Limes (Citrus aurantifolia) are a small citrus fruit whose skin and flesh are green in color and which have an oval or round shape with a diameter between one to two inches. Limes can either be sour or sweet. Sour limes possess a greater sugar and citric acid content than lemons and feature an acidic and tart taste, while sweet limes lack citric acid content and are sweet in flavor. Lime is called in different names like the nimbu in Hindi, nimmakaaya in Telugu, yelemchangai in Tamil etc.
Tahitian and the Key are two general varieties of sour limes available. Tahitian limes are the egg-shaped Persian and the smaller, seedless Bearss whereas Key limes, famous for the pie bearing their name, are smaller and more acidic than the Tahitian.
Lemons scientifically known as Citrus limon are oval in shape and feature a yellow, texturized outer peel. Like other citrus fruits, their inner flesh is encased in segments, with the average lemon having eight to ten. Most lemons are tart, acidic and astringent, they are also surprisingly refreshing. Eureka and the Lisbon are the two main types of sour lemons. The Eureka generally has more texturized skin, a short neck at one end and a few seeds, while the Lisbon has smoother skin, no neck and is generally seedless. In addition to these sour lemons, there are also some varieties that are sweet in flavor.
Limes are grown on trees in tropical and subtropical climates and said to be originated in Southeast Asia. Around the 10th century Arab traders brought lime trees back from their journey to Asia and introduced them into Egypt and Northern Africa and in the 13th century the Arabian Moors brought them to Spain and then like many other fruits they were spread throughout southern Europe during the Crusades. While Columbus was on his second voyage in 1493, limes made their way to the New World and were subsequently planted in many Caribbean countries whose hot, humid climates supported the cultivation of this fruit. Centuries later, British explorers and traders, who were readily using the vitamin C-rich limes that grew in their West Indies colonies to prevent scurvy, earned the nickname “limey,” a word that is often still used colloquially for persons of British descent.
In the 16th century limes were introduced to the United States when Spanish explorers brought the West Indies lime to the Florida Keys, beginning the advent of Key limes. In the following century, Spanish missionaries attempted to plant lime trees in California, but the climate did not support their growth. During the California Gold Rush as a fruit that was known to prevent scurvy, limes began to be imported from Tahiti and Mexico at this time in the mid-19th century. Today, Brazil, Mexico and the United States are among the leading commercial producers of limes. Lemons were originally developed as a cross between the lime and the citron and are thought to have originated in China or India, having been cultivated in these regions for about 2,500 years. Lime and lemons are both are available throughout the year, lemons are in the peak of their season around May, June and August while limes are at their peak from May through October. Sour limes contain citric acid giving them an acidic and tart taste, while sweet limes lack citric acid and are sweeter in flavor.
In citrus fruits, limonin is present in the form of limonin glucoside, in which limonin is attached to a sugar (glucose) molecule. Our bodies easily digest this compound, cleaving off the sugar and releasing limonin. Lime is used for many culinary purposes as being diluted and sweetened and made into a drink, being used as a garnish for drinks, and used for flavoring for desserts, condiments, salad dressings, meats, and vegetables. The extracts and essential oils are used in cleaning products and perfumes, among other uses.
The most commonly available limes are the small yellower key lime and larger greener Persian lime. “Key lime” is an American retronym, as the original fruit known in English as a “lime” was Citrus aurantifolia, derived from the Persian name limu (the fruit was introduced to Europe during the Crusades). Astringent citrus, such as limes and lemons, are generally not eaten on their own. Both limes and lemons are regularly served as limeade or lemonade by diluting the juices of these fruits and adding sugar. Lemons and limes are also used as garnishes for drinks such as iced tea or a soft drink, with a thin slice of the fruit or corkscrew strip of the peel (twist). Alcoholic beverages prepared with limes include cocktails such as gin and tonic, margarita, mojito, and Cuba libre. The customary consumption of tequila is in shots that are accompanied by lime wedges and salt. Beer is often served with limes in Mexico, as well as some other countries. Lime juice is also used in commercial soft drinks.
Lemons and limes are used as an ingredient in a variety of dishes and their juice can commonly be found in salad dressings and squeezed over cooked meat or vegetables. In cooking, lime is valued both for the acidity of its juice and the floral aroma of its zest (the outer, colorful skin of citrus fruit). In India, the lime juice is used in the popular lemon rice which is normally offered to the god as prasadam. Lime juice is also used in making the delicious lime rasam which is very good for digestion. Limes are used popularly in the south India for preparing the pickles. Lime pickle is a popular dish all over the world. Lime extracts and essential oils are frequently used in perfumes, cleaning products, and aromatherapy.
Lime is consumed in many ways that include sorbets, beverages, refreshing drinks, pickles, jams, jellies, snacks, candies, sugar boiled confectionaries and culinary and the oil extracted from its peel or skin is extensively used in soft drink concentrates, body oils, cosmetics, hair oils, tooth pastes, toilet and beauty soaps, disinfectants, mouth washes, deodorants and innumerable other products all over the world.
In cooking, lime is valued both for the acidity of its juice and the floral aroma of its zest. It is also used for its pickling properties. Dried limes (called black lime or loomi), is used as a flavoring typical to Persian cuisine and Iraqi cuisine, as well as in Gulf-style baharat (a spice mixture that is also called kabsa or kebsa). Lime is an essential ingredient of any cuisine from India, and many varieties of pickles are made, e.g. sweetened lime pickle, salted pickle, and lime chutney. Lime leaves are also a herb in South, East, and Southeast Asia. Lime is frequently used to add flavor to cold drinks, including water, gin and tonic and other cocktails. Lime soda is very popular and common drink has during the hot summer that quenches the thirst.
Lemons and 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 in the aqueous environments in the body 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.
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, flu’s, and recurrent ear infections. Lime extracts and essential oils are frequently used in perfumes, cleaning products, and aromatherapy. In India, lime is used in Tantra for removing evil spirits. It is also combined with Indian chilis to make a protective charm to repel the evil eye. The health benefits of lime include weight loss, skin care, good digestion, relief from constipation, eye care, and treatment of scurvy, piles, peptic ulcer, respiratory disorders, gout, gums, urinary disorders, etc. Lime juice and its oil are very beneficial for skin when consumed orally or applied externally. It rejuvenates the skin, keeps it shining, protects it from infections and reduces body odor due to presence of a large amount of vitamin-C and Flavonoids.
A glass of warm water with a full-lime juice in it is an excellent weight reducer as well as a brilliant refresher and anti oxidant drink. The citric acid present in lime is an excellent fat burner. Just have two glasses a day and see the remarkable result within a week. It is a good appetizer and digestive. It helps cure arthritis, rheumatism, prostrate and colon cancer, cholera, arteriosclerosis, diabetes, fatigue, heart diseases and even very high fever (in contrary to popular belief). The best part of it is that it has no side effects.
The nutritional values per 100g of raw lime are:
Energy: 126 kJ (30 kcal)
Carbohydrates: 11 g
Sugars: 1.7 g
Dietary fiber: 3 g
Fat: 0.2 g
Protein: 0.7 g
Water: 88 g
Vitamin C: 29 mg