Limes: Important Facts, Health Benefits, and Recipes

Limes are a versatile and nutrient-rich citrus fruit that can add a tangy twist to a wide variety of dishes and beverages.

What Is a Lime?

The lime is a small, green citrus fruit in the Rutaceae family that grows on trees in warm climates. Limes are loaded with antioxidants and have many health benefits. They are used in many cuisines and recipes from around the world. 

Are Limes Good For You?

Yes! Limes are very good for you as they are a great source of Vitamin C.

9 Health Benefits of Limes

1. Limes are a good source of Vitamin C

  • Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps protect cells from oxidative damage
  • Vitamin C supports the immune system

2. Limes may help reduce inflammation

  • Limes contain antioxidants, which may help reduce inflammation, preventing chronic illnesses like heart disease

3. Limes may help protect against infection

  • The Vitamin C in limes may help protect us from infection and speed up the body’s healing process if we get sick
  • Regularly eating limes or drinking lime water may help prevent the common cold
  • Vitamin C may help increase the production of white blood cells, which fight off infection

4. Limes contain flavonoids

  • Flavonoids are phytochemicals that may have health benefits, such as helping to prevent heart disease and inflammation

5. The Vitamin C in limes may help lower blood pressure

6. The citric acid in limes may prevent kidney stones

  • Citrus fruits have been shown to help people who get kidney stones
  • Citric acid in limes (and lemons) makes it more difficult for kidney stones to form

7. The Vitamin C in limes Increases iron absorption

  • Iron is needed to make red blood cells that transport oxygen throughout our body

8. Limes may promote healthy skin

  • The Vitamin C in limes helps make collagen which keeps our skin firm and strong

  • The antioxidants in Vitamin C can help combat the oxidative stress the sun can put on our skin that causes premature aging

9. Limes may help prevent heart disease

  • Vitamin C may protect against atherosclerosis, when plaque builds up in your arteries making them narrow and hard

History, Background, and General Facts about Limes

  • Limes have varying origins within tropical Southeast Asia and South Asia 
  • Wild limes probably originated in Indonesian or the nearby mainland of Asia 
  • Limes were spread around the world through migration and trade
  • The Persian lime is the most common variety of lime in the US. 
  • The Key lime (or Mexican lime) is a also common variety in the US
  • British sailors were given a daily allowance of citrus, such as lemon or lime during the 19th century to prevent scurvy 
  • Lime is a key ingredient in certain pickles and chutneys in Indian cuisine. South Indian cuisine is heavily based on lime; having either lemon pickle or lime pickle is considered essential for Hindu festivals
  • Lime juice is used to make limeade, and as an ingredient in many cocktails such as gimlets, margaritas, and in gin and tonics. Limeade is a beverage similar to lemonade, but a slightly different flavor
  • Lime juice can be concentrated, dried, frozen, or canned
  • Dried limes are used as a flavoring in Persian cuisine and Iraqi cuisine, and in Middle Eastern baharat (a spice mixture)
  • Lime oil, found in the peel, is used as essential oil for diffusers for aromatherapy, cleaning, perfumes, or drinking

What Are The Cuisines That Regularly Include Limes?

  • Mexican - lime soup, ceviche, guacamole, and garnish for tacos, margaritas
  • Middle Eastern - dried lime in baharat, limonana (lime beverage)
  • Persian - dried lime in soups and stews
  • Iraqi - baharat (spice blend)
  • Thai - tom kha gai (chicken soup) and green papaya salad
  • Vietnamese - pho
  • Indian - pickles and chutney
  • American - Key lime pie, gin and tonic

What Is The Best Way To Store Limes?

Store limes in the refrigerator in a drawer if you don’t plan on using them right away and on the counter if you plan to use them within the week of buying them.

What Are The Different Types Of Limes?

  • Persian lime: (a hybrid of key lime and lemon) is the most widely produced lime in the world and Mexico is the largest producer
  • Key lime or Mexican lime: smaller than Persian with thin skin and juicy
  • Kaffir lime (the fruit and the leaves), or makrut lime
    • Used in Southeast Asian cuisine
    • One of the three most commonly produced limes worldwide
    • One of the earliest citrus fruits introduced to humans
  • Sweet lime: less tart than the Persian lime and commonly cultivated in the Mediterranean region
  • Mandarin lime ( or Rangpur lime) is lemon–mandarin orange hybrid and is commonly used to make marmalade
  • Australian finger limes: look like fingers and have small pieces inside that look like caviar, sometimes called citrus caviar and used in champagne or over oysters
  • Philippine lime: (a kumquat and mandarin hybrid)
  • Limequat (lime and kumquat hybrid)

Toxicity and Side Effects Of Limes

Consuming lemons or limes in moderation is generally safe. Lime juice may cause pain on an open wound like a cut on your lip or on your fingers.


Phytophotodermatitis (aka margarita photodermatitis): when someone’s skin is exposed to lime peel or lime juice followed by exposure to sunlight. It can cause blisters and itchy skin. Bartenders can get it when making a lot of citrus drinks.


The acidity from limes may make heartburn or digestive issues worse in people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).


Citric fruits can erode tooth enamel and cause cavities over time if consumed in large volumes

What Is The Best Substitute For Limes If I Don't Have Any?

If you don't have limes available or need a substitute for them in a recipe, there are a few alternatives you can consider to replicate their acidity and flavor. Here are some options:

  1. Lemons: Lemons are a close substitute for limes in most recipes. They have a similar level of acidity and can provide a tangy flavor. Use lemon juice as a 1:1 substitute for lime juice in recipes. Keep in mind that lemons have a slightly different flavor, so the overall taste of the dish may vary.

  2. Vinegar: Vinegar, such as white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, can be used as a substitute for lime juice in recipes that require acidity. Start by using a small amount and adjust to taste. Vinegar has a different flavor profile, so it may alter the taste of the dish.

  3. Other Citrus Fruits: Other citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits can be used as substitutes for limes, although they will provide a different flavor profile. Oranges are sweeter and less acidic than limes, while grapefruits have a tangy and slightly bitter taste. Adjust the quantities and flavors based on your preference and the specific recipe.

  4. Citric Acid: Citric acid is a natural acid derived from citrus fruits and can be used as a substitute for lime juice to add acidity. It is available in powdered form and can be dissolved in water to make a sour solution. Use it sparingly, as it is highly concentrated.