Spanish lime (Melicoccus bijugatus) is a rare, exotic fruits native in South and Central America, also Carribean. It is a member of soapberry family, means it is closed relative of lychee and longans. It is also called genip, genipe, ginepa, quenepa, quenepe, chenet, canepa, mamon, limoncillo, skinip, kinnip. It can be found both cultivated or naturally grown in the coastal area and dry forests. It has 2 varieties: the sweet one and sour one. The sour one is usually eaten with chilli powder, salt and lime; while the sweet one is eaten just the way it is without adding any spices. The taste is a mixture of lychee and lime.
The fruit is green and ovoid. It looks like an unripe lime, therefore Americans call it “Spanish lime.” It has a leathery skin which needs to be peeled away before consuming the creamy, delicate pulp. The pulp is juicy, with light orange (salmony) color. There is a big seed inside the flesh. In Puerto Rico, the fruit grows abundantly in the municipal city of Ponce. In the city, there is a festival to honor the fruit, called Festival Nacional de la Quenepa (National Spanish Lime Fruit Festival). The festival is held every year.
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Spanish lime is high in vitamin A, vitamin C, antioxidants and fiber. Let’s see the table below for complete nutritional value of 100 grams of spanish lime (1 serving).
|Component||Amount/ 100 g||% Daily Value|
|Total carbohydrates||19 g||6,33 %|
|Protein||1 g||2 %|
|Fat||0 g||0 %|
|Total dietary fiber||1 g||4 %|
|Folates||0 mcg||0 %|
|Niacin||0 mg||0 %|
|Pantothenic acid||0 mg||0%|
|Pyridoxine||0 mg||0 %|
|Vitamin A||10 %|
|Vitamin C||8 %|
|Sodium||5 mg||2,08 %|
|Potassium||0 mg||0 %|
Percent Daily Value is based on 2000 Kcal. Your daily value may depend on age, sex, health status and physical activities.
Meanwhile, here is the health benefits of Spanish lime, thanks to high antioxidants and fiber contents. It also contains some essential minerals needed by our body.
1. Lowers Cholesterol
Spanish lime contains high dietary fibers. High dietary fibers helps lower Cholesterol level by binding with cholesterol in the intestines, thus preventing the cholesterol to be absorbed into the bloodstream. Bad Cholesterol (LDL) is known to be one of the reason of atherosclerosis, the beginning of cardiovascular diseases.
2. Maintains Healthy Digestive System
The fibers help prevent constipation by absorbing water from outside of colon and increase the mass of the stool. The fibers also help curing diarrhea by absorbing excessive water from the stool. The seeds of spanish lime can be roasted, crushed and mixed with honey to sooth away diarrhea. Moreover, the leaves can be boiled and the decoction is taken to treat intestinal problems.
3. Lowers Blood Pressure
Spanish lime is full of antioxidants (phenolic compounds), which play important role in reducing the damages in blood vessels caused by free radicals. Healthy blood vessel will make the heart put less efforts in pumping the blood, thus lowering blood pressure. Combined with the effect of lowering cholesterol, consuming spanish lime can keep us away from cardiovascular diseases.
Although spanish lime is rich in sugar, the sugar is in fructose form, which is more difficult to absorb than simple glucose. There is some researches claiming that spanish lime has some protein substances which lower blood glucose level. The fibers also help preventing excessive sugar absorbed into bloodstream.
5. High Antioxidants
Spanish lime is rich in phenolic compounds, known as antioxidants. Antioxidants are needed to fight free radicals in our body, since we can get free radicals from pollutions, unhealthy foods and metabolic wastes in our body. Consuming high-antioxidants foods can delay aging process in our body, and prevent us to get degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular problems, alzheimer and dementia.
Thus, antioxidants help healing process of minor inflammations in our blood vessels, thus preventing atherosclerosis. It also help heal minor inflammations in our brain. High antioxidants also helps maintaining healthy and youthful skin by healing minor inflammations which cause wrinkled skin. Antioxidants also helps combat cancers.
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6. Promotes Healthy Eyes
Spanish lime is high in vitamin A. Vitamin A is very important to maintain healthy eyes. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to Nyctalopia, a condition where it is difficult or impossible to see in low light.
