Between 1795 and 1815, some 1.6 million gallons of lime juice drastically reduced the mortality rate of sailors. Along with their daily ration of rum, British sailors were required to consume a daily ration of lime juice, so British sailors became known as limeys. The introduction of limes to the United States began in the 16th century when Spanish Explorers brought the West Indies lime to the Florida Keys, beginning the advent of Key limes. There are two general varieties of sour limes available, the Tahitian and the Key. Among Tahitian limes are the egg-shaped Persian and the smaller, seedless Bearss. Key limes, famous for the pie bearing their name, are smaller and more acidic than the Tahitian variety. Limes contain unique flavonoid compounds that have antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. These flavonoids have been shown to stop cell division in many cancer cell lines, they are perhaps most interesting for their antibiotic effects. In West Africa where Cholera epidemics had occurred, the inclusion of lime juice during the main meal of the day was determined to have been protective against the contraction of Cholera.
In addition to their unique phytonutrient properties, limes are an excellent source of vitamin C, one of the most important antioxidants in nature. Vitamin C is one of the main antioxidants found in food and the primary water-soluble antioxidant in the body. Vitamin C travels through the body neutralizing any free radicals with which it comes into contact both inside and outside cells. Free radicals can interact with the healthy cells of the body, damaging them and their membranes, and also cause a lot of inflammation, or painful swelling, in the body. This is one of the reasons that vitamin C has been shown to be helpful for reducing some of the symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. FYI vitamin C-rich foods, such as limes, provide humans with protection against inflammatory polyarthritis, a form of rheumatoid arthritis involving two or more joints. These findings, presented in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases were drawn from a study of more than 20,000 subjects. Not only that subjects who consumed the lowest amounts of vitamin C-rich foods were more than three times more likely to develop arthritis than those who consumed the highest amounts.
Now you know if you’ve been keeping up on this blog, free radicals can damage blood vessels and can change cholesterol to make it more likely to build up in artery walls. Vitamin C in limes can be helpful for preventing the development and progression of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. Vitamin C is also vital to the function of a strong immune system. The immune system’s main goal is to protect you from illness, so a little extra vitamin C may be useful in conditions like colds, and flu. The disease-fighting compounds found in limes, are known as limonoids. According to the U.S. Agricultural Research Service, your body can readily absorb and use a specific, long-acting limonoid called limonin. Limes contain almost as much limonin as they do vitamin C. This compound, in a culture study, published in “Nutrition and Cancer” in 2001, as well as in laboratory studies on human and animals cells, as noted in a June 2003 article in the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry,” has been shown to induce cancer cell death and may be particularly beneficial for protecting against cancers of the skin, breast, mouth, lung, colon and stomach. Limonin’s bioavailability and persistence may help explain why citrus limonoids are potent anti-carcinogens that may prevent cancerous cells from proliferating. Other natural anti-carcinogens are available for much less time. For example, the phenols in green tea and chocolate remain active in the body for just 4 to 6 hours.
A 50g (slightly less than 1/4 cup) of lime juice, provides 15 mg of vitamin C 25% of the recommended daily value. A 50g serving of fresh lime juice contains only 15 calories and is fat and sodium free, but provides an enormous amount of flavor. Just add it to your water bottle for the day. It will turn plain water into a calorie-free, tasty thirst-quencher. Use lime on salads, freshly grilled fish or vegetables, shellfish and other foods in place of high-calorie, trans-fat flavor enhancers. In addition to calories and trans-fat, (hydrogenated oils) other flavor enhancers may be high in sodium, and sugar exacerbating high blood pressure. Because lime juice is acidic, you can also use it to tenderize lean cuts of beef, or as a diet-friendly, heart-friendly marinade ingredient. One of my favorites is black beans with fresh lime juice squeezed over them, also:
- Lime juice and oil are very beneficial for skin. It rejuvenates the skin, keeps it shining, protects it from infections and reduces body odor,with it’s aroma
- Limes aid in the digestion process, the acids stimulate the digestives system and increase secretion of digestive juices.
- Limes are a great way to stay hydrated and refreshed. Mixing a glass of ice water and the juice from a full lime is healthy thirst quencher.
- Limes can be used a disinfectant and antiseptic.
- Limes are a great way of treating constipation, urinary disorders, and even gout.
- Lime juice on the skin also repels insects.
- Lime juice is an excellent weight reducer, and anti -oxidant drink. The citric acid present in lime is an excellent fat burner.
- Limes anti-oxidant properties protect eyes from aging and macular degeneration.
Choose limes that are firm and heavy for their size, free of decay and mold. They should have a glossy skin that is deep green in color, limes turn more yellow as they ripen. Limes can be kept out at room temperature where they will stay fresh for up to one week after picking. Make sure to keep them away from sunlight exposure since it will cause them to turn yellow, and ruin the flavor. Limes can be stored in the refrigerator crisper, wrapped in a loosely sealed plastic bag, where they will keep fresh for about 10-14 days. Conventionally grown lemons and limes may be waxed to protect them from bruising during shipping. Since you may not be able to determine the source of these waxes, this is another good reason to choose organically grown limes. So next time you are drinking a glass of water, put a lime in it and give your body the vitamin C it needs. Good Luck…
Now it is the weekend, and I always feel obligated to help my readers relax. So with haste I must represent my very favorite way to get more limes in my diet with one of my all time favorites; the Tanqueray and Tonic with a Lime garnish…Enjoy!