Lima beans or butter beans: nutrition, uses and preparation

The Lima bean is a variety of legume that stands out for its contribution of essential nutrients. Its consumption provides several health benefits.

Last update: February 14, 2022

The lima bean—also called “butter beans”— is a delicious, creamy and soft legume It is valued for its nutritional properties. Its name refers to the city in which it was discovered, Lima, Peru. It is estimated that the indigenous people of this region have been cultivating it for more than 7,000 years.

Its scientific name is Phaseolus lunatus and is characterized by having a flat shape, similar to a kidney, with a mild flavor and a color that varies from green to whitish. It is considered a versatile ingredient as it can be incorporated into a wide variety of recipes. Do you want to know more about it? Keep reading!

Nutritional information of the lima bean or butter beans

According to information from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 170 grams of Lima beans, previously boiled and drained —equivalent to 1 cup of broad beans— provide the following nutrients:

  • calories: 209.
  • Protein: 11.6 grams.
  • carbohydrates: 40.1 grams.
  • sugars: 2.8 grams.
  • Fiber: 9.2 grams.
  • Fat: 0.5 grams.
  • Vitamin C: 19% of the Recommended Daily Value (DV).
  • Iron: 23% of the DV.
  • Manganese: 92% of the RV.
  • Copper: 58% of the RV.
  • Magnesium: 30% of the DV.
  • Potassium: 21% of the DV.
  • Thiamin: 20% of the DV.
  • Vitamin B6: 19% of the DV.
  • Match: 18% of the DV.
Vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats are the nutrients contained in Lima beans.

nutritional goodness

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), legumes represent the oldest crop of all seeds. Between these, Lima bean stands out for its abundant content of macro and micronutrients.


Lima bean proteins correspond to 12 grams per cooked cup. Specifically, they are abundant in lysine, but deficient in methionine, cystine, and tryptophan. Due to this, its simultaneous consumption is recommended with other seeds and foods of animal origin that increase the possibility of obtaining a more complete protein.


The fat content of these beans is so low that they are listed as one of the most recommended foods for reduced-calorie diets. According to the Journal of the Faculty of Medicine, these fats are essential for the body and contribute to optimal health.


Lima beans stand out for their variety in carbohydrates. From the most complex, such as starch and fiber, to the simplest, such as the sugars that give it its particular sweetness.

Starch acts as a source of energywhile fiber contributes to the following functions:

  • Regulate blood sugar.
  • Increase satiety.
  • Regulate weight control.
  • Promote the elimination of bad cholesterol.
  • Increase good cholesterol.
  • Promote gut health.

Vitamins and minerals

Like other seeds, Lima beans contain B complex vitamins, especially thiamine and vitamin B6, which cover 20% of the requirement.

Among the minerals in broad beans are manganese —with almost 100% of the recommended daily value—, magnesium and a higher iron intake than other legumes.

Potential Lima Bean Benefits

Beyond its nutritional advantages, the lima bean is valued for its health benefits. Of course, as long as its consumption is part of a healthy and varied diet.

heart health

Several researchers have concluded that the soluble fiber present in foods such as legumes have the ability to form gels that manage to reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol. In addition, it helps reduce high blood pressure levels and inflammation.

For its part, the magazine World Journal of Cardiology reported that lima beans contain enough antioxidants to protect the heart against oxidative stress and inflammation.

Healthy weight

A disclosure in Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism highlights that the high proportion of fiber in Lima beans provides satiety, since it delays the emptying of the stomach and promotes weight loss.

Also, due to its protein content, it helps in weight loss plans. According to studies, this macronutrient is involved in the feeling of satiety and appetite control.

blood sugar levels

Lima beans are classified as a “low glycemic index” food. Because of this, its consumption is associated with low blood sugar levels. However, it is believed that fiber plays a relevant role in this benefit, since it slows down the absorption of sugar in the intestine.

One review found that fava beans may help lower fasting blood sugar, which helps control type 2 diabetes. Clinical Nutrition Similar results were reported regarding daily consumption of legumes.

Contraindications of the lima bean or butter beans

Scientists have determined that one of the possible risks of consuming lima beans is an allergic reaction. However, it usually occurs in rare cases. To avoid it, the ideal is to consult the doctor, especially if there is a history of sensitivity to other legumes.

On the other hand, it must be considered that these foods contain antinutrients that, eaten in large quantities, can interfere with the absorption of certain essential nutrients.

  • To reduce this, it is recommended to cook and roast under pressure for 20 minutes.
  • Also, a practical way to reduce antinutrients is by soaking and cooking until softened.

How to prepare Lima beans?

To start, open the pod and remove the seeds. Rinse with the help of a sieve and cook them. If these are fresh, you can add them to boiling salted water. Now, just cook them for an hour or until they soften.

To reduce cooking time, the following tips should be put into practice:

  • If the Lima beans are not so fresh yet, it is advisable to soak them and take them to the fire for 2 minutes.
  • Then, they are kept with plenty of water for 2 hours. They are also kept refrigerated for 5 to 6 hours, before rinsing and boiling for 45 minutes.
  • Ideally, remove the foam that forms on the surface.
  • Salt and seasonings should be added at the end of cooking as this will increase their softening time.

The buttery taste of Lima beans It can be used to accompany poultry, meat, fish and other grains. In fact, they can be integrated into soups, stews, salads, taco fillings, purees, among other preparations.

Lima beans can be incorporated into soups, stews, meat dishes, salads, among other recipes.

How to make a lima bean soup with potato and leek?

Lima beans can be used in various preparations, since their creamy texture and mild flavor set the point gourmet to any recipe.


  • 1 can of 15 ounces of Lima beans without salt.
  • Olive oil (15 ml).
  • 1 leek (cut into julienne strips)
  • 4 cups of potato (400 g) (cut into cubes and peeled).
  • 3 cups of vegetable broth or low-sodium chicken broth (750 ml).
  • Bacon cooked and crumbled (to taste).
  • 3 cloves of crushed garlic.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper (1 g).
  • Chopped chives (15 g).
  • Low-fat Greek yogurt (15 g).


  • In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil over low heat.
  • Next, add the white part of the julienned leeks and the crushed garlic. Leave them until they soften
  • Next, add the potatoes and the broth. Cook over low heat with the pot covered, until the potatoes soften. Estimate a time of about 20 minutes.
  • Once each ingredient is soft, remove from the heat, let cool slightly and process in the blender.
  • Then gradually add the lima beans and pepper to taste.
  • Serve in a bowl and decorate with a tablespoon of yogurt, a teaspoon of spring onions and another of crumbled bacon.

Lima beans represent a type of legume that goes very well with a wide variety of dishes. Due to its smooth and creamy flavor, it is also known as butter beans.

In any case, It is a food with nutritional benefits that contribute to well-being. Therefore, it is worth integrating them into the diet on a regular basis.

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