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Understanding Free Radicals and Their Impact on the Liver

Limes Are Sublime for Liver Health


Try this! Lemon’s close cousin, the lime is a great culinary ingredient for supporting liver wellness.

Small, green citrus fruits that are known for their tart flavor profile, limes are beneficial to the liver’s health. Although frequently associated with taco condiments, tequila shots, Key lime pie and green popsicles, limes are actually nutritional powerhouses.

Lime’s nutrients can aid many parts of the body – including the liver. Whether intending to prevent liver illness from developing or stopping liver disease’s progression, the incorporation of freshly squeezed lime juice into food and drink constitutes a valid liver maintenance strategy.

Limey Origin

Historically, the lime’s high Vitamin C content is well documented. In the 1600s and 1700s, scurvy (a potentially fatal disease caused by Vitamin C deficiency) was a big problem for sailors. Many ships fell to scurvy until a British doctor in the 1700s discovered that limes (and other high Vitamin C citrus fruits) prevented this crippling illness. Following Dr. James Lind’s discovery, limes were always taken on British ships and contributed to Britain’s success in the sea trade. Since then, sailors from Britain were known as Limeys.

The Value of Vitamin C

Many liver detoxification approaches value limes because of their high Vitamin C content: one lime has an estimated 19.5 mg of Vitamin C. Making sure there is adequate Vitamin C in the diet is standard liver-detox program protocol. This is because Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals – essentially stopping the damage free radicals can cause to the body’s tissues and organs (including the liver). Therefore, Vitamin C can scavenge inflammatory substances in the blood which will prevent damage to liver cells.


In addition to its Vitamin C content, limes are anti-carcinogenic. The limonoid compounds in limes have been shown to prevent cancers of the colon, stomach and blood. Though the exact mechanism is unknown and liver cancer has not yet been included in this list, scientists have also observed that limonoids cause cancer cell death.

Lime limonoids are ideal because they appear to stay active longer in the bloodstream, defusing more free radicals than green tea or dark chocolate. For those living with chronic liver disease, all efforts to prevent toxins that the liver is unable to remove from causing damage and potentially causing cancer are welcome.

Limes Aid Digestion

The flavonoids in limes are also beneficial to digestion, another way to assist liver health. Lime’s flavonoids stimulate the secretion of digestive juices, acids and bile – all which help improve digestion. The liver produces bile to metabolize fat in the bloodstream, an essential digestive function. Important for preventing fat accumulation in the liver and circulatory system, bile also serves as a carrier for the excretion of cholesterol.

How to Incorporate Limes into Your Diet

The lime is a common, tasty citrus fruit that clearly offers support to the liver. For those who want to take advantage of lime’s liver-friendly characteristics, consider the following five culinary tips:

  1. Lime Water – Squeeze a fresh lime into a glass of water in the morning to kick-start your digestive system and stimulate the liver.
  2. Lime Dressing – Whisk some fresh lime juice with extra virgin olive oil, a drop of honey, salt and pepper to adorn your salad with a fresh, tropical, liver-friendly dressing.
  3. Lime Rice – Jazz up your rice with a bit of sautéed garlic, cilantro, lime zest and lime juice for amazing flavor that will also stimulate your liver.
  4. Lime Nuts – Great for healthful snacking, bake some unsalted nuts tossed in lime juice, chili powder and a pinch of salt.
  5. Limeade – Skip the grocery store’s sugary limeade concentrates. Instead, make your own summer treat by stirring lime juice, honey and water together for a surprisingly delicious, refreshing way to hydrate. (Bonus: Limes have plenty of electrolytes too – 1 lime has 22 mg of calcium, 4 mg of magnesium and 68 mg of potassium!)

Combining high amounts of Vitamin C, anti-carcinogenic properties and digestive support, limes are an amazing fruit for anyone striving to care for their liver’s health., What are Limes Good For?, Retrieved February 7, 2015, Dr. Joseph Mercola, 2015., Citrus Limonoids Induce Apoptosis in Human Neuroblastoma Cells and Have Radical Scavenging Activity, SB Poulose, et al, Retrieved February 8, 2015, The Journal of Nutrition, April 2005., Nutrition Facts: Lime Juice – Raw, Retrieved February 8, 2015, Conde Nast, 2015., Five health benefits of limes that can reverse the signs of aging, Julie Daniluk, RHN, Retrieved February 7, 2015, Rogers Media, 2015., Health Benefits of Lime, Retrieved February 8, 2015, Waterfront Media, Inc., 2015., Liver Detox with Lime Juice, Paul Cartmell, Retrieved February 4, 2015, Demand Media, INc., 2015., The Role of the Liver in Digestion, Retrieved February 8, 2015,, 2015., What are the Benefits of Lime Juice?, ArmChairGeek, Retrieved February 7, 2015, Decision Media, Inc, 2015., Health Benefits of Lime, Retrieved February 4, 2015, Organic Information Services, Pvt, Ltd, 2015.

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About the Author

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM, Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)®

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM is a long time advocate of integrating perspectives on health. With a Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience from the University of Rochester and a Master's degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Five Branches Institute, Nicole has been a licensed acupuncturist since 2000. She has gathered acupuncture licenses in the states of California and New York, is a certified specialist with the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, has earned diplomat status with the National Commission of Chinese and Oriental Medicine in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology and is a member of the Society for Integrative Oncology. In addition to her acupuncture practice that focuses on stress and pain relief, digestion, immunity and oncology, Nicole contributes to the integration of healthcare by writing articles for professional massage therapists and people living with liver disease.

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