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.

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Tara Romasanta Photography / Stocksy

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 (1):

  • 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

Lima beans are especially high in manganese, which acts as an antioxidant and plays a key role in metabolism (2).

They also provide a good amount of copper in each serving, which supports immune health and promotes brain function (3).

Plus, lima beans are rich in magnesium, a mineral your body needs for energy production and DNA synthesis (4).


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.

Like other beans, lima beans have a low glycemic index, which is a measure of how much specific foods increase blood sugar levels (5, 6).

They’re also high in fiber, which can slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream to keep your blood sugar levels in check (7).

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 (8).

Additionally, one study including 3,349 people found that eating legumes more frequently was linked to a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes (9).

May promote heart health

Packing 9 grams of fiber into each 1-cup (170-gram) serving, lima beans can be an excellent addition to a heart-healthy diet (1).

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 (10).

Furthermore, lima beans are rich in antioxidants — protecting you against oxidative stress and inflammation — to help keep your heart healthy and strong (11, 12).

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 (13).

Similarly, fiber can slow the emptying of your stomach, keep you full, and promote weight loss (14, 15).

While research on lima beans specifically is lacking, some studies show that eating more beans and legumes could be tied to increased weight loss and decreased body fat (16, 17).


Lima beans may help support weight loss, stabilize blood sugar levels, and promote heart health.

Although it’s uncommon, some people have an allergy to legumes and may need to avoid lima beans altogether (18, 19).

Additionally, like other types of beans, lima beans contain antinutrients, which are compounds that may impair the absorption of minerals in the body (20, 21).

Raw lima beans also contain linamarin, which is a cyanogenic compound some consider toxic to humans (22, 23).

Fortunately, cooking, soaking, and processing beans can significantly reduce the content of these compounds to prevent any adverse effects on health (24, 25, 26, 27).

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 (30):

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:

  1. Rinse the beans.
  2. In a pot, combine 1 cup (170 grams) of lima beans with 4 cups (945 mL) of water and a bit of salt.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Just one thing

Try this today: My favorite way to use lima beans is to swap them in for chickpeas when making homemade hummus. Simply blend lima beans with some tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, and your favorite herbs and spices and enjoy.

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