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8 Wonderful Health Benefits Of Lima Beans You Never Knew

Lima bean (Phaseolus lunatus) is a legume grown for its edible seeds or beans. The seeds are also called butter beans due to their buttery texture and flavour. Lima beans are used in a wide variety of dishes and they are a common summer side dish in the Southern United States.

The pod of the fresh lima bean is flat, oblong and slightly curved which is about 3 inches in length. The pod contains two to four flat kidney-shaped seeds which are called lima beans [1] .

Lima beans are packed full of nutrients, antioxidants and plant sterols [2] .

Nutritional Value Of Lima Beans

100 grams of raw lima beans contain 10.17 g water, 338 kcal (energy) and they also contain

  • 21.46 g protein
  • 0.69 g fat
  • 63.38 g carbohydrate
  • 19.0 g fibre
  • 8.50 g sugar
  • 81 mg calcium
  • 7.51 mg iron
  • 224 mg magnesium
  • 385 mg phosphorus
  • 1724 mg potassium
  • 18 mg sodium
  • 2.83 mg zinc
  • 0.507 mg thiamin
  • 0.202 mg riboflavin
  • 1.537 mg niacin
  • 0.512 mg vitamin B6
  • 395 mcg folate
  • 0.72 mg vitamin E
  • 6.0 mcg vitamin K

Health Benefits Of Lima Beans

1. Prevent constipation

The insoluble dietary fibre in lima beans acts as a laxative that reduces the chances of constipation [3] . Insoluble fibre stays in its fibrous form which helps food pass through the digestive system and increases the bulk of the stool. Eating lima beans can benefit people suffering from constipation or irregular stools.

2. Promote growth and repair of tissues

Lima beans contain a good amount of protein which is important for regulating every single process of the body. Proteins are the building blocks of the body required for the growth and repair of cells and tissues of the body. Proteins help in faster recovery from an injury or illness by boosting up the protein levels in the body[4] .

3. Improve heart health

Lima beans contain significant amounts of dietary fibre, potassium, magnesium, folate and saponin [5] . All these nutrients contribute to cardiovascular health. The fibre lowers the absorption of cholesterol in the bloodstream and reduces blood pressure. Folate reduces the thickening of artery walls, potassium and magnesium reduce the risk of heart diseases.

4. Prevent cancer

The dietary fibre content in lima beans protects the colon mucosa by decreasing its exposure time to toxic substances in the colon. It also acts as a binding agent to cancer-causing chemicals in the colon. Lima beans also contain little amounts of isoflavones like genistein and daidzein which have been found to protect from breast cancer. In addition, lunatusin, a trypsin-stable antimicrobial peptide extracted from lima beans has also been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer [6] .

5. Stabilize blood sugar

If you have diabetes, lima beans can really help in managing your blood sugar levels due to the presence of dietary fibre. Consumption of lima beans by diabetic patients can help them manage their insulin resistance. Being a low glycemic index food, lima beans will help stabilize the blood sugar levels [7]

6. Increases energy levels

Lima beans are an excellent source of iron, a mineral responsible for increased energy production and metabolism. When the iron stores start depleting in the body, not enough red blood cells are produced to transport oxygen throughout the body. This leads to weakness and low energy levels in the body.

7. Prevent pregnancy-related issues

Both fresh and dried lima beans are a great source of folate also known as folic acid is an important mineral required for pregnant mothers. Folate, when consumed before or during pregnancy, can help prevent neural birth defects of a baby's brain and spinal cord [8] .

8. Help in digestion

The fibre in lima beans keeps the digestive tract healthy by helping in the digestive process and boosting the growth of good bacteria in the gut. Fibre works as a prebiotic that feed the good bacteria in the intestine and lowers the risk factor for obesity and metabolic syndrome [9] .

How To Select And Store Lima Beans

While purchasing dried lima beans make sure that they are not damaged, have no moisture content and they are whole and not cracked. Store them in an airtight container in a cool and dark place

If you are purchasing fresh lima beans, choose firm dark green glossy ones with tender skin. Store them in the refrigerator to keep them fresh for a few days.

