Color Me Raw! The Health Benefits of Lemons and Limes

LEMONS OR LIMES…YOU DECIDE

Although lemons and limes may not be what you would choose for an afternoon snack, they are considered powerhouses when bringing out the flavor of other foods. While 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.

While most lemons are tart, acidic and astringent, they are also surprisingly refreshing. The two main types of sour lemons are the Eureka and the Lisbon. 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. One notable example is the Meyer lemon that is becoming more popular in both markets and restaurants.

There are several varieties of this small green citrus fruit…limes, but we will discuss two of the limes that are popular in the US: the Tahitian/Persian lime and the Key lime. The most common (and widely-available) is the Tahitian/Persian lime, which is about the size of a small lemon with thin green skin. The Key lime is much smaller, more acidic, and has a strong, citrusy aroma. Key limes have thinner skin, which tends to be yellow-green, or completely yellow when ripe.

What are some of the similarities of lemons and limes?

• Both are excellent sources of vitamin C and vitamin A, folic acid, flavonoids and antioxidants.

• Both lemons and limes are high in potassium. Potassium is an important mineral that works with sodium for smooth electrical transmission in the brain and nervous system. Depression, anxiety, fogginess, and forgetfulness can often be traced to low potassium blood levels. The nervous system needs potassium to assure steady signals to the heart. So your heart health is improved from the lemon and lime water's potassium.

• Both lemons and limes contain many flavonoid compounds that have anti-cancer properties.

• Both contain compounds called limonoids, potent anti-carcinogens that are believed to help prevent the spread of cancer.