The Peruvian Powerhouse: Health Benefits of Lima Beans

By: 
True You
May 10, 2022

Boston may be known as Beantown, but the city of Lima is one of the only cities to lend its name to an actual bean. Originating in South America, the bean of the Phaseolus lunatus vine has found its way into kitchens far beyond Peru. These beige, green, or white beans are packed with a good chunk of your daily value of many important nutrients despite their low calorie count.

Whether they are known as butter beans, wax beans, or even double beans, the legume best known as the lima bean is a surprisingly nutritious part of soups, stews, chilis, casseroles, and many other dishes. Related to lentils, peanuts, the extremely nutritious black bean, and chickpeas, these nutritious beans can be great options for anyone looking to improve their diet. 

What are the Health Benefits of Lima Beans?

Everything from digestive health to lowered rates of cardiovascular disease are associated with the nutrients found in lima beans. Rich in amino acids and antioxidants, lima beans are a good source of a host of nutrients, with their long list of vitamins and minerals including the following:

  • vitamin C
  • folate
  • dietary fiber
  • manganese
  • magnesium
  • calcium
  • potassium
  • vitamin A
  • phosphorus
  • thiamin
  • vitamin B6
  • selenium

The full nutritional value of butter beans lies in more than just the nutrition facts. Studies have linked lima beans and other legumes to better blood pressure and cholesterol management. Heart health is one of the most important benefits you gain from eating whole foods rich in nutrients, but it is far from the only benefit. Antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E are also thought to have cognitive benefits such as helping to forestall mental decline as you age.

Anyone looking to reduce the amount of animal protein in their diet will likely need to find a good way to replace the proteins they are missing, and lima beans are a great source of protein. With more protein than most other beans, lima beans should definitely find their way onto your plate, but it is important to know that lima beans are not a complete source of protein. If you are cutting meat entirely, you will need to make use of a range of protein sources to replace the essential amino acids found in animal protein. 

Problems with Lima Beans

For those who are particularly strict about avoiding carbs, butter beans may not be on the menu. With 40g of carbs per cup of lima beans, this puts them off-limits for anyone sticking to a strict keto diet. If you are merely on a low-carb diet that allows some carbohydrates, lima beans should be high on the list of carbs you choose due to their overall nutritional value. 

One disadvantage to raw lima beans is they do require some preparation. Soaking beans for several hours before cooking takes a little more planning, which may initially put some people off of using these healthy beans. This is no reason to give up on lima beans, though, as canned varieties are available that can significantly reduce the amount of time needed to prepare them. 

Lima beans do have small amounts of vitamin K, which is important for proper bone health. This is ordinarily a good thing, but if you are on certain medications for heart disease, you will need to be careful about your vitamin K intake. As is the case with all possible interactions between the foods you eat and medication or supplements you may be taking, if you have any concerns simply ask your doctor. 

Are Lima Beans Good for Weight Loss?

As a low-glycemic index food, lima beans are a great tool for weight loss. Since eating these beans does not significantly increase your blood sugar, they can help prevent the insulin spike that follows a rise in blood sugar. Keeping your blood sugar in check will help keep your body from storing the food you eat as fat. The high level of soluble fiber in lima beans also helps carbs to be absorbed into your bloodstream more slowly, which can also help to regulate blood sugar. 

The low-glycemic nature of lima beans also makes them a great food for people who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Keeping blood sugar levels in check naturally through the food you eat can significantly improve the symptoms of diabetes. This makes these beans a great option to pack in some nutrients if you have been put on a diet for insulin resistance

Keeping food on hand so you are not tempted to eat out is always a challenge for anyone looking to lose weight. Thankfully both canned and dried lima beans can last an incredibly long time in your cabinets, which makes them easier and cheaper to buy in bulk and always keep on hand.

What Happens if You Eat Too Many Lima Beans?

If you eat too much of some foods, you could be setting yourself up for trouble. Thankfully, with lima beans, the side effects of over-consumption are likely to be more humorous than harmful. For most people, the only negative effect of eating too many lima beans will be a lot of gas. 

Aside from some flatulence, people with an iron deficiency, or anemia, will want to gravitate toward cooked lima beans, as there are compounds in these beans that can affect nutrient absorption. Severe cases of this condition is relatively rare, though, so adding in some beans as a tasty side dish is not likely to cause most people any problems. 

Lima Beans and Weight Loss

One superfood on its own, or even several healthy items thrown on the menu, will not usually be the answer you are looking for related to problems of weight gain. Getting your diet in check is important, but changes in lifestyle and exercise are also necessary if you are going to lose a significant amount of weight. This does not mean you should ignore the health benefits of foods like lima beans. Exercising regularly and carefully restricting your caloric intake can help your body enter a caloric deficit, but to do it right you need to be giving your body the nutrients it needs to rebuild muscles broken down during workouts. 

There are some people for whom dietary changes and exercise alone are not enough to achieve the results they are looking for. If you have been struggling with obesity for years, it could be possible that exercise and managing a new diet may be very difficult, especially at first. 

Bariatric surgery has been historically seen as the surgery of choice to lose large amounts of weight, but as evidence of the negative side effects of this surgery continues to mount, other, safer alternatives have been developed. At True You, we offer many different solutions for medically assisted weight loss to help people who find themselves looking for answers to chronic obesity.

Whether it is an FDA approved weight loss medication, a removable gastric balloon, or a minimally invasive procedure such as endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG), True You can help you find the treatment that will be the best fit for you as you find the freedom from excess body fat. 

If you are ready to learn more about the options available to you at True You, request a consultation today.

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