Health benefits of lime

Health benefits of lime are due in part to the vitamin C and a phytochemical called limonin.

The old adage is, when moving into a new home, make sure there is a lemon tree planted in the garden; to which I would add a lime. There are subtle differences in taste and nutrition, but both are rich in vitamin C, one of the four anti-frailty vitamins, plus this special phytochemical.

At least 50 percent of the goodies are contained in the pulp, so do not strain out the juice from the solids.

Health benefits of limes in a basket.
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This page was last updated by Bernard Preston on 8th February, 2020.

Limonin is a particularly interesting phytochemical that researchers are investigating; it has been strongly associated with preventing the glutamate toxicity which is central in causing the neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Limonin gives them their bitter taste; many people do not like that, so sadly researchers are developing citrus varieties that are low in the phytochemical; then we will not get the protection needed against these nasty diseases.

We have been hoodwinked into thinking we need only eat those foods that are to the liking of our taste-buds.

The British sailors were called limeys after an inspired fleet doctor discovered that they would prevent the crew in the armadas from dying from scurvy.

Far more sailors, an estimated two million, succumbed to the deficiency of vitamin C than were ever killed in armed conflict.

It is assumed that it was the vitamin C in the limes that was totally responsible for saving many lives, but the other active ingredients certainly also played their part.

Today not many people die of frank scurvy, but the more subtle symptoms of a mild vitamin C deficiency are fatigue, lethargy and malaise.

Those abound but of course there are many other causes of these subjective symptoms.

So, I hope to have convinced you that citrus needs to be daily on the menu, and limes and lemons are the best source.

At our green home we have both, but I favour the lime as our variety at least has no pips. But how do you get to enjoy them year-round? The concentrate is loaded with preservatives and horrible beyond belief.

Benefits of lime

Pressing limes using an electric juicer.

The benefits of lime are what gave the British sailors their name; scurvy killed at least two million of them whilst exploring the high seas.

Our eight-year old tree produces literally hundreds of limes every year, but the season is restricted to perhaps four or five months. So we freeze the juice.

Use an electric juicer since it is arduous by hand to squeeze the juice out of twenty or more limes and lemons; without the strainer. Pour it into ice-cube trays and when frozen, pop them into clear plastic bags, seal and return to the freezer.

It takes about half an hour to process 50 limes.

At around R4 per lemon or lime, we have had over R1000 worth of fruit hangin on our tree this year; more important we have a steady supply of the juice that is so essential for sparkling well-being, and plenty of energy. We have no sleepless nights worrying whether we might get Alzheimer’s or another of the neurodegenerative diseases[3].

A healthy microbiome in the colon is also vital, by the way, which is why we enjoy kefir several times a week. It is these little things that make for reaching eighty with all your marbles and joints intact a little more certain. 

A glut of limes

A glut of limes is one of the many benefits of those who have a small garden where they can plant one of these amazing trees. The season is considerably longer than that of lemons which is another benefit.

Freezing lime juice.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Another benefit of limes is a much lower incidence of rheumatoid arthritis. The vitamin C is a natural anti-oxidant that scientists have found neutralises the free radicals that damage our cell membranes, causing inflammation.

In our family's case, Helen clearly has rheumatoid arthritis in her hands and feet but interestingly has little pain. The joints are swollen and disfigured but with no disabling ache; she can garden almost without restriction, including weeding which is very hard on the fingers.

Cholesterol

Our livers produce a protein molecule called Apo-B that acts as a carrier of low density lipoproteins. That is the cholesterol that is considered dangerous by many authorities, though there are doubts; there are different sizes.

In any event, one of the benefits of limes is that the limonin reduces the production of Apo-B, thus reducing the LDL concentration in the blood.

Tumours

Researchers have found that the phytochemicals in limes and lemons help prevent the proliferation of tumour cells by increasing the levels of nitric oxide[2].

Take home

Clearly the health benefits of lime and lemon are vast, far beyond the scope of a short blog like this; the take-home is simply that we should all be enjoying these citrus foods on a regular basis.

Remember to consume some of the zest where much of the limonin is found. My favourite kitchen utensils will be of assistance.

2. Limonene exerts antiproliferative effects and increases nitric oxide levels on a lymphoma cell line by dual mechanism of the ERK pathway: relationship with oxidative stress.

3. Limonoids from Dictamnus dasycarpus Protect Against Glutamate-induced Toxicity in Primary Cultured Rat Cortical Cells.

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