Can you eat lime leaves?
In this brief article, we will answer the question, “Can you eat lime leaves?”. Apart from this, we will elaborate on the different recipes in which lime leaves are used, the nutritional content of lime leaves and the different advantages of lime leaves.
Can you eat lime leaves?
Yes, you can eat lime leaves. Lime leaves are used in some flavoured dishes like soups and curries. Besides this, lime leaves can also be used in salads and other dishes after slicing them thinly.
Lime leaves are available in both powdered and whole forms. Fresh lime leaves are preferred over non-fresh lime leaves.
Pakistan is producing more than 30 types of different fruits of which citrus fruit is leading among all fruits and constitutes about 30% of total fruit production in the country. The total citrus production was 2.4 million tonnes in 2014–2015 that constitutes 35.2% of total fruit production (7).
The taste of lime leaves
If we talk about the taste of lime leaves, they have a very good taste. Fresh lime leaves are intensely aromatic and citrusy. Lime leaves have a beautiful fragrance. The taste of lime leaves cannot be compared with anything other as lime leaves have a complex and herbal depth of flavour.
Because of the composition rich in terpenes and fatty acids, lime peel is very aromatic. Limonene, linalool and linalyl acetate were the main terpenes identified (2)
The nutritional content of lime leaves
Following are some of the nutrients that are present in lime leaves and can be availed by eating lime leaves (6).
Different recipes in which lime leaves are used
Lime leaves are used while making many dishes. Following are some recipes in which lime leaves can be used as an ingredient.
- Chicken curry with lime leaves: Two spoons of water are added into a blender and then spice paste is ground in it. The ground spice paste is stir-fried in hot oil. Chicken is stirred until it turns opaque.
Coconut cream, water, kaffir lime leaves, and Assam gelugor are added. It will be seasoned with salt after it gets boiled. After adding potatoes, they will be cooked for another fifteen minutes. Heat must be turned off fifteen minutes before serving.
- Cardamom chicken with lime leaves: Onions are heated in a large pan with hot oil inside it. Garlic, ginger, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon are added to the pan and are stirred and cooked for about five minutes. Along with chilli, all the remaining ingredients are now added.
After boiling the mixture, the pan is covered and then it is stirred in the aubergine. Chicken and lime leaves are added after stirring well. These are dispersed on the green pepper after pushing them into liquid. Rice is also made along with it. Before five minutes of serving, heat must be turned off to make sure that there is not any excess moisture.
- Thai lime leaf green curry: After collecting all the ingredients, curry paste is made. Lime leaves must have sniped into thin strips. In a mini food, the chopper collects all the ingredients and leaf strips and combines them. Over medium heat, the pan is heated and oil is added along with shallots in it.
Once the mixture becomes crispy, the heat is decreased. Coconut milk and leftover paste are added and are stirred well. Flavours are adjusted after simmering. In the case of salt, more than fresh lime juice is added. Curry is scooped into a serving bowl.
Advantages of lime leaves
Many flavonoids were identified in lime extract (rutin, apigenin, quercetin, kaempferol, nobiletin, tangeretin and hesperidin). Citrus flavonoids have been found to possess a wide range of activities. This class is known, for example, to act as free radical scavengers, to modulate enzymatic activities, and to inhibit cellular proliferation as well as possessing antibiotic, anti-allergenic, anti-diarrhoeal, anti-ulcer, and anti-inflammatory activities (2).
Following are some advantages that can be obtained by eating lime leaves or including them in dishes (3).
- Good for skin: Antioxidants present in lime leaves are very good for skin health as they work to replenish skin cells and also add moisture to the skin. These antioxidants also prevent our skin from UV radiation.
- Provides relief from stress: Lime leaves are much helpful to relieve stress. Lime leaves must be blended in essential oils. After mixing the scent provides stress-reducing results. Also, it promotes good sleep.
- Provides oral health benefits: Antibacterial properties of lime leaves help the landscape of the mouth to nourish a positive biome with very healthy bacteria. But these must not be swallowed as the fibre content of these leaves can not be digested by bacteria. Data from in vitro studies have shown that these citrus flavonoids can inhibit the proliferation of a human squamous cell carcinoma (4).
- Good for heart health: Arteries carry blood from our heart to body organs. So to keep the heart healthy, the health of arteries is essential. Antioxidants present in lime leaves are very helpful to keep arteries healthy.
According to studies, the decoction of pounded leaves is drunk for stomach ache, used as eye wash and to bathe feverish patients. Poultice of leaves are applied to ulcer wounds, used for skin disease and also applied to the abdomen after childbirth. Crushed leaves are applied to the forehead to treat headache and it is squeezed near the nostril for irritant inhalation to treat nausea and resuscitate fainting individuals. Infusions of lime leaves have been given to treat fever with jaundice, sore throat and oral thrush. A decoction of the flower is believed to help induce sleep for those with insomnia. In southwest Nigeria, the roots, bark, stem twigs, leaves and fruits are used in the treatment of malaria (1).
Disadvantages of lime leaves
Although there are multiple advantages of lime leaf. But we must not forget some of the disadvantages of lime leaves that are as follows.
- Food allergy symptoms: Lime leaves can cause food allergy symptoms like hives and breathing difficulties (5).
- Certain coumarins which are known to cause phototoxicity in humans and have been found to promote tumor formation on the skin and fore stomach epithelium of mice.
- In excessive high doses, the extracts of the leaves may be toxic (1).
In this brief article, we have answered the question, “Can you eat lime leaves?”. Apart from this, different recipes in which lime leaves are used, the nutritional content of lime leaves, different advantages and disadvantages of lime leaves have been discussed.
- Enejoh, Onyilofe Sunday, et al. Ethnomedical importance of Citrus aurantifolia (christm) swingle. Pharma Innov, 2015, 4, 1.
- Loizzo, Monica Rosa, et al. Evaluation of Citrus aurantifolia peel and leaves extracts for their chemical composition, antioxidant and anti‐cholinesterase activities. J Sci Food Agric, 2012, 92, 2960-2967.
- David, Alexander Victor Anand, Radhakrishnan Arulmoli, and Subramani Parasuraman. Overviews of biological importance of quercetin: A bioactive flavonoid. Pharmacog rev, 2016, 10, 84.
- Miller, Edward G., et al. Inhibition of Oral Carcinogenesis by Citrus Flavonoids. Nutr Cancer, 2008, 60, 69-74.
- Alessandrello, Clara, et al. A spotlight on lime: a review about adverse reactions and clinical manifestations due to Citrus aurantiifolia. Clin Mol Aller, 2021, 19, 1-10.
- Mustafa, Nabil S., et al. The promotive effects of some natural extracts (algal, yeast and vermiwash) on vegetative characteristics and nutrients status of citrus lemon (Citrus aurantifolia) seedlings. Net JAgric Sc, 2019, 7, 43-49.
- Siddique, Muhammad Imran, and Elena Garnevska. Citrus value chain (s): A survey of Pakistan citrus industry. Agric. Value Chain, 2018, 37.