Benefits Of Lima Beans

Benefits Of Lima Beans:

Description

As lima beans are most often associated with succotash, a traditional Native American dish that combines this delicious bean with corn, many people think that they are native to the United States. Yet, one of lima beans' proposed places of origin, the place where the early European explorers were thought to have first discovered them, is actually reflected in its name "Lima," the capital of the South American country of Peru.

While there are many varieties of lima beans, the ones that are most popular in the U.S. are the Fordhook, commonly known as the butterbean, and the baby lima bean. The pod of the lima bean is flat, oblong and slightly curved, averaging about three inches in length. Within the pod reside two to four flat kidney-shaped seeds that are what we generally refer to as lima beans. The seeds are generally cream or green in color, although certain varieties feature colors such as white, red, purple, brown or black. Lima beans feature a starchy, potato-like taste and a grainy, yet slightly buttery, texture.

Nutritional Benefits

Lima beans, also known as butter beans, are in the legume family. This healthy bean is great in a variety of dishes, such as succotash. Lima beans also have excellent nutrition and health benefits that your body needs. You'll find these tasty beans at the grocery store, farmer's market and produce stand. They come in cans or frozen bags in a variety of product sizes. Before you ignore this food, take a look at the nutritional value of lima beans. You may be surprised.

Vitamins and Minerals

Lima beans are packed with wholesome goodness. The creamy and sweet taste makes this bean one of the most popular in the United States. Lima beans are a good source of vitamin B, calcium, iron, phosphorus and magnesium. These beans provide you with potassium as well. Potassium is an electrolyte that maintains and balances the fluid in your body.

Fiber

The soluble and insoluble fiber in lima beans lowers your cholesterol, fights heart disease and keeps your intestinal tract healthy. Soluble fiber absorbs liquid in the intestines and is believed to fight colon cancer. Insoluble fiber helps you pass stool easier. This type of fiber is absorbed slower than soluble fiber.

Fiber is also good for losing weight. It makes you feel full for a longer period of time than any other nutrient. You tend to eat smaller portions at meal time.

Protein

Lima beans provide healthy protein. Protein from legumes is much healthier for you than the protein found in meat. Lima beans are great for high protein diets.

Downside of Purines

Purines produce uric acid. It's important to monitor how much you eat. Although lima beans have other exceptional health benefits, you should eat them in moderation. Uric acid leads to heart disease, kidney stones and other health problems. Avoid lima beans if you have gout or kidney stones. Gout is a condition caused by uric acid in your joints.

Fat, Calories and Carbohydrates

Lima beans are low in fat, but higher in calories and carbohydrates. The fat content includes small quantities of saturated fats. These fats increase your chances of cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol. Carbohydrates in lima beans are good for your health. Unlike carbohydrates found in processed food, the carbs in beans provide nutrients. These nutrients help keep your weight down and provide energy when you need it. If consumed in moderation, lima beans are excellent for low carb diets.

Sodium

Lima beans are a source of low sodium. Sodium is another leading cause of bad health. Low sodium diets help lower high blood pressure.

Cholesterol

Lima beans are naturally low in cholesterol. In fact, they have 0g of cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease, heart attacks and stroke. Healthy foods, such as lima beans, help lower cholesterol levels in the blood.

Health Benefits

Lima 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 have ever reacted to sulfites, it may be because your molybdenum stores are insufficient to detoxify them. A cup of lima 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. This means that blood glucose (blood sugar) does not rise as high after eating beans as it does when compared to many other foods. This beneficial effect is probably due to two factors: the presence of higher amounts of absorption-slowing protein in the beans, and their high soluble fiber content. Soluble fiber absorbs water in the stomach forming a gel that slows down the metabolism of the bean's carbohydrates. The presence of fiber is also the primary factor in the cholesterol-lowering power of beans. Fiber binds with the bile acids that are used to make cholesterol.

Fiber isn't absorbed, so when it exits the body in the feces, it takes the bile acids with it. As a result, the body may end up with less cholesterol. Lima beans also contain insoluble fiber, which research studies have shown not only helps to increase stool bulk and prevent constipation, but also helps prevent digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis. Just one cup of lima beans will give you 65.8% of the daily value for fiber.