How To Prepare And Cook Lima Beans

If you are using dried ones, wash them first before soaking them in water for eight hours or overnight. Before cooking the beans, drain the water and rinse the beans with clean water.

If using whole fresh lima beans, cook them before eating it.

Ways To Consume Lima Beans

  • Prepare lima beans spread by puréeing the beans with chopped garlic and fresh herbs.
  • Use the beans for making soup or add it in combination with other vegetables.
  • Enjoy boiled lima beans with corn and top them with chopped tomatoes, avocado and herbs.
  • Blend cooked lima beans and sweet potatoes together. Serve it as a sandwich spread.

Lima Beans Recipe [10]

Baked lima beans

Ingredients:

  • ¼ pound of sliced smoked turkey, cooked
  • 1 cup dried lima beans
  • 2 cups of boiling water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs celery leaves
  • 2 sprigs parsley
  • 1/3 cup sorghum molasses
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp brown mustard
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • ½ cup sherry wine

Method:

  • Rinse the beans and boil it for 2 minutes. Let stand for an hour.
  • Add bay leaf, celery leaves and parsley to the water. Boil it again till the beans are soft. Drain the water, reserving 1 ½ cups of water.
  • Heat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a baking dish, add the beans and sliced turkey in layers.
  • In the remaining 1 ½ cup water, mix molasses, brown sugar, dry mustard, salt, pepper and onion.
  • Pour this mixture over the beans and bake it for 2 ½ hours at 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Take it out, pour sherry and bake for another hour. Enjoy!

Note: You should never consume raw lima beans because they contain linamarin, a kind of cyanide that is toxic. Cooking the beans will destroy this compound and makes them safer to eat.

View Article References
  1. [1] Messina, V. (2014).Nutritional and health benefits of dried beans. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 100(suppl_1), 437S–442S.
  2. [2] Agostini-Costa, T. da S., Teodoro, A. F. P., Alves, R. de B. das N., Braga, L. R., Ribeiro, I. F., Silva, J. P., … Burle, M. L. (2014). Total phenolics, flavonoids, tannins and antioxidant activity of lima beans conserved in a Brazilian Genebank. Ciência Rural, 45(2), 335–341.
  3. [3] Ekvall, W. S., & Ekvall, V. K. (2005). Constipation and fiber.Pediatric nutrition in chronic diseases and developmental disorders: prevention, assessment, and treatment, 254.
  4. [4] Chel-Guerrero, L., Gallegos-Tintoré, S., Martínez-Ayala, A., Castellanos-Ruelas, A., & Betancur-Ancona, D. (2011).Functional Properties of Proteins from Lima Bean (Phaseolus lunatus L.) Seeds. Food Science and Technology International, 17(2), 119–126.
  5. [5] Oboh, H. A., & Omofoma, C. O. (2008). The effects of heat treated lima beans (Phaseolus lunatus) on plasma lipids in hypercholesterolemic rats.Pakistan Journal of Nutrition,7(5), 636-639.
  6. [6] Wong, J. H., & Ng, T. B. (2005).Lunatusin, a trypsin-stable antimicrobial peptide from lima beans (Phaseolus lunatus L.). Peptides, 26(11), 2086–2092.
  7. [7] Jenkins, D. J. A., Kendall, C. W. C., Augustin, L. S. A., Mitchell, S., Sahye-Pudaruth, S., Blanco Mejia, S., … Josse, R. G. (2012).Effect of Legumes as Part of a Low Glycemic Index Diet on Glycemic Control and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Archives of Internal Medicine, 172(21), 1653.
  8. [8] Greenberg, J. A., Bell, S. J., Guan, Y., & Yu, Y. H. (2011). Folic Acid supplementation and pregnancy: more than just neural tube defect prevention.Reviews in obstetrics & gynecology,4(2), 52-59.
  9. [9] Parnell, J. A., & Reimer, R. A. (2012). Prebiotic fiber modulation of the gut microbiota improves risk factors for obesity and the metabolic syndrome.Gut microbes,3(1), 29-34.
  10. [10] What Are Lima Beans Good For? Retrieved from https://foodfacts.mercola.com/lima-beans.html

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