Lima Beans – A Delicious Bean for a Healthy Self
July 5, 2022
July 5, 2022
Lima beans are a type of legume of central American origin. The word “Lima” comes from the capital of Peru, Lima. People know them by names like butter bean, sieva bean, double bean, Madagascar bean, chad bean, or wax bean. They can grow both on a bush or vine. The plant’s name “Lunatus” means “half-moon,” referring to the shape of the bean that grows on it. It grows perennially in the tropics and as an annual yield everywhere else. However, they grow as a major crop in California for a long season and prefer warmer weather for their growth.
Lima beans are consumed only after cooking and never eaten raw. Linamarin is a compound in raw lima beans that becomes cyanide when consumed. Cutting and boiling food reduces cyanide content by over 90% because heat destroys the enzymes that release cyanide. That’s why it’s essential to cook them thoroughly before consumption. The amount of Lineraium also depends on where you buy them from. However, research shows that lima beans in the U.S. tend to have lower levels of cyanide.
Lima beans have a rich nutrient profile. As a result, they have abundant health benefits, including lower cholesterol, weight control, stabilising blood sugar, improving gut health, etc. Consuming beans can also reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
Lima beans are not only healthy, but they are also hearty, with versatile flavour. They have a smooth, buttery taste, creamy texture, and mild flavour. Therefore they are often called “butter beans” in America. They can add texture and flavour to enhance the quality of any dish. Lima beans come in three varieties: large, small, and dwarf. Each variety has slight variations in flavour, therefore preferred for different dishes. Research shows they also have a higher shelf life because they exhibit increased resistance to swelling and rupture.
As per USDA data, 100 grams of cooked lima beans serving contains:
Legumes, in general, top the list in terms of fibre content. And lima beans, like other beans, are rich in dietary fibre. Since fibre keeps you satiated for longer, it prevents excess calorie consumption. Lima beans are also nearly fat-free and rich in plant-based protein. Protein-rich foods also help you lose weight because digestion and protein metabolism can help burn calories. Studies also prove that consuming dietary pulses (including beans) leads to weight loss.
Research indicates that phytates and phenolic compounds in dietary pulses (including beans) interfere with glucose absorption, which could contribute to satiety and delay the return of hunger.
According to studies, lima beans are rich in fibre, essential for intestinal health and the prevention of digestive disorders. Its insoluble fibre content makes it easy to digest. In addition, insoluble fibre can help move food through the digestive tract and prevent constipation.
Lima beans are also rich in protein. Research suggests plant-based proteins help produce healthy gut bacteria, which helps protect your intestine lining. In addition, it is gluten-free and thus easily digestible by people with gluten allergies.
Lima bean flour can substitute for people with celiac disease and even help overcome protein deficiency. Moreover, since lima bean flour has lower total phenolic content, it can increase protein digestibility.
Lima beans are rich in dietary fibre, which can help reduce blood cholesterol levels. Fibres decrease the reabsorption of cholesterol-binding bile acids in the colon. Investigations suggest high fibre diets reduce total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Fibre-rich food also decreases HDL cholesterol significantly. They also possess plant sterols that help lower the body’s cholesterol levels.
According to research, consuming plant sterols reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels by 5-15%.
Lima beans’ soluble fibre content helps stabilise blood sugar levels. It slows down the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream. They also have a low glycemic index, which has a negligible effect on the blood glucose level. Lima beans are also rich in magnesium, improving blood glucose control by decreasing insulin resistance and controlling high blood pressure in diabetic patients.
Research shows that diabetes is often associated with magnesium deficiency. Low dietary magnesium intake may result in the development of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Conversely, magnesium supplementation on the metabolic profile of diabetes patients shows significant positive results. Thus, lima beans are suitable for people with diabetes.
Lima beans are rich in potassium. There is 508 mg potassium per 100 g of lima beans. According to research, a potassium-rich diet reduces the risks of strokes, heart failure, and coronary heart diseases. In addition, increased potassium intake decreases the risk of hypertension, a significant factor for heart-related problems.
Lima beans are a great source of phosphorus, essential for kidney function and eliminating toxins from your body. To balance the levels of uric acid, sodium, water, and fat in the body, the kidneys and other digestive organs depend on electrolytes such as phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium. They are also rich in magnesium which is vital for liver function. According to research, a magnesium-rich diet reduces the progression of liver diseases.
Lima beans are rich in potassium which is vital for brain function. Potassium is instrumental in the functioning of brain cells. Research shows that increased potassium intake can improve cognitive brain function and attenuated histopathological markers in patients with Alzheimer’s.
