Lima beans are a legume, as are split peas and lentils. Until recently, it was thought they originated in Brazil, but new discoveries have pinpointed Guatemala. References to lima beans began showing up in ancient literature in the 1500s. Now known for their buttery texture and flavor, numerous varieties are cultivated worldwide in bush and pole vine varieties. In the U.S., lima beans are abundant mostly along the California coast. Perhaps because of their origin in South American climes, lima beans require a minimum soil temperature of 65 degrees in order to germinate.
Dried lima beans require soaking for at least six hours. After draining, they can be steamed or boiled for about 20 minutes, just like fresh or frozen types, with salt and pepper added for flavor. A little butter only increases that aspect of the flavor - it explains why in some areas of the country they’re called butter beans. Canned lima beans should be drained and rinsed before preparation. In any case, lima beans mix well with vegetables for casseroles, soups, and even cold in salads.
Health Benefits of Lima Beans
Lima beans contain 39% of the daily food value for folate, for DNA synthesis and cell division. They also contain 20% of the daily value of thiamin (vitamin B1), and 15% of vitamin B6. Other nutrients include pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and niacin, most of which function as co-enzymes to metabolize carbohydrates, protein, and fats in your system.
The fiber in lima beans provides 53% of your body’s daily requirement - important not only as 1) a laxative but 2) to protect the colon and fight cancer by decreasing the amount of time toxic substances stay in the colon, and 3) reduces blood cholesterol levels by decreasing re-absorption in the colon.
The mineral content in lima beans provides almost half of what you need per day in manganese, along with plentiful amounts of iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and valuable antioxidants.
See also: Beans and Legumes for Your Blood Type
Lima Beans Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 3.5 ounces (100 grams), cooked, without salt
|Calories from Fat
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Studies Done on Lima Beans
According to numerous studies, legumes, including lima beans, can help diabetes patients lower their insulin intake. One study in particular determined that the slow digestive process makes them low on the glycemic index, which helps stabilize blood glucose levels, that that eating more beans will help reduce the total glycemic value of meals.1
A study published in 2012 reported that the high amounts of folic acid, or folate, in lima beans may reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer, and increase the odds of survival, increasing as much as 58% for those ingesting healthy amounts before a breast cancer diagnosis. In trials, the highest intakes were linked with a 58% improved breast cancer survival rate.2
Lima Beans Healthy Recipes:
Old-Fashioned Baked Lima Beans
|1/4 pound of sliced smoked turkey, cooked
||1 cup of large dried lima beans
||2 quarts of boiling water
|1 bay leaf
||2 sprigs celery leaves
||5 sprigs parsley
|1/3 cup of sorghum molasses
||1/4 cup of firmly packed brown sugar
||2 teaspoons of dry mustard
|2 teaspoons of salt
||1/8 teaspoon of pepper
||1 medium onion, chopped
|1/2 cup of sherry wine
- Rinse lima beans. Add to boiling water in large saucepan, and boil for 2 minutes. Cover and let stand for an hour.
- Tie together bay leaf, celery leaves, and parsley. Add to lima beans and boil for an hour. Drain lima beans, reserving 1 1/2 cups liquid.
- Heat oven to 250ºF. Arrange drained lima beans and sliced turkey in layers in 2-quart baking dish with slices of pork on top.
- Combine molasses, brown sugar, dry mustard, salt, pepper and onion with 1 1/2 cups liquid from lima beans. Pour over lima beans, and then cover. Bake at 250ºF for 2 1/2 hours.
- Remove the cover, and then pour sherry over lima beans. Bake for an hour. Makes 8 servings.
This recipe makes 8 servings.
(From Terry's Recipes)
Lima Beans Fun Facts
Several wild and cultivated forms of lima beans are thought to have been left along Indian trade routes from South America and up through Mexico, where they were used as a protein source by native Mayans, Aztecs, and Inca tribes.
From the bush or pole, and whether dried, fresh or frozen, lima beans can be a delicious side dish all by themselves. The easiest way is simple preparation with salt, pepper, and butter. But even when added to soups or salads, a tremendous nutritional bonus comes from the humble lima bean in the way of fiber, folate, vitamins B1 and B6 and numerous minerals, with proven ability to lower diabetes and cancer rates.