The lima bean is a type of legume known for its mild flavor, creamy texture, and unique color, which can range from beige to green. You may also know it as the butter bean, double bean, or wax bean.
You can eat lima beans in either their immature or mature stages. They’re available in various forms — dried, frozen, or canned.
Delicious and versatile, lima beans are also highly nutritious and have been linked to several potential health benefits. Eating these protein-packed legumes may even lead to:
- healthy weight loss
- enhanced blood sugar control
- improved heart health
This article explores some of the main benefits and downsides of lima beans, plus how to prepare them at home.
Lima beans are a great source of many important nutrients, including fiber and a variety of vitamins and minerals.
One cup (170 grams) of cooked lima beans contains (
- Calories: 209
- Protein: 12 grams
- Fat: 0.5 grams
- Carbs: 40 grams
- Fiber: 9 grams
- Manganese: 92% of the daily value (DV)
- Copper: 58% of the DV
- Magnesium: 30% of the DV
- Iron: 23% of the DV
- Potassium: 21% of the DV
- Thiamin: 20% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 19% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 19% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 18% of the DV
Plus, lima beans are rich in magnesium, a mineral your body needs for energy production and DNA synthesis (
Lima beans are a good source of fiber, along with micronutrients like manganese, copper, and magnesium.
Lima beans may offer several potential health benefits.
May stabilize blood sugar levels
Some research suggests that adding lima beans to your diet may promote healthier blood sugar levels long-term.
According to a review of 18 studies, legumes like lima beans may help reduce fasting blood sugar levels and improve blood sugar control for people with type 2 diabetes (
Additionally, one study including 3,349 people found that eating legumes more frequently was linked to a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes (
May promote heart health
They are particularly high in soluble fiber, a type of fiber that dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance.
Soluble fiber has been shown to reduce cholesterol, decrease inflammation, and lower blood pressure levels — all of which decrease your likelihood of heart disease (
May support weight loss
With hearty portions of protein and fiber in every serving, lima beans may help you lose weight when added to your diet.
The protein found in lima beans may be especially beneficial. In fact, some research suggests that increasing your protein intake may help support appetite control, increase feelings of fullness, and decrease food cravings (
Lima beans may help support weight loss, stabilize blood sugar levels, and promote heart health.
Furthermore, lima beans sold in the United States are usually well below the regulated limits of 90.9 mg of cyanide per pound (200 mg per kg), which is lower than the levels known to be toxic to humans (28, 29).
Keep in mind that lima beans are also high in fiber. You should increase your fiber intake steadily. Increasing your intake of fiber very quickly can cause digestive issues, including (
- stomach pain
That’s why it’s best to increase your intake of fiber-rich foods gradually and drink plenty of water. This can help prevent negative side effects.
Some people may be allergic to lima beans. Raw lima beans also contain anti-nutrients and linamarin, which can be reduced through cooking, soaking, and processing. Additionally, increasing your intake of fiber-rich foods very quickly could cause digestive side effects.
Lima beans are easy to prepare and are widely available dried or canned.
Canned lima beans are already cooked and can be eaten as is. Dried lima beans, on the other hand, should be cooked prior to consumption.
Before cooking dried lima beans, you should soak the beans in water overnight. This helps reduce the cooking time and decrease the total amount of anti-nutrients.
When you’re ready to cook the lima beans, follow these steps:
- Rinse the beans.
- In a pot, combine 1 cup (170 grams) of lima beans with 4 cups (945 mL) of water and a bit of salt.
- Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and let the lima beans simmer for 45–60 minutes, or until soft and tender.
- Simply drain the beans before using them in your favorite recipes.
Chefs often prepare lima beans with stock broth, seasonings, and ham for a flavorful side dish.
You can also incorporate lima beans into soups, stews, salads, and succotash — a popular dish traditionally made with sweet corn and lima beans.
Lima beans are available canned or dried and can be added to many different recipes.
Lima beans are a type of legume with a mild, creamy flavor that works well in a variety of dishes.
They contain several important nutrients and may help increase weight loss, stabilize blood sugar levels, and promote heart health.
However, they may contain harmful compounds like anti-nutrients and linamarin, which may cause digestive issues if eaten in high amounts.
Always soak raw or dried lima beans before you cook them. Like other legumes, lima beans can enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy, well-rounded diet.