Lime Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Lime, annotated

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Limes, like lemons, are handy for boosting the flavor of a dish while adding few calories and very little fat, sugar, and sodium. Lime juice and zest can be used in salads, soups, dressings, marinades, and dips.

Limes are an excellent source of vitamin C and other nutrients. Since they are typically used in small amounts as a garnish or accent, you are not likely to reap big health benefits from consuming limes. But subbing them for creamy or oily ingredients could help you cut back on fat and calories, if that is a goal.

Lime Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one lime, 2 inches in diameter (67g).

  • Calories: 20
  • Fat: 0.1g
  • Sodium: 1.3mg
  • Carbohydrates: 7.1g
  • Fiber: 1.9g
  • Sugars: 1.1g
  • Protein: 0.5g

Carbs

A whole lime has just 7 grams of carbs, of which about 2 grams are fiber and 1 gram is (naturally occurring) sugar. The juice of one lime (about 1.5 ounces) has no fiber and about half the calories and carbs of a whole lime.

There is no scientific study of the glycemic index of lime juice, as is typical for many non-sugary fruits and non-starchy vegetables. This is because they contain little carbohydrate and aren't expected to have much effect on your blood sugar.

Glycemic load takes into account the amount of food that is eaten and how it affects your blood sugar and insulin response. A value of less than 10 is considered to be low; the glycemic load of a lime or its juice is 1.

Fat

As with most fruits, there is only a trace amount of fat in limes.

Protein

Limes also have only a small amount of protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

Limes and lemons, like all citrus fruits, are an excellent source of vitamin C. Just one lime contains just under 20 milligrams, a third of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C for adults. Vitamin C helps with cell growth and repair, such as wound healing, and supports the immune system. Limes are also a good source of folate, vitamin B6, and potassium.

Health Benefits

While limes do contain healthful phytonutrients, we typically consume them in amounts too small to offer much benefit. Their biggest contribution may be in replacing oil or salt in a dish to cut its overall fat or sodium content.

Fights Oxidative Stress

Limes contain antioxidant compounds, which means they can help cells fight damage caused by free radicals in the body. In turn, this can help prevent chronic diseases and signs of aging.

Increases Iron Absorption

When consumed with iron-rich foods, especially non-animal sources of iron, vitamin C helps the body absorb that iron. This can help people (especially vegans and vegetarians) get sufficient iron in their diet.

Reduces Kidney Stone Risk

Consuming citrus fruits, including limes, can help lower the risk of kidney stones (mineral deposits that form in the kidneys and are very painful to pass in urine). The citric acid in these fruits helps slow or stop the formation of stones.

May Help Treat Malaria

One study found that when given with antimalarial medicines, lime juice helped to eliminate the malaria parasite more quickly. This may be because of the antioxidant properties of vitamin C and other flavonoids in lime juice.

Allergies

While it is not common, it is possible to be allergic to citrus fruits like limes. Some people experience cross-reactions when they have allergies to pollen and/or other fruits or vegetables.

Adverse Effects

Similar to the way grapefruit juice can interact with medications, limes and lime juice may also change the way medicines work. For example, lime juice can increase the toxicity of Tegretol (carbamazepine), a drug primarily used for epilepsy and bipolar disorder.

Varieties

In the U.S., the most common variety of lime is the Persian lime, also called the Tahitian lime. Key limes, from the Florida Keys, are smaller and rounder than Persian limes, with thinner skin. Nutritionally, however, the two are almost identical.

You may also see Kaffir limes in recipes, menus, or prepared foods, often in Thai cuisine. These limes have bumpy skin and a very bitter taste. Usually, just the leaves are used, not the fruit.

When They're Best

Limes peak in the summer, but you can find imported limes in your supermarket year-round. Look for smooth, shiny skin and fruits that feel heavy for their size (but are not too hard).

Storage and Food Safety

Keep whole, uncut limes at room temperature and out of direct sunlight. They will last for about a week. Or keep in the refrigerator for about four weeks, or the freezer for as long as four months. Rinse whole limes before cutting or peeling.

How to Prepare

You can make a quick and healthy sweet and sour lime salad dressing by whisking together lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and sweetener. Or, leave out the sweetener for a tart dressing. You can even forgo the oil and dress greens only with a squeeze of lime juice and seasonings.

A wedge of lime or a squeeze of lime juice in water or seltzer can enliven your glass or provide some taste to good old tap water. Lime juice is the basis of many cocktails, too.

Lime juice makes a good base for marinades for beef or chicken. Save some wedges for a final squeeze over the grilled meat or vegetables before you serve. You'll be adding bright flavor and a good dose of vitamin C. You can also use lime juice to keep bananas, peaches, pears, apples, and avocados from browning when they are exposed to air (and you'll benefit from the extra nutrients, too).

Recipes

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