Often referred to as the “butter bean” due to its creamy texture and delicate flavor, these beans are exceptional for encouraging good health at any age. They come in a variety of different colors and are a great vegetable protein that can be complimented with a grain to provide a complete protein source. Not to mention beans are budget-friendly and significantly healthier than animal protein sources.
Regulating blood sugar: Like other legumes, lima beans are a low glycemic food and contributes health benefits that are particularly helpful for those with diabetes. The high fiber content helps regulate the rate in which glucose is taking up into the blood stream, preventing sharp peaks in blood glucose levels.
Weight loss: The soluble fiber in lima beans absorbs water to form a gel, which slows down the emptying of the stomach, thus making you feel fuller for a longer period of time.
Gut health: The insoluble fiber in beans have a laxative effect and add bulk to the diet, helping to prevent or treat constipation. Because the fibers are insoluble in water, they pass through the GI tract fairly intact, speeding up the passage of food through the gut.
Lowers cholesterol: Soluble fiber lowers the levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood and interfere with the absorption of dietary cholesterol. Eventually cholesterol found in the liver is released into the blood to make up for the lower blood cholesterol levels, which is then excreted out through the feces
Heart health: In a research study conducted among middle-aged men in the U.S., Europe, and Japan, results showed a higher consumption of legumes was associated with a 82% reduction in coronary heart disease risk! The soluble fiber is primarily responsible for the heart healthy benefits of lima beans. However there are other micronutrients such as folate and magnesium that contribute. Folate helps lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is an intermediate product in the metabolism of methyl. Elevated levels of homocysteine have been shown to increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. Magnesium, a calcium channel blocker, helps veins and arteries relax, lessening resistance and improving blood flow.
Purchasing, storing, & enjoying:
Purchasing: Dried lima beans can be purchased prepackaged or in bulk. Lima beans can also be purchased fresh, canned, or frozen. When buying canned lima beans look for low sodium options. Fresh lima beans should be firm, glossy, and free of blemishes, wrinkling, or yellowing.
Storing: Dried beans should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry, and dark place where they should keep for six months. Store fresh beans in the refrigerator. They are extremely perishable so they will hold for a few days.
Enjoying: Before cooking dried beans, look for stones, debris, or damaged beans. Place under cool water and rinse before cooking. To shorten the cooking time and make them easier to digest, presoak the beans overnight for at least eight hours. If short on time, boil the beans for a few minutes, remove from heat, and leave covered for two hours. Add beans to salads, soups, rice dishes, and stews.
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McIntosh M, Miller C. A diet containing food rich in soluble and insoluble fiber improves glycemic control and reduces hyperlipidemia among patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Nutr Rev 2001 Feb;59(2):52-5. 2001.
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