Scientifically known as Phaseolus lunatus, lima beans are delicious and nutritious beans, known for their mild buttery, starchy, and meaty texture. These kidney-shaped beans are as old as human civilization. Thousands of years ago, lima beans were cultivated by ancient civilizations of Andes region of South America and in Mesoamerica (Central America). These civilizations considered lima bean as an important part of their diet and culture. For example, the Moche Culture (1-800 AD) depicted lima beans in their art.
beans were introduced in Europe by the Spaniards who colonized Latin American nations. The beans were named after the City of Lima in Peru, which was the common place of origin of most of the beans exported to the rest of Americas and Europe.
Lima beans are 1 to 3 cm long and come with different colors: cream, green, purple, brown, or black. They are available in fresh, dried, and canned forms.
There are many people who cannot appreciate beans (like Lima beans) to the point that they do not eat them. They do not know that eating beans are beneficial to their body. Beans provide essential nutrients that help our body fight infection and disease. Continue reading to learn nutritional facts and health benefits of lima beans.
Lima Beans Nutritional Facts
1.0 cup (188.00 grams) cooked lima beans
- Dietary fiber: 13.16 g
- Protein: 14.66 g
- Molybdenum: 141.00 mcg
- Tryptophan: 0.17 g
- Manganese: 0.97 mg
- Folate: 156.23 mcg
- Potassium: 955.04 mg
- Iron: 4.49 mg
- Copper: 0.44 mg
- Phosphorus: 208.68 mg
- Magnesium: 80.84 mg
- Thiamin: 0.30 mcg
Lima Beans Health Benefits
Molybdenum, a trace mineral in lima bean, can help our body detoxify sulfites, preservatives that may cause rapid heartbeat, headache, disorientation, or allergy to people who are sensitive to them. Molybdenum is an integral part of the enzyme sulfite oxidase, which detoxifies sulfites in our body. A cup of lima beans will give us 86% of the recommended daily intake of molybdenum.
Lima beans have both soluble and insoluble fibers. Sixty five percent of the daily value for fiber can be obtained in just one cup of lima beans. What are the benefits of fibers to our body?
The soluble fibers absorb water in the stomach forming a gel that slows down the digestion of bean’s carbohydrates. As a result, absorption of carbohydrates is slowed down, preventing the rapid elevation of blood glucose which is not good to people with diabetes. Soluble fibers may also lower blood cholesterol levels by binding to bile acids, the digestive fluid involved in the formation of cholesterol. Bile acids bound to fibers exit the body through the feces. Less bile acid available, less cholesterol produced, less danger to the heart.
The insoluble fibers of lima beans help increase stool bulk and prevent constipation. Although insoluble fibers cannot be digested and absorbed, they help prevent colorectal cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, and diverticulitis. They help maintain stable intestinal pH and brushes away toxins.
Folic acid, a B vitamin, is an important compound in cell division, fetal development, red blood cell production, and other biological processes in the body. Folic acid deficiency can cause anemia and birth defects such as spina bifida, anencephaly, cleft lip, limb defects, and urogenital anomalies.
Folic acid is required for the metabolism of homocysteine, an amino acid. An elevated level of homocysteine in the blood is a risk factor for heart attack, stroke, and peripheral vascular diseases. Studies show that consumption of 100% of the daily value for folic acid significantly reduces the incidence of heart attacks suffered by Americans by 10%. Thirty nine percent of daily value for folic acid can be obtained in a cup of cooked lima beans.
Another essential mineral which you can get from eating lima beans is magnesium. It helps increase blood flow and lessens resistance by widening the blood vessels. Studies show that heart attack is associated to magnesium deficiency.
Iron is an integral component of hemoglobin, the part of red blood cells that transport oxygen to all our body cells. Oxygen is the fuel for cell respiration or energy production. Iron deficiency will make our red blood cells less efficient in transporting oxygen to various parts of our body. People with iron deficiency will experience the symptoms of anemia.
Iron has other roles in the body: part of key enzyme systems in the body for energy production and metabolism.
Lima beans also contain manganese, an important cofactor of enzymes like the oxidative enzyme superoxide dismutase which neutralize free radicals produced by mitochondrion, the powerhouse of the cell. Free radicals are atoms with unpaired electron. They can damage cell structures like DNA and cause diseases such as cancer, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and metabolic disorders.
Lima bean is a good alternative for meat as a source of protein. It contains all essential amino acids and has lesser fat and calories. Protein has many functions in our body. It functions as structural component of muscles, connective tissues, enzymes, organs, etc. A cup of cooked lima beans will give us 14.7 grams of protein or 29.3% of the daily value for protein.
We just learned that lima beans are good source of dietary fibers, molybdenum, iron, magnesium, folic acid, manganese, and proteins. We also learned the health benefits of these constituents of lima beans.[ad#afterpost]