Lemons & Limes – Who Knew?

Lemons have been revered by ancient empires, rediscovered by Europeans, became an essential for the British Navy (who used them to fight scurvy), introduced to the New World by Christopher Columbus (in his second voyage in 1493) where they were highly prized with people being prepared to pay up to $1.00 per lemon in 1849.  Wow, that’s even expensive today, so imagine how much in demand they must have been.


A good question.  We take the availability of lemons and limes for granted. They are so readily available we don’t give them much thought.  Sure they taste great on fish, but what’s the big deal?


The big deal is the wonderful health benefits of these citrus fruits.  Lemons were created by crossing limes with the citron thousands of years ago. Lemons were cultivated in China and India, Alexander the Great is said to have introduced them to Greece (and on to the Roman Empire)  from where they became a luxury food.

What are some of the benefits of Lemon and limes?

As the British Navy discovered Lemons and Limes have medicinal properties.  Even if they didn’t realize the reason was the Vitamin C, they worked out that adding lemon juice to the sailors’ rum rations dramatically reduced deaths from scurvy.

Lemons and limes contain unique bioflavonoids which are know to have powerful antioxidant, antibiotic and anti-cancer properties.  The power of the antibiotic effects of limes was shown by the result of adding lime juice to the main meal of villagers in West Africa as a protection against the cholera bacteria (Vibrio cholera).  Other healing properties of lemon and limes include:-

  • Their ability to influence cell cycles in humans – cells decide whether to die (apoptosis) or divide (mitosis).
  • Beneficial effects on immune cells called monocytes
  • Of course, Lemons and Limes are an excellent source of Vitamin C – an essential antioxidant –  neutralizing free radicals which damage cells and cause inflammation.
  • A very long lasting antioxidant called limonin is know to remain active in the body for up to 24 hours. This extended period of bioavailiablity is one reason why citrus limonoids are such potent anti-carninogens.
  • Protection from free radicals and improving the function of the immune system is vital for protecting blood vessels and reducing cholesterol build up.
  • The Archives of Opthamology reported in June 2004 that data from a study revealed that eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration. This is the primary cause of loss of vision in oder adults.  The study involved 77,562 women and 40,866 men  was conducted over 18 years for women and 12 years for men.

Including lemon and lime juice in your diet is an easy and delicious way of adding a serving of fruit.

Serving suggestions:-

  • Squeeze over cooked rice for a tangy taste.
  • Add  salad dressings
  • Squeeze over meat – great with steak and lamb.
  • Of course Lemon and Limes are perfect with fish.
  • Squeeze over vegetables.
  • Add to water for the perfect detoxifying drink.
  • Lemon and limes are also perfect to add to dessert dishes like pies.

Make sure you include lemons and limes in your diet every day.