Lima beans are rich in iron and are particularly good for menstruating women. Absorbing iron from lima beans is much easier than from other iron sources, like red meat.
Potassium is associated with bone health. Organic potassium salts decrease urinary calcium excretion, improving calcium retention. In addition, potassium reduces bone turnover and increases bone mass.
A study in Korea found that dietary potassium may neutralise acid load and reduce calcium loss from the bone, leading to beneficial effects on bone mineral density.
Lima beans offer multiple health benefits because they are a good source of fibre, protein, B vitamins, magnesium, iron, and dietary fibre. The rich protein content makes them nearly fat-free. In addition, lima beans are abundant in potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium. As a result, they improve heart and gut health and can lead to healthy weight loss.
Lima beans are buttery and creamy, but they vary in taste depending on their types. Smaller lima beans are milder and less starchy than large lima beans with their earthy flavour. Dwarf limas have a more delicate flavour, making them perfect for curries and sausage stews.
Although allergy to lima beans is uncommon, someone allergic to other legumes like peanuts, soybeans, etc., can be sensitive to lima beans. In that case, you should avoid lima beans.
Lima beans, like other beans, contain antinutrients/lectins, which reduce the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. Lectins can also bind to your intestinal wall and exacerbate symptoms of the leaky gut syndrome. If you are taking any medication, consult with your doctor.
Lima beans contain linamarin, which is a cyanogenic compound. However, heat reduces the cyanide content by 90%. Thus, you should only consume them after boiling.
Lima beans contain phytic acid, which is safe to consume in moderation. However, high phytic acid consumption can harm health due to their ability to produce chemical complexes with minerals, particularly iron and zinc, reducing their absorption through the diet. Check with your doctor about possible drug interactions.
Lima beans are legumes abundant in proteins, fibre, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. They are a great energy source and have health benefits like weight loss, promoting gut health, boosting brain function, reducing blood pressure and blood sugar levels, etc. However, it would help if you did not consume them raw since they contain linamarin and cyanogen. You should only eat them after boiling properly to reduce the cyanide content.
Lima beans’ rich buttery flavour and creamy texture make them suitable to add to several sweet and savoury dishes. You can use different kinds of lima beans for different dishes to enhance their flavour. They have a versatile palette and are easy to combine with salad, curry or pie.
A. Yes, lima beans can be great for your health. They are loaded with nutrients and have several benefits, including decreasing blood pressure and blood sugar, aiding weight loss, improving digestion, boosting cognitive health, etc. However, you should never consume raw lima beans as they can be toxic.
A. Botanically, lima beans are fruits, but they have been used as vegetables in meals due to their savoury flavour. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) considers beans part of the vegetable and protein groups.
A. Yes, lima beans are packed with proteins, fibre, vitamins, and minerals and would be a great addition to your diet. They help you lose weight, boost energy levels, relieve hypertension, etc. Mix them in your salad bowl to fulfil your daily protein and fibre requirement.
A. Lima beans are rich in nutrition. But consuming them in excess may be harmful since they contain linamarin and antinutrients. They are also high in phytic acid, which may react with other minerals and decrease their absorption.
A. Lima beans are rich in fibre and protein, making them easier to digest. They are also gluten-free, making them easier to digest for people with wheat allergies. However, make sure you do not consume it raw.
A. Yes, lima beans are rich in minerals such as magnesium, iron, and vitamin B complexes, which are good for your liver. A high intake of magnesium reduces the progression of certain liver diseases. Studies also suggest that a magnesium-rich diet reduces the risks of fatty liver disease and prediabetes.
A. Lima beans have a good amount of carbohydrates. According to USDA, there are 27.6 grams of carbohydrates per 100 g of lima beans. They are low in calories and virtually fat-free but full of healthy complex carbohydrates.
A. Yes, patients with diabetes can eat lima beans because they are healthy for people with diabetes. They have a low glycemic index, meaning they have a negligible effect on blood glucose levels. They are also rich in fibre and magnesium, suitable for regulating blood sugar levels.
A. Green beans and black soybeans are among the lowest carb beans, along with black-eyed peas and lima beans. Lima beans generally have a good amount of carbs but fewer than other beans.
A. Beans contain raffinose, a carbohydrate that is harder to digest. Bacteria in the large intestine break down raffinose which may cause gas and bloat. Soak them overnight before cooking to leach out the sugars responsible for gas production.