Vitamin A also boosts immune system, which is great to fight infections, especially viral infections like common colds.
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7. Helps Weight Loss
Spanish lime is low in calories, contains no fat at all, but high in fiber and it helps to lower cholesterol. People in There is a proper saying by Latin America people that if you want to lose weight, then you can eat Spanish lime all in your menu for a day long. It will keep us busy, plus we will feel full longer because of the fibers.
This is absolutely the nicest way to lose weight, without abstaining too much from nice foods. We already know that obesity will lead to cardiovascular diseases (such as hypertension, stroke, and heart diseases), so it is a good idea if we want to lose weight.
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8. Promotes Good Sleep
One of the best benefits of Spanish Lime is to promote good sleep. Meanwhile, Spanish lime is high in tryptophan, an amino acid which is important for good sleep. It also contains lysine, an amino acid which is important to promote proper growth and maintain healthy appetite. We know that most of our body cells grow and regenerate at night, when we sleep. So, the combination of tryptophan and lysine in the Spanish lime is very good for our body.
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9. Maintains Healthy Bones and Teeth
Spanish lime and the seeds contains calcium, a very important mineral for the maintaining healthy bones and teeth. Regular calcium intakes prevent us to get osteoporosis. The seeds is high in phosphorus, which together with calcium promotes healthy bones and teeth.
10. Prevents Anemia
Spanish lime contains Iron, a mineral needed to produce healthy red blood cells. Iron deficiency can lead to Anemia, a condition where the number of healthy red blood cells is less than normal.
11. Healthy Snacks
The fruit itself is very healthy because it is low in calories, fat free and cholesterol free. It is a very good snack, where we can consume big quantity of the fruits without fearing to gain weight.
The seeds can be roasted and eaten like sunflowers or chestnut, which give more protein with little fat. Proteins are important for growth and muscle developments, especially during workouts. It is a good choice to maintain body weight.
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12. Substitute of Cassava Flour
People in South America use Spanish lime seeds as substitute of cassava flour for baking. The seeds are roasted and ground. This is especially important for people with gluten allergy, since they cannot consume wheat flour at all; thus they need to replace wheat flour with cassava flour or Spanish lime flour.
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13. Natural Fabric-dye
The juice from the fruit gives dark-brown stain when it touches any fabric. The indigenous Arawak people use the juice to dye their clothes.
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14. Ornamental Plants
The tree, especially when flowering, is very beautiful. In Latin America and Caribbeans (Puerto Rico, Equador, Bolivia, Columbia, Dominican, Mexico, Bahamas, etc) the trees are often used as ornamental plants in front yards or on side roads. Ornamental plants are important, since it can produce oxygen and absorb carbondioxyde, making the air more fresh and healthy. When we live in healthy air, we will feel more energized.
How to Consume
Usually, Spanish lime is consumed directly like any other fruit. The leathery skin is torn by teeth to expose the juicy pulp. With the sour variety, people add chilli, salt and lime to mask the sour taste.
Spanish lime also can be cooked, just like lychee. When cooked, the taste is freshening and wonderful. It is often cooked with meat and poultry.
The Spanish lime juice is a staple fruit juice in Colombia, it can be bought in stores. The juice can be cooked to make simple syrup and used in various sauce, desserts and jelly. The fresh fruit juice also can be added to cocktails.
When eating Spanish lime, make sure that the fruit is fully ripe. The unripe fruits are poisonous. And since the juice from the fruit can stain the clothes, we should peel the skin carefully. We should take cautions on the big seeds too, since it can cause choking hazards in children.
The Spanish lime is still rare worldwide, and can only be found in Central and South America and Caribbeans. If you happen to travel to Central or South America, or Caribbeans, you have to try to consume this fruit. If you travel to Colombia, you also can buy some Spanish lime juice to add to your diet. If you are native to Central and South America or Caribbeans, you should be thankful that Mother Nature gives you such wonderful fruit, which has so much benefits. Be careful when eating the fruits though, because the fruit juice can stain the clothes. As a result, there are many health benefits of Spanish lime that we now know.