Lower Your Heart Attack Risk

In a study that examined food intake patterns and risk of death from coronary heart disease, researchers followed more than 16,000 middle-aged men in the U.S., Finland, The Netherlands, Italy, former Yugoslavia, Greece and Japan for 25 years. Typical food patterns were: higher consumption of dairy products in Northern Europe; higher consumption of meat in the U.S.; higher consumption of vegetables, legumes, fish, and wine in Southern Europe; and higher consumption of cereals, soy products, and fish in Japan. When researchers analyzed this data in relation to the risk of death from heart disease, they found that higher consumption of legumes was associated with a whopping 82% reduction in risk!!

A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine confirms that eating high fiber foods, such as lima beans, helps prevent heart disease. Almost 10,000 American adults participated in this study and were followed for 19 years. People eating the most fiber, 21 grams per day, had 12% less coronary heart disease (CHD) and 11% less cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to those eating the least, 5 grams daily. Those eating the most water-soluble dietary fiber fared even better with a 15% reduction in risk of CHD and a 10% risk reduction in CVD.

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. It has been estimated that consumption of 100% of the daily value (DV) of folate would, by itself, reduce the number of heart attacks suffered by Americans each year by 10%. Just one cup of cooked lima beans provides 39.1% of the DV for folate.

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. Studies show that a deficiency of magnesium is not only associated with heart attack but that immediately following a heart attack, lack of sufficient magnesium promotes free radical injury to the heart. Want to literally keep your heart happy? Eat lima beans. A cup of lima beans will provide you with 20.2% of the DV for magnesium.

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. Studies of high fiber diets and blood sugar levels have shown the dramatic benefits provided by these high fiber foods. Researchers compared two groups of people with type 2 diabetes who were fed different amounts of high fiber foods. One group ate the standard American Diabetic diet, which contained 24 grams of fiber/day, while the other group ate a diet containing 50 grams of fiber/day.

Those who ate the diet higher in fiber had lower levels of both plasma glucose (blood sugar) and insulin (the hormone that helps blood sugar get into cells). The high fiber group also reduced their total cholesterol by nearly 7%, their triglyceride levels by 10.2% and their VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoprotein--the most dangerous form of cholesterol) levels by 12.5%.

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 of lima beans 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 lima beans is a good idea especially because, unlike red meat, another source of iron, lima beans are low in calories and virtually fat-free.

Iron is an integral component of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to all body cells, and is also part of key enzyme systems for energy production and metabolism. And remember: If you're pregnant or lactating, your needs for iron increase. Growing children and adolescents also have increased needs for iron.

Manganese for Energy Production and Antioxidant Defense

Lima beans are a very good source of the trace mineral manganese, which is an essential cofactor in a number of enzymes important in energy production and antioxidant defenses. For example, the key oxidative enzyme superoxide dismutase, which disarms free radicals produced within the mitochondria (the energy production factories within our cells), requires manganese. Just one cup of lima beans supplies 48.5% of the daily value for this very important trace mineral.

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. And, when you get your protein from lima beans, you also get the blood sugar stabilizing and heart health benefits of the soluble fiber provided by these versatile legumes. A cup of lima beans will provide you with 14.7 grams of protein (that's 29.3% of the daily value for protein), plus 52.6% of the daily value for fiber. All this for a cost of only 216 calories with virtually no fat.

Consumption Tips

Before cooking, lima beans should be cleaned properly and thoroughly. First and foremost, remove any stones, debris or damaged beans present. This can be done by spreading them on a light colored plate and checking for the damaged particles. Once this is done, place the beans in a strainer and rinse them properly, under cool running water.

Pre-soaking of lima beans is very important to help in the process of their digestion. There are two methods of pre-soaking. In both the processes, you have to place the beans in a saucepan containing two to three cups of water per cup of beans.

In the first method of soaking lime beans, they have to be boiled in the saucepan for about 2 minutes and then allowed to stand for about 2 hours. The second method involves simply soaking the beans in the water for a period of about 8 to 9 hours. However, prior to cooking, remove the existing water and use fresh water to rinse the beans.

Lima beans can be cooked either in a pressure cooker or in a simple pot. However, the process of cooking them in a pot will take a little longer than cooking them in the cooker.

Caution

Purines are naturally-occurring substances found in plants, animals, and humans. In some individuals who are susceptible to purine-related problems, excessive intake of these substances can cause health problems. Since purines can be broken down to form uric acid, excess accumulation of purines in the body can lead to excess accumulation of uric acid. The health condition called "gout" and the formation of kidney stones from uric acid are two examples of uric acid-related problems that can be related to excessive intake of purine-containing foods. Yet, recent research has suggested that purines from meat and fish increase risk of gout, while purines from plant foods fail to change the risk.

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