Health benefits of lime

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

Health benefits of limes in a basket.
  1. Bernard Preston
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  3. Health benefits of lime

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 so-called ‘anti-frailty’ vitamins, and limonin. At least 50% of the goodies are contained in the pulp, so don’t strain the juice.

By Bernard Preston

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 diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Limonin gives limes and lemons their bitter taste; many people don’t like that bitterness so sadly researchers are developing citrus varieties that are low in limonin; then we won’t get the protection needed against these nasty diseases. We’ve been hoodwinked into thinking we need only eat those foods that are to the likings of our tastebuds.

The British sailors were called limeys after an inspired fleet doctor discovered that limes would prevent the sailors in the armadas from dying from scurvy; far more sailors, an estimated two million, succumbed to the deficiency than were ever killed in armed conflict. It’s assumed that it was the vitamin C in limes that was totally responsible for saving many lives, but the other active ingredients like limonin 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 I’ve 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.

Health benefits of lime

Pressing limes using an electric juicer.

Health benefits of lime are what gave the British sailors their name; scurvy killed at least two million of them whilst sailing on 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 them.

Use an electric juicer (it’s arduous by hand) to squeeze the juice out of your 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 this year; more important we have a steady supply of the juice that is so essential for sparkling good health, and plenty of energy. We have no sleepless nights worrying whether we might get Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. A healthy microbiome in the colon is also vital, by the way, which is why we enjoy kefir several times a week. It’s these little things that make for well-being. 

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 the amazing trees. The season is considerably longer than that of lemons which is another benefit.

Freezing lime juice.

Rheumatoid arthritis

More health benefits of limes include a much lower incidence of rheumatoid arthritis. The vitamin C is a natural anti-oxidant that scientists have found neutralise 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 no pain. The joints are swollen and disfigured but with no disabling pain; she can garden 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, the cholesterol that is considered dangerous by many authorities, though there are doubts.

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 phytochemical 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 limonene is found.

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