The substantial amounts of fiber and protein are responsible for the impressive health benefits of lima beans. They also have been fast becoming popular as they are easy to prepare and inexpensive. These beans also may help promote weight loss, improve heart health and cognitive function, and may regulate blood cholesterol and sugar levels. Here, we discuss the nutrition profile, benefits, and potential risks of lima beans. Read on.
In This Article
What Are Lima Beans?
Lima beans (Phaseolus lunatus) are also commonly known as butter beans or sieva beans. They are a legume grown for their edible seeds or beans. They are oval and whitish or green. They have a buttery taste and are among the most common legumes consumed all over the world.
Wondering what the health benefits of lima beans are? Find out in the next section.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Lima Beans?
1. May Help With Weight Control
Lima beans are a good source of dietary fiber. They also are a fat-free source of high-quality protein. They increase satiety (short term) and help with weight loss during international energy restriction(1). Thus, substituting them for energy-dense foods may help with weight management.
A review published in the Journal of the Obesity Reviews suggests that consuming legumes can help reduce the risk of obesity-related co-morbidities such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease (2).
However, more research is needed to further understand the role of lima beans in weight loss and weight management.
2. May Improve Digestive Health
Scientific studies have linked consumption of dietary fiber with the growth of good bacteria in the colon (3).
Dietary fiber is well known for its impact on digestion. It helps bulk up the stool and stimulates peristaltic motion and optimizes nutrient uptake.
3. May Have Cardioprotective Effects
The fiber in lima beans helps lower blood cholesterol levels. They also are a good source of folate. Folate is associated with lower homocysteine levels. Elevated homocysteine is known to increase the risk of coronary heart disease (5).
4. May Help Stabilize Blood Sugar Levels
Scientific studies show that consuming legumes like lima beans can help regulate blood sugar in people with diabetes (6). This could be attributed to their low glycemic index and higher dietary fiber content (6). However, more studies are needed to further understand the role of lima beans in this regard.
Lima Beans Nutrition Facts
One cup of raw lima beans (156g) have the following nutrients (7):
- Calories: 176
- Fat: 1.3g
- Sodium: 12.5mg
- Carbohydrates: 31.5g
- Fiber: 7.6g
- Sugars: 2.3g
- Protein: 10.7g
Lima Beans Preparation And Tips
- Lima beans are usually available frozen, dried, or canned. Pick what suits your requirements.
- You can buy them shelled or unshelled. Fresh lima beans can be stored in the refrigerator for a week. Dried, shelled beans can last up to a year in a cool, dry place.
- Look for whole, uncracked lime beans. Avoid dried or discolored beans.
How to Prepare
Shell lima beans before you cook them by opening each pod and removing the beans. Rinse the beans in a colander before cooking. Add the beans to boiling salt water to cook them fresh. Cook until tender, up to 60 minutes.
The mild buttery taste of these beans pairs well with fish, meat, poultry, or grains. Lima beans can easily be added to soups, salads, casseroles, a bean mash, or a dip recipe. You can also use lima beans in place of other beans, like white beans.
You can also check out the following lima bean recipes.
- Lemon-Garlic Lima Beans
You Will Need
- 1 pound dried lima beans
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Additional chopped fresh parsley
- Rinse and sort the beans. Soak according to the package directions. Drain and rinse beans and discard the liquid.
- Place beans in a large saucepan. Add bay leaves and water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer, covered, until beans are tender, for 11/4 to 11/2 hours. Drain.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add onion and cook and stir until tender, for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and cook for a minute longer. Add the next 6 ingredients. Stir in drained beans and the remaining oil. Toss to combine. Sprinkle with additional parsley.
- Southern Lima Beans
You Will Need
- 1 pound large dried lima beans
- 1 large smoked ham hock
- 9 cups water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Add the beans to a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the ham hock, water, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a low boil, and cook for about 20 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover tightly, and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the beans are tender to your liking.
- Add water to keep the beans just covered. Stir less frequently to allow the beans to stay intact, or stir more often to create a thick, rich broth.
- Add the pepper and additional salt to taste. If desired, remove the hock, shred the meat, and return it to the pot.
- Saucy Lima Beans
You Will Need
- 11/2 cups frozen lima beans
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2/3 cup half-and-half cream
- 11/2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon dill weed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- Cook lima beans in a small saucepan according to the package directions. Drain and reserve 1 tablespoon of cooking liquid.
- Sauté onion in butter(in a small skillet).
- Stir in the cream, parsley, dill, salt, pepper, and reserved cooking liquid.
- Cook for 1-2 minutes longer or until the butter is melted.
Including lima beans in your food is quite easy. But you must be aware of their potential adverse effects before you start consuming them.
Lima Beans Health Risks
- May Cause Allergies
Individuals allergic to legumes and peanuts tend to develop allergic reactions to lima beans. Mild skin reactions to life-threatening anaphylactic reactions have been reported in people exposed to legumes and peanuts (8). An allergic reaction to lima beans may also exhort a similar immune response.
- Has A Risk Of Cyanide Poisoning
Lima beans contain cyanogenic glycosides that can be hydrolyzed into the highly toxic hydrogen cyanide(9 ). Though this is rare, it is better to be cautious while consuming large amounts of raw lima beans.
- May Cause Gastrointestinal Discomfort
Lima beans contain oligosaccharides that can cause flatulence (9). Do consult a doctor if you experience nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, or diarrhea after consuming lima beans.
- May Reduce Absorption Of Certain Nutrients
Lima beans contain compounds that may interfere with the absorption of nutrients (10). However, rinsing, cooking, and toasting the beans may help reduce the concentrations of these antinutrients. People with malnutrition or anemia should consult a nutritionist before consuming lima beans.
Lima beans are nutritious legumes featured in many savory dishes. They are loaded with proteins, dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The benefits of lima beans range from promoting digestive health to possibly lowering blood cholesterol levels. Their rich dietary fiber content may help promote heart health, thus reducing the risk of many chronic cardiovascular diseases. The high fiber content of lima beans may also result in weight loss since it induces the feeling of fullness after eating. However, when consumed in excess, it can cause digestive issues such as cramps, nausea, diarrhea, or malabsorption of nutrients. It may also trigger allergies. You should limit its use and consult a doctor if any adverse reactions occur.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are lima beans good for your liver?
Yes, lima beans are good for the liver as they help in managing the lipid profile. They may help reduce the risk of fatty liver disease.
Are lima beans complete protein?
Yes, lima beans are complete protein as they contain all the essential amino acids.
Are lima beans a superfood?
Yes, lima beans can be considered a superfood due to their rich nutrient content and health benefits.
- Rich in dietary fiber and proteins, lima beans are highly nutritious with several health benefits as well.
- These are not only good for weight loss, but also help improve your heart and digestive health as well.
- Soaking and rinsing the beans before cooking would help get the most of its nutrients.
- Pulse Consumption
- A review of the nutritional value of legumes and their effects on obesity and its related co-morbidities
- Fiber-Mediated Nourishment of Gut Microbiota Protects against Diet-Induced Obesity by Restoring IL-22-Mediated Colonic Health
- Health benefits of dietary fiber
- Role of homocysteine in the development of cardiovascular disease
- Effect of non-oil-seed pulses on glycaemic control: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled experimental trials in people with and without diabetes
- FoodData Central : Lima Beans
- A Comprehensive Review of Legume Allergy
- Lima Bean (Phaseolus Lunatus L.) – A Health Perspective
- Effect of processing on the nutrients and anti-nutrients of lima bean (Phaseolus lunatus L.) flour
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