Should You Drink Lime Water? 9 Health Reasons to Try It
Citrus-infused H2O offers low- or no-cal refreshment. Here are the surprising benefits of lime water for your health.
Benefits of lime water
By now, you’ve probably heard that you should be drinking more water and skipping sugary beverages. Lime water can make that a whole lot easier. It can also give you a nutritional boost.
A fresh-squeezed lime is “going to add about 11 calories to the water that you’re drinking, about 51 milligrams of potassium, less than 1 gram of fiber, and 20 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C,” says Melissa Prest, RDN, a Chicago-based registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Lime juice also contains about 1 percent magnesium. (Just be sure to wash limes before juicing them, Prest advises.)
Here are nine health reasons you might consider drinking lime water—and one reason why you should proceed with caution.
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Adds visual appeal
If a full lime’s worth of juice in your glass would be too pucker-inducing, try a smaller squeeze. You can also infuse water with a subtler hint of citrus by adding lime slices, says Joan Salge Blake, RDN, author of Nutrition & You: Core Concepts for Good Health and clinical professor in the department of health sciences at Boston University.
“I even like the fact that it’s just slices, because it actually makes the glass look pretty. We drink with our eyes,” Blake says. “With something that looks good, you feel more pleasure in consuming it.”
Replaces sugary drinks
“We know that sweetened beverages are the number-one source of added sugars in the diets of Americans,” Blake says.
And now that beverage makers are required to list the amount of added sugar on product labels, “people are seeing firsthand what a shocking amount of added sugars are in some of these sweetened beverages,” she adds. “I’m happy that we have transparency and the consumer can now identify those foods that have a lot of added sugar—but we have to give them alternatives.”
Lime water is a great option, Blake says. “Anything that’s going to allow you to drink more water and less sweetened beverages is a darned good thing.”
Encourages more water drinking
Even if you add lots of juice to your lime water, good old H2O is still the most important nutrient you’ll get in your glass, says Blake. “Water is a nutrient, and people don’t remember that, but it is.”
Staying hydrated is essential for overall health. “We know that people need to drink fluids to stay well hydrated and while moderate and smaller portions of sugar-sweetened beverages can be included in a healthy diet, finding creative ways for people to drink more water is important,” Prest says.
Water requirements vary by age, gender, and activity level, so it’s difficult to make blanket recommendations on how much to drink, she adds. She recommends keeping an eye on urine color. “If it’s a pale yellow to almost clear, then you’re probably drinking enough water,” she says. “If it’s darker yellow, it could be more of an indication of not drinking enough.”
Promotes weight loss
You may have heard that consuming foods with citric acid—like limes—can help with weight loss. Studies done on mice suggest that hydroxycitric acid, a chemical that’s similar to citric acid, suppresses the appetite and stimulates weight loss by slowing down fat-producing enzymes. But the findings are controversial and considered preliminary at best.
But that doesn’t mean adding lime to your water won’t help with weight management. If you’re reducing your intake of sugary drinks, drinking more water, and follow a relatively healthy diet, you’re more like to be at a healthy weight.
Promotes skin health
Like all citrus fruits, lime is a great source of vitamin C, which has multiple health benefits. The nutrient “helps with immunity by increasing white blood cells, helps your body absorb iron from the foods that we eat, and it helps with collagen production, which is important for wound healing and healthy skin,” Prest says.
Limes also contain flavonoids, which possess anti-inflammatory benefits. There’s a multitude of topical skin care products that contain both vitamin C and flavonoids to promote smooth skin and also protect it from environmental stress. However, applying lime juice directly to your face isn’t recommended. This can lead to lime burn with sun exposure.
The flavonoids in limes can help fight inflammation, which is beneficial for brain health, heart health, strokes, and arthritis. Also, the vitamin C in limes can help prevent inflammatory arthritis and promote joint health, according to the Arthritis Foundation. In a population-based study of men and women ages 45–74 years, researchers found that those who reported the lowest amount of fruit and vitamin C intake were three times more likely to develop arthritis than those who had a higher C intake. The study is published in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
May help with gout
A build-up of uric acid in the blood may bring on symptoms of gout. This type of arthritis causes pain, swelling, and tenderness in the joints, oftentimes in the big toe.
Research suggests that limes may help reduce uric acid levels in the blood due to their high concentration of citric acid, which is a solvent of uric acid.
Lime has long been used as a sore throat remedy, and also for coughs and colds. And research suggests that citrus extracts and essential oils can wipe out microbes that make you sick.
A study, published in 2018 in Food Research International, suggests that lime extract may help destroy drug-resistant E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria monocytogenes. In addition to having potent antibacterial effects, Key Lime essential oil may block the growth of several kinds of fungi and ward off some insect pests, according to a review of studies published in 2018 in International Journal of Molecular Sciences.
Better for the planet than bottled water
Homemade lime water is easy on the environment—and your wallet, Blake notes.
“You can make your own flavored water and save yourself a lot of money,” she says. “And from a sustainability standpoint you don’t have to worry about recycling anything.”
Lime water might be bad for your teeth
While there are some good reasons to drink lime water, there is one reason you may want to proceed with caution or avoid overdoing it: Your teeth.
Lime water, much like lemon water, is highly acidic and can damage tooth enamel if you consume too much or too often.
The American Dental Association notes that citrus foods and drinks can erode tooth enamel over time, and tends to recommend plain water as the better choice.
Lime water is a simple drink that just requires two ingredients: water and one to two freshly squeezed limes. The best way to drink lime water is without sugar or any artificial sweeteners. That way, your body can absorb the full benefits of lime.
Always remember to wash limes before using to remove any bacteria on the surface.
- Joan Salge Blake, EdD, RDN, LDN, FAND, clinical professor, College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences, Sargent College, Boston University
- Melissa Prest, DCN, RDN, Chicago-based registered dietitian nutritionist and national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
- Women's Health in Complementary and Integrative Medicine: "Weight Loss Products"
- Arthritis Foundation: "The Ultimate Arthritis Diet"
- Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases: "Vitamin C and the risk of developing inflammatory polyarthritis: prospective nested case-control study"
- Endocrine Research: "The Alkalizer Citrate Reduces Serum Uric Acid Levels and Improves Renal Function in Hyperuricemic Patients Treated with the Xanthine Oxidase Inhibitor Allopurinol"
- International Journal of Molecular Science: "Biological Activities and Safety of Citrus spp Essential Oils"
- Food Research International: "Citrus fruit extracts with carvacrol and thymol eliminated 7-log acid-adapted Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella typhimurium, and Listeria monocytogenes: A potential of effective natural antibacterial agents"
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride and Sulfate
- American Dental Association's MouthHealthy.org: Top 9 Foods That Damage Your Teeth