Probably the most tart of fruits, lemons and limes are rarely eaten alone. But their tart juice adds life to everything from salads to pies. This gives them carte blanche to fight fat by perking up all the fresh, low-calorie foods in your new weight-loss plan.
Anyone learning to appreciate the flavors of whole, processed foods should keep a lemon or lime handy. Squeeze on lemon or lime juice, add a few herbs, and you can perk up most any dish. Neither juice adds any appreciable calories, just pizzazz, plus a bit of nutrition, too.
Both lemons and limes exude vitamin C, the antioxidant that helps fight heart disease, inflammation, and cancer. Moreover, lemons and limes contain phytochemicals, such as terpenes and limonenes, that may play a role in preventing some cancers.
Selection and Storage
Look for firm, unblemished fruit that's heavy for its size -- an indicator of juiciness. Thin-skinned fruit yield the most juice. Refrigerated, they keep for a month or two. Lemons will even keep for a week or two at room temperature, but limes must be refrigerated. Lemon varieties vary mostly in their skin thickness, juiciness, and number of seeds. The key lime -- of pie fame -- is more flavorful than other lime varieties because of its greater acidity. Key limes are small and round; other varieties look more like green lemons. Limes typically turn yellowish as they ripen. The greenest limes have the best flavor.
Preparation and Serving Tips
To get more juice from a lemon or lime, bring it to room temperature, then roll it back and forth under the palm of your hand before you cut and squeeze it. The most flavorful part of the fruit is its "zest," or skin. Scrape it off with a grater, knife, or zester, and use it to enhance desserts and fruit salads. A twist of lemon adds zing to fish and to bean dishes, drastically reducing the amount of salt typically used to flavor beans.
Lemons and limes are the kings of citrus fruit. One of the most refreshing drinks on a hot summer day is chilled mineral water with a splash of freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice.
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