These are sometimes called "butter beans" because of their starchy yet buttery texture, these super beans have a delicate flavor that complements a wide variety of dishes.
Although fresh butter beans are often difficult to find, they're worth looking for in the summer and fall when they're in season.
These dried and canned super beans are available throughout the year.
The pod of this bean is flat, oblong and slightly curved, averaging about three inches in length.
Within the pod are the two to four flat kidney-shaped seeds that we call lima-beans.
The seeds are generally cream or green in color, although certain varieties feature colors such as white, red, purple, brown or black.
These super beans are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, as are most other legumes.
In addition to lowering cholesterol, lima-beans' high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia.
When combined with whole grains such as rice, lima-beans provide virtually fat-free high quality protein.
You may already be familiar with beans' fiber and protein, but this is far from all lima beans have to offer.
Sensitive to Sulfites?
Lima Beans May Help
Lima-beans are an excellent source of the trace mineral, molybdenum, an integral component of the enzyme sulfite oxidase, which is responsible for detoxifying sulfites.
Sulfites are a type of preservative commonly added to prepared foods like delicatessen salads and salad bars.
Persons who are sensitive to sulfites in these foods may experience rapid heartbeat, headache or disorientation if sulfites are unwittingly consumed.
If you've ever reacted to sulfites, it may be because your molybdenum stores are insufficient to detoxify them.
A cup of butter beans will give you 86.5% of the daily value for this helpful trace mineral.
A Fiber All Star
Check a chart of the fiber content in foods and you'll see legumes leading the pack.
Lima beans, like other beans, are rich in dietary fiber.
For this reason, lima beans and other beans are useful foods for people with irregular glucose metabolism, such as diabetics and those with hypoglycemia, because beans have a low glycemic index rating.
Lower Your Heart Attack Risk
Lima beans' contribution to heart health lies not just in their fiber, but in the significant amounts of folate, and magnesium these beans supply.
Folate helps lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is an intermediate product in an important metabolic process called the methylation cycle.
Elevated blood levels of homocysteine are an independent risk factor for heart attack, stroke, or peripheral vascular disease, and are found in between 20-40% of patients with heart disease.
Lima beans' good supply of magnesium puts yet another plus in the column of its beneficial cardiovascular effects.
Magnesium is Nature's own calcium channel blocker.
When enough magnesium is around, veins and arteries breathe a sigh of relief and relax, which lessens resistance and improves the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.
Lima Beans Give You Energy to Burn While Stabilizing Blood Sugar
In addition to its beneficial effects on the digestive system and the heart, lima beans' soluble fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels.
If you have insulin resistance, hypoglycemia or diabetes, lima beans can really help you balance blood sugar levels while providing steady, slow-burning energy.
Iron for Energy
In addition to providing slow burning complex carbohydrates, lima-beans can increase your energy by helping to replenish your iron stores.
A cup contains 24.9% of the daily value for this important mineral.
Particularly for menstruating women, who are more at risk for iron deficiency, adding to their iron stores with these super beans is a good idea, especially because, unlike red meat, another source of iron, lima beans are low in calories and virtually fat-free.
Manganese for Energy Production and Antioxidant Defense
Lima beans are a very good source of the trace mineral manganese, which is an essential co-factor in a number of enzymes important in energy production and antioxidant defenses.
Protein Power Plus
If you're wondering how to replace red meat in your menus, enjoy the buttery taste of lima beans.
Limas are a good source of protein, and when combined with a whole grain such as whole wheat pasta or brown rice, provide protein comparable to that of meat or dairy foods without the high calories or saturated fat found in these foods.
How to Choose and Store
If you purchase frozen lima beans, shake the container to make sure that the beans move freely and do not seem to be clumped together since the latter suggests that they've been thawed and then refrozen.
Store dried lima beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place where they'll keep for up to six months.
If you purchase the beans at different times, store them separately since they may feature varying stages of dryness and therefore will require different cooking times.
As cooked lima legumes are very perishable, they'll only keep fresh for one day even if placed in a covered container in the refrigerator.
Fresh lima beans should be stored whole, in their pods, in the refrigerator crisper where they'll keep fresh for a few days.
Frozen lima beans do not need to be thawed before being cooked.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas:
If you can find whole lima-beans in the market, you can serve them as an appetizer sprinkled with seasoning just like edamame (whole soy bean pods).
Mix puréed lima legumes with chopped garlic and your favorite fresh herbs.
Use this spread as a sandwich filling or a dip for crudité.
The heartiness of these super beans make them a great soup bean, especially when added to a soup that features root vegetables such as carrots, turnips, beets, and/or rutabagas.
For a twist on the traditional native American dish succotash, make lima bean burritos.
Fill corn tortillas with lima beans and corn kernels, and then top with chopped tomatoes, avocado and scallions.
Blend cooked lima beans and sweet potatoes together.
Serve this tasty dish on a plate accompanied by your favorite grain and fresh vegetable.
Lima beans are an excellent source of molybdenum and a very good source of dietary fiber and manganese.
One cup of cooked lima beans provides 13 grams of fiber, that's 52.6% of the DV.
Lima-beans are good sources of folate, protein, potassium, iron, copper, phosphorous, magnesium and thiamin.
Lima Beans with Wild Mushrooms and Chard
Lima beans have a bad reputation, but cooked properly they have a buttery texture and lovely, delicate flavor.
Makes 8 Servings
1 lb. dried lima-beans
3 1-1/2-oz. packages assorted dried wild mushrooms
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
6 c. (lightly packed) sliced stemmed Swiss chard
Place lima-beans in large bowl with enough water to cover by 5 inches.
Bring 2 c. water and dried mushrooms to boil in small saucepan.
Using slotted spoon, transfer mushrooms to medium bowl; reserve liquid in saucepan.
Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat.
Add onion and garlic; sauté until onion is tender, 10 minutes.
Drain beans; add to pot.
Pour in mushroom liquid, leaving sediment behind.
Add 6 c. water.
Bring to simmer; skim foam from top.
Stir in red pepper and thyme.
Simmer partially covered until beans are tender, 45 minutes.
Season with salt.
Chop mushrooms; add to pot.
Simmer uncovered over medium heat until beans and mushrooms are very tender, stirring occasionally and adding water to thin as needed, about 15 minutes longer.
Add chard to beans.
Cover pot; cook until chard is tender, stirring often, about 8 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.Tweet
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