7 Incredible Uses For Limes Outside Of Cocktail Hour

Those innocent little green fruits are loaded with healing powers.

January 21, 2016
lime
Siri Stafford/getty

After a party, limes tend to get lost in the produce drawer, only emerge months later shriveled and dried, not good for anything but the compost pile. But it turns out limes can do much more than make a pretty garnish for your gin and tonic. Research shows that limes–and their essential oils–have a huge array of healing properties and can be used to naturally treat everything from skin problems to kidney stones. Here are some of the surprising uses we uncovered.

shave gel
Mitch Mandel
1. Soothe Skin

Lime essential oil has significant antibacterial properties, according to research that looked into the healing powers of 19 extracts. Use it on your skin and face to calm acne and redness. But don’t go for fresh lime juice, which is too acidic and may burn.

Related: 8 Foods For Seriously Great-Looking Skin

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fish taco
Mitch Mandel
2. Keep Your Heart Healthy

resh lime juice and peel reduced buildup of fatty materials in the arteries in a study done on rabbits that ate a high-cholesterol diet. While there is no evidence that the effect is the same for humans, it wouldn’t hurt to add a wedge of lime to your drinks or a squeeze over your fish tacos–it’s delicious, and it may just help if you’ve got high cholesterol. 

lime juice
3. Reduce Risk Of Stroke For Women

In a study by the American Heart Association, women who ate high amounts of citrus had a 19 percent lower risk of blood clot-related stroke than women who ate less. However, the authors caution against going overboard with orange and grapefruit juice due to the high sugar content of most supermarket varieties. Instead, using more lime juice and zest in your cooking is a great way to sneak in more citrus without the extra calories.

honey
Tom Macdonald
4. Help Digestion

The flavonoids (antioxidants) in citrus fruit can help settle the stomach and aid in digestion. That’s why hot water with lime and honey is such a popular after-dinner tonic, along with these 5 Tricks That Relieve Heartburn.

 
 
lime drink
Mark Weiss/getty
5. Prevent Kidney Stones

According to the National Kidney Foundation, the natural citrate found in limes (and lemons) prevents kidney stones just as well as potassium citrate, the standard treatment for chronic sufferers. Supplement your regular medication with lots of sugar-free limeade (sugar increases risk of kidney stones) to make it even more effective.

Related: The Only Mocktail Recipes You’ll Ever Need

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6. Treat Dandruff…And Salmonella!

The kaffir lime–the bumpier, yellow-green cousin of the key lime–is native to India and Southeast Asia, where the fruit and leaves have long been used in traditional medicine to treat a wide variety of minor ailments. Now science backs it up, showing that kaffir limes have significant antimicrobial properties. Bonus: Kaffir lime essential oil inhibits growth of the bacteria that causes dandruff, and lab studies show it fights of salmonella, too.

lime bbq chicken
Anna Williams/getty
7. Protect You From Cholera

In West Africa, cholera is linked to food contamination. However, researchers found cooking with lime juice inhibits survival of the cholera-causing bacteria in food due to its high acidity, and adding lime juice to water had the same effect.