrate present in limes is beneficial in reducing the formation of kidney stones, although it should be kept in mind that lemons are the most important dietary source of citrate among the citrus fruits. Potassium and folate play integral roles in the maintenance of general health, and folate in particular is of special importance in ensuring healthy birth outcomes in pregnant women.
The flavonoids present in citrus fruits, including lime, have a potent antioxidant action that is complementary to that of vitamin C. Adding limes to your diet – either as is (if you can handle it!) or as an ingredient in various foods and drinks – is an excellent option for improving your overall health.