EN on Foods

February 2018 Issue

Simply Sub-Lime!

The Folklore

Tiny as they are, limes play it large when it comes to culinary prowess and versatility around the globe. Just think of Thai coconut-lime stir-fry, Mexican ceviche, and American key lime pie. This smallest of the citrus fruits is native to Southeast Asia and is thought to have come via Christopher Columbus to the New World. Centuries later, limes were used by British sailors to prevent scurvy on long voyages, earning them the moniker “limey.” Lime’s bright, acidic flavor partners perfectly with its powerful punch of healthy phytonutrients to make this fruit absolutely sublime.


Nipaporn Panyacharoen | Dreamstime.com

Limes contain nutrients linked with disease protection.

The Facts

There are many species of citrus called limes, including these three most widely produced: Persian lime (Citrus latifolia), Key lime (Citrus aurantifolia), and Kaffir lime (Citrus hystrix). Persian limes are the most common in U.S. supermarkets, known to be tart and juicy. Limes are one to two inches in diameter, green or green-yellow, round or oval, and sour or sweet (sweet varieties aren’t common in the U.S.). Just one lime packs 32% DV (Daily Value, based on 2,000 calories per day) of cell protecting antioxidant vitamin C, 8% DV of dietary fiber, and several plant compounds, including limonoids and flavonoids, known for their antioxidant and antibiotic effects.

The Findings

Limes are an excellent source of antioxidant vitamin C, which has been shown in studies to shorten and alleviate symptoms of the common cold in physically active people, and provide significant effects against pneumonia and other infections, though more research is needed (Nutrients, 2017). Preliminary research shows that fresh lime juice and peel may play an important role in preventing or slowing the process of atherosclerosis (ARYA Atherosclerosis, 2013). Citrus fruits, like limes, are rich in the compound limonin, which is easily digestible and has shown progress in fighting several cancers and for cancer chemoprevention (Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 2014).

The Finer Points

Deep green, smooth, and glossy skin indicate fresh, flavorful limes. Most lime varieties are harvested year round, but peak season is May through October. Store limes at room temperature up to a week, or refrigerate up to two weeks. Limes enliven most any recipe. Try them in marinades, salad dressings, beverages, desserts—and there’s no finer finish than a squeeze of lime and a curl of zest to make a dish pop. Be sure to freeze a stash of freshly squeezed juice and zest for a convenient menu pick-me-up!

Notable Nutrients: Limes

1 fruit (67 g), raw
- Calories: 20
- Dietary Fiber: 2 g (8% DV)
- Vitamin C: 20 mg (32% DV)

Note: g=gram, mg=milligram, DV=Daily Value, based on 2,000 calories/day

Chili Lime Roasted Sweet Potatoes Recipe

chili potatoes

- 4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into -inch slices
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1⁄4 tsp salt (optional)
- 3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice (about 3 limes)

1. Preheat oven to 425F.
2. In a large bowl, toss sweet potatoes with oil. Sprinkle with chili powder and salt, and toss to coat well.
3. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Lay out sweet potatoes evenly in one layer.
4. Roast for 35–40 minutes. Transfer potatoes to a serving bowl, and drizzle with freshly squeezed lime juice.

Makes 6 servings

Nutrition Information Per Serving: 137 calories, 3 grams (g) fat, 27 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 
5 g dietary fiber, 153 milligrams sodium, 9 g sugar.

Recipe adapted courtesy Sunkist Growers