Known for their rich flavor and buttery texture, lima beans are a vibrant and versatile veggie loaded with health benefits.
Also known by their scientific name, Phaseolus lunatus, lima beans are a member of the legume family and closely related to other legumes like lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans and black beans.
Wondering what’s the difference between butter beans vs. lima beans? Depending on where you’re from, these two terms are used interchangeably to describe the same healthy legume.
So are lima beans good for you? What nutrients do they contain, and how can you add them to your daily diet?
Here’s what you need to know about this healthy legume.
Lima Beans Nutrition Facts
Lima beans are highly nutritious. Not only are a good chunk of lima beans carbs actually made up of heart-healthy, indigestible fiber, but they also contain a hefty dose of protein, manganese, folate and potassium.
In fact, the nutritional value of lima beans vs. broccoli, spinach and other greens is somewhat comparable, as all of these vegetables provide a whole host of important nutrients.
One cup (about 188 grams) of cooked lima beans nutrition contains the following:
- 216 calories
- 39.3 grams carbohydrates
- 14.7 grams protein
- 0.7 grams fat
- 13.2 grams dietary fiber
- 1 milligram manganese (49 percent DV)
- 156 micrograms folate (39 percent DV)
- 955 milligrams potassium (27 percent DV)
- 4.5 milligrams iron (25 percent DV)
- 0.4 milligrams copper (22 percent DV)
- 209 milligrams phosphorus (21 percent DV)
- 0.3 milligrams thiamine (20 percent DV)
- 80.9 milligrams magnesium (20 percent DV)
- 0.3 milligrams vitamin B6 (15 percent DV)
- 1.8 milligrams zinc (12 percent DV)
- 8.5 micrograms selenium (12 percent DV)
- 0.8 milligrams pantothenic acid (8 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligrams riboflavin (6 percent DV)
- 3.8 micrograms vitamin K (5 percent DV)
1. High in Protein
Like other legumes, butter beans are a great source of protein, supplying nearly 15 grams in a single cup.
Protein plays an integral role in tissue repair and muscle growth. A lack of this key nutrient can cause symptoms like weakness, stunted growth, anemia and impaired immunity.
2. Promote Digestive Health
With over 13 grams of fiber packed into every cup, just one serving of butter beans can knock out up to 52 percent of your daily fiber needs.
Approximately one-third of the carbs in lima beans nutrition are in the form of fiber, a type of indigestible material that moves through the gastrointestinal tract slowly, adding bulk to the stool while supporting better digestion.
Studies show that adding more fiber to your daily diet can protect against a long list of digestive conditions, including hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, stomach ulcers and constipation.
3. Prevent Iron-Deficiency Anemia
One of the most impressive lima beans benefits is its content of iron, a nutrient that is central to the production of healthy red blood cells in the body. In fact, it’s estimated that about 70 percent of your body’s iron is found in the hemoglobin and myoglobin, which are two types of proteins that are involved in transporting oxygen throughout the body.
The lima bean nutrition profile boasts a good amount of iron, which can aid in the prevention of iron deficiency anemia.
Iron deficiency anemia occurs when your body is unable to produce healthy red blood cells due to a lack of iron, which results in symptoms like fatigue, dizziness and shortness of breath.
4. Support Healthy Pregnancy
Butter beans are a great source of many important vitamins and minerals, including folate.
Folate is a B vitamin that is required for DNA replication, amino acid synthesis and vitamin metabolism, along with many other different reactions in the body. It also plays a central role in fetal growth and development and is especially important for ensuring a healthy pregnancy.
A deficiency in this crucial vitamin can increase the risk of birth defects, including neural tube defects. Some research also suggests that folate may help prevent premature delivery and protect against congenital heart defects as well.
5. Increase Weight Loss
With plenty of protein and fiber packed into just over 200 calories in lima beans nutrition, this incredible ingredient makes a great addition to a healthy weight loss diet.
Protein is involved in weight management and is thought to help increase weight loss by boosting metabolism and modifying appetite and energy intake.
Meanwhile, fiber helps keep you feeling fuller for longer to fight cravings and cut back on calorie consumption.
Selection, Storage, Preparation and Recipes
Growing lima beans at home is an easy way to get your fix of this flavorful ingredient. They are annual plants that require 60–90 days of frost-free, warm weather to reach harvest.
Baby lima beans are also widely available at most grocery stores and farmers markets. If buying fresh lima beans, look for pods that are firm, crisp and free of spots that are soft or discolored.
Frozen or dried lima beans are also available and easy to find at most major supermarkets.
Fresh beans should be stored in an airtight bag and refrigerated to help maximize their shelf life.
Frozen varieties should be kept in the freezer and can stay fresh for around 12 months. Meanwhile, dried beans can last up to two or three years if stored at room temperature in a sealed container.
There are many different options for how to cook lima beans. Beans that are still in their pods should be shucked prior to cooking.
Although soaking isn’t required, it can help speed up the cooking process and promote proper digestion.
The most common way to cook butter beans is to cover in water, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to gently simmer until softened and completely done.
What goes with lima beans? Although many people often pair lima beans with bacon, there are tons of other ways to enjoy this delicious legume.
They work especially well combined with other veggies, such as zucchini, tomatoes, peas, garlic and onions. Alternatively, try adding them to soup, succotash or casserole dishes to bump up the flavor, fiber and nutrients.
Here are a few lima beans recipe ideas that you can use to help get you started:
- Quick Baked Lima Beans and Veggies
- Lima Beans with Dill and Eggs
- Lemon Salmon with Lima Beans
- Springtime Buttered Peas and Lima Beans
- Tomato & Garlic Butter Bean Dinner
Risks and Side Effects
Are lima beans bad for you?
When consumed in moderation, butter beans can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet with minimal risk of side effects.
That said, butter beans should be avoided in those with an allergy to legumes. Some people with an allergy to other legumes, such as soy, may also experience a negative reaction and should consume with caution.
Because they are high in fiber, you should also increase your consumption slowly to avoid digestive issues like gas and bloating. Be sure to also drink plenty of water, which can help fiber move through the body.
Cooking your beans is also very important. Raw butter beans contain linamarin, a compound that is converted to cyanide in the body, which can be toxic. Cooking the beans not only reduces the content of linamarin, but it also decreases the amount of antinutrients to optimize nutrient absorption.
Many people also wonder: Can dogs eat lima beans? Unlike other ingredients like garlic, onions and grapes, butter beans can be a healthy, safe and nutritious addition to your furry friend’s diet.
- Lima beans, also known as butter beans, are a type of legume that are rich in nutrients and loaded with health benefits.
- The lima beans nutrition data includes a good amount of fiber and protein, plus micronutrients like manganese, folate, potassium, iron and copper.
- Lima beans nutrition may also help increase weight loss, support a healthy pregnancy, promote digestive health and aid in the prevention of iron-deficiency anemia.
- These beans can be prepared and enjoyed in a number of different recipes, making them a delicious and versatile addition to a well-rounded diet.