Lime (fruit)

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For other uses, see Lime (disambiguation).
Limes, raw
Lime fruits, in cross section and whole
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 126 kJ (30 kcal)
10.5 g
Sugars 1.7 g
Dietary fiber 2.8 g
0.2 g
0.7 g
Thiamine (B1)
0.03 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.02 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.2 mg
0.217 mg
Vitamin B6
0.046 mg
Folate (B9)
8 μg
Vitamin C
29.1 mg
Trace metals
33 mg
0.6 mg
6 mg
18 mg
102 mg
2 mg

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Lime (from Arabic and French lim)[1] is a term referring to a citrus fruit which is typically round, green, 3–6 centimetres (1.2–2.4 in) in diameter, and containing sour (acidic) pulp. There are several species of citrus trees whose fruits are called limes, including the Key lime, Persian lime, kaffir lime, and desert lime. Limes are a good source of vitamin C, and are often used to accent the flavours of foods and beverages. They are grown year-round and are usually smaller and less sour than lemons, although varieties may differ in sugar and acidic content.[2]


Limes were first grown[when?] on a large scale in southern Iraq[3] and Persia,[3] and the fruit was first grown commercially in what is today southern Iraq (Babylonia).[3]

To prevent scurvy during the 19th century, British sailors were issued a daily allowance of citrus, such as lemon, and later switched to lime,[4] which was not as effective at preventing the nutritional deficiency disorder but was easier to obtain in Britain's Caribbean colonies (it was later discovered that the greater effectiveness of lemons derived from the four-fold higher quantities of vitamin C contained in lemon juice compared to the West Indian limes used by the British). The use of citrus was initially a closely guarded military secret, as scurvy was a common scourge of various national navies, and the ability to remain at sea for lengthy periods without contracting the disorder was a huge benefit for the military. The British sailor thus acquired the nickname, "Limey" because of their usage of limes.[5]


Lime (Citrus latifolia) cold-pressed essential oil

Lime juice may be squeezed from fresh limes, or purchased in bottles in both unsweetened and sweetened varieties. Lime juice is used to make limeade, and as an ingredient (typically as sour mix) in many cocktails.

Lime extracts and lime essential oils are frequently used in perfumes, cleaning products, and aromatherapy.

In India, the lime is used in Tantra for removing evil spirits. It is also combined with Indian chillies to make a protective charm to repel the evil eye. Furthermore, it was believed that hanging limes over sick people cured them of the illness by repelling evil spirits lurking inside the body. Lime pickles are an integral part of Indian Cuisine. South Indian cuisine is so heavily based on lime that having either lemon pickle or lime pickle is considered a must of Onam Sadhya.


Zesting a lime
Lime and Blossom growing in southern Spain

In cooking, lime is valued both for the acidity of its juice and the floral aroma of its zest. It is a common ingredient in authentic Mexican, Vietnamese and Thai dishes. It is also used for its pickling properties in ceviche. Some guacamole recipes call for lime juice.

The use of dried limes (called black lime or loomi) as a flavouring is typical of 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 used as a herb in South, East, and Southeast Asia. Lime is frequently used to add flavour to cold and hot drinks, including water, tonic and other cocktails.

Key lime gives the character flavouring to the American dessert known as Key lime pie. In Australia, desert lime is used for making marmalade.


Lime is an essential ingredient in several highball cocktails, often based on gin, such as gin and tonic, the gimlet and the Rickey. Freshly squeezed lime juice is also considered a key ingredient in margaritas, although sometimes lemon juice is substituted.

Health effects[edit]

When human skin is exposed to ultraviolet light after lime juice contact, a reaction known as phytophotodermatitis can occur, which can cause darkening of the skin, swelling or blistering. Bartenders handling limes and other citrus fruits when preparing cocktails may develop phytophotodermatitis due to the high concentration of furocoumarins in limes.[6] The main furanocoumarin in limes is lemittin[7]

As compared to lemons, limes contain less vitamin C and carbohydrates per 100 grams.[8][9]

Production trends[edit]

India, with about 16% of the world's overall lemon and lime output, tops the production list, followed by Mexico (~14.5%), Argentina (~10%), Brazil (~8%), and Spain (~7%).

Top ten lemon and lime producers — 2007
Country Production
 India 2,060,000F
 Mexico 1,880,000F
 Argentina 1,260,000F
 Brazil 1,060,000F
 Spain 880,000F
 People's Republic of China 745,100F
 United States 722,000P
 Turkey 706,652P
 Iran 615,000F
 Italy 546,584P
 World 13,032,388A

^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ F = FAO estimate
^ ^ ^ P = Official figure
^ A = Aggregate (may include official, semi-official or estimates)
Source: Food And Agricultural Organization of United Nations: Economic And Social Department: The Statistical Division

Plants known as "lime"[edit]

A hybrid fruit in India

The tree known in Britain as the lime tree (Tilia sp.), called the linden in other dialects of English, is a broadleaf temperate plant unrelated to the Citrus fruits.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Adrian Room (1986). A dictionary of true etymologies. Taylor & Francis. p. 101. 
  2. ^ Rotter, Ben. "Fruit Data: Yield, Sugar, Acidity, Tannin". Improved Winemaking. Retrieved 2014-09-03. 
  3. ^ a b c Raichlen, Steven (August 2, 1992). "Small citruses yield tart juice, aromatic oils, big, fresh taste". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  4. ^ State of knowledge about scurvy
  5. ^ "Limey". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  6. ^ L. Kanerva (2000). Handbook of Occupational Dermatology.. Springer. p. 318. ISBN 978-3-540-64046-2. 
  7. ^ Gorgus E. et. al. Food Chem Toxicol. 2010 Jan;48(1):93-8. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2009.09.021. Epub 2009 Sep 19.
  8. ^ Limes - USDA NDB # 09159
  9. ^ Lemons - USDA NDB # 09150