Lima Beans Nutrition: Benefits, Preparation, And Risks

Written by Annie Jangam

Lima beans are underrated superfoods. They are fast gaining popularity as they are inexpensive, easy to prepare, and help promote weight loss. They are rich in fiber and protein and may also help improve heart health and cognitive function and may regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Here, we discuss the nutrition profile, benefits, and possible health risks of lima beans. Take a look.

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.

The high dietary fiber in lima beans can be beneficial for gut health and the digestive system. It can help reduce the risk of acid reflux, ulcers, constipation, diarrhea, and hemorrhoids (4).

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

Process

  1. Rinse and sort the beans. Soak according to the package directions. Drain and rinse beans and discard the liquid.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

Process

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

Process

  1. Cook lima beans in a small saucepan according to the package directions. Drain and reserve 1 tablespoon of cooking liquid.
  2. Sauté onion in butter(in a small skillet).
  3. Stir in the cream, parsley, dill, salt, pepper, and reserved cooking liquid.
  4. 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.

Conclusion

Lima beans are nutritious. They are rich in protein, minerals, dietary fiber, and essential amino acids. They have a low glycemic index and are ideal for regulating blood sugar levels. They also may aid in weight loss. Start including them in your diet today. But be wary of their risks. Lima beans may cause allergic reactions and gastrointestinal discomfort in certain individuals. Hence, consult a licensed medical practitioner before adding them to your diet.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ 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.

10 Sources

  1. Pulse Consumption
    Satiety
  2. A review of the nutritional value of legumes and their effects on obesity and its related co-morbidities
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/obr.12144
  3. Fiber-Mediated Nourishment of Gut Microbiota Protects against Diet-Induced Obesity by Restoring IL-22-Mediated Colonic Health
    https://www.cell.com/cell-host-microbe/fulltext/S1931-3128(17)30497-3?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS1931312817304973%3Fshowall%3Dtrue
  4. Health benefits of dietary fiber
    https://academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/article/67/4/188/1901012?login=true
  5. Role of homocysteine in the development of cardiovascular disease
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4326479/
  6. 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
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00125-009-1395-7
  7. FoodData Central : Lima Beans
    https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168396/nutrients
  8. A Comprehensive Review of Legume Allergy
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12016-012-8310-6
  9. Lima Bean (Phaseolus Lunatus L.) – A Health Perspective
    http://www.ijstr.org/final-print/feb2020/Lima-Bean-phaseolus-Lunatus-L-A-Health-Perspective.pdf
  10. Effect of processing on the nutrients and anti-nutrients of lima bean (Phaseolus lunatus L.) flour
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/1521-3803(20010401)45:2%3C94::AID-FOOD94%3E3.0.CO;2-E

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Annie Jangam is a Molecular Biologist with 7 years of research experience in Rice Functional Genomics and Nutrient Signalling with International Publications in Abiotic stress, Nitrogen, and G-protein signaling. She specializes in writing on Health and Wellness. She has been an avid reader since childhood and is passionate about stories that help decipher life and its meaning. She believes in Human Rights for all and that one should "love others like we love ourselves."
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