Lima Bean Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Lima bean nutrition facts

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Lima beans are sometimes called butter beans because of their rich, buttery taste. They have a flat, greenish or whitish, oval-shaped appearance and are easily found in almost any grocery store. While many of us may have avoided eating lima beans as children, they are a smart food to add to your meals at any age. Lima beans are rich in nutrients, budget-friendly, and easy to prepare.

Lima Bean Nutrition Facts

One cup of boiled and drained lima beans, without salt (170g), provides 209 calories, 11.6g of protein, 40.1g of carbohydrates, and 0.5g of fat. Lima beans are an excellent source of vitamin C, fiber, and iron. The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA. 

  • Calories: 209
  • Fat: 0.5g
  • Sodium: 28.9mg
  • Carbohydrates: 40.1g
  • Fiber: 9.2g
  • Sugars: 2.8g
  • Protein: 11.6g
  • Vitamin C: 17.2mg
  • Iron: 4.2mg
  • Potassium: 969mg
  • Magnesium: 125.8mg
  • Folate: 44.2mcg
  • Choline: 75mg
  • Vitamin K: 10.5mcg
  • Vitamin B6: 0.3mg


Lima beans are naturally low in calories, but full of beneficial complex carbohydrates. There are three types of carbohydrates in a serving of lima beans: starch, fiber, and sugar.

More than half of the carbohydrates in lima beans come from starch. These carbohydrates provide the body with quick energy. The next-largest portion of carbs in lima beans is fiber. Fiber helps to stabilize blood sugar, boost satiety (feeling full), and improve digestive health. Lima beans also contain a small amount of naturally occurring sugar.

Lima beans have a glycemic index (GI) of about 46. (Foods with a GI of 55 or below are considered low glycemic foods.)

The glycemic load of a 100-gram serving of lima beans is about 7. Glycemic load takes the serving size of a food into account when estimating the food's effect on blood sugar. A glycemic load of less than 10 is thought to have little effect on blood glucose response.


There is about 1 gram of fat in a cup of lima beans, making them a naturally low-fat food. Additionally, most of that small amount of fat is polyunsaturated fat, which is considered "good fat" by health experts.


Each serving of lima beans provides nearly 11 grams of protein—slightly more than other types of beans. Lima beans, however, are not a complete protein. Complete proteins provide all of the essential amino acids that the body cannot make and therefore must be consumed in the diet. Eating foods from various protein sources each day will allow you to get all the amino acids you need.

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins in lima beans include folate (34 micrograms, or about 4% of the daily value). You also benefit from thiamin and smaller amounts of several B vitamins, along with vitamins K and E.

Minerals in lima beans include manganese, potassium, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron. Lima beans have more iron than several other types of beans, including kidney beans, chickpeas, and soybeans. Lima beans also contain small amounts of zinc, selenium, and calcium.


One cup of boiled lima beans provides 209 calories, 76% of which come from carbs, 22% from protein, and 2% from fat.


Lima beans are a low-fat source of healthy complex carbs, fiber, and protein. Lima beans are rich in potassium, iron, magnesium, and vitamin C. They also provide zinc, calcium, vitamin K, and vitamin A.

Health Benefits

Legumes, including lima beans, have been studied by nutrition researchers for years. They are a common food consumed around the world. Research suggests that increasing your intake of lima beans—or any bean—provides certain health benefits.

Helps With Weight Control

An evaluation of the nutritional value of legumes published in the journal Obesity Reviews determined that "replacing energy-dense foods with legumes has been shown to have beneficial effects on the prevention and management of obesity and related disorders, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome." Energy-dense foods are those that are high in calories but low in nutrients,

Study authors suggest replacing high-calorie, high-fat meaty foods (such as burgers and sausage) with beans or combining meat with legumes in the production of those foods to reduce fat and calorie content.

Lowers Cholesterol

Including beans in your diet may help lower LDL cholesterol (also known as "bad" cholesterol).

May Boost Gut Health

Beans are a good source of resistant starch, which is known to help feed the good bacteria colonies in the gut, contributing to a healthy gut microbiome.

Stabilizes Blood Sugar

Another review of studies found that increasing intake of beans, peas, and lentils (a group called "pulses") can help people with and without diabetes improve long-term glycemic control in their diets.

Supports Brain Health

Lima beans are a good source of manganese, a mineral vital to the health of the nervous system and brain.


Although allergy to lima beans is not common, it is possible. Allergies to other legumes, such as peanuts, soybeans, and lentils, are more prevalent. Some people who are allergic to one legume will also react to or be sensitive to others. If you have a legume allergy, speak to your doctor about which legumes are safe for you to eat.

Adverse Effects

Compounds that interfere with nutrient absorption are commonly referred to as "antinutrients." However, the term is misleading because this interference only occurs when the compounds are consumed in substantial amounts. The effects of antinutrients are negligible in the quantity of lima beans you are likely to consume.

One study specifically investigated antinutrients in lima beans. Researchers found that rinsing, cooking, and toasting the beans (specifically autoclaving—using a pressure chamber—for 20 minutes) significantly reduced or eliminated antinutrients in lima beans, except for tannins.

While you might not have an autoclave handy in your kitchen, you probably don't need to worry about antinutrients in grains and legumes. According to nutrition experts, the substances are deactivated in beans with appropriate soaking and cooking practices.

However, antinutrients may be a concern for people with anemia. If you've been diagnosed with this condition, or have other questions about antinutrients, speak with a registered dietitian for advice.

When They're Best

Lima beans are in season during the late summer and early fall, but most consumers can find lima beans in their grocery store year-round, in dried, frozen, and canned preparations. When you buy any legumes, look for whole, plump, uncracked beans that look fresh. Avoid beans or pods that look wilted, yellowish, dried, or spotted.

In most cases, frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts and usually cheaper. Just be sure to choose frozen beans with few or no added ingredients (like salt or sugars). Lima beans are also available canned, but they are often packaged in saltwater, adding upwards of 300mg sodium per 1/2 cup serving.

You can even grow your own. Lima beans are a great starter crop. They should be grown in full sun. They require about 60 to 90 warm, frost-free days to reach harvest.

Storage and Food Safety

The way that you store your beans depends on how you buy them: shelled or unshelled. Both should be stored in the refrigerator. Unshelled lima beans stay fresh for about seven days.

If you buy shelled beans, you can blanch them and put them in the freezer, where they will stay fresh for up to three months. Dried, you can store shelled lima beans in a cool, dry place for 10 to 12 months.

How to Prepare

Shell lima beans before you cook them by opening each pod and removing the beans. Rinse the beans in a colander before cooking. To cook fresh lima beans, add them to boiling salted water. Cook until tender, up to 60 minutes.

The buttery, mild taste of this bean makes it an easy side dish that pairs well with fish, meat, poultry, or grains. You can add lima beans to soups, salads, casseroles, a bean mash, or a dip. You can also use lima beans in place of other beans, like white beans, in most recipes.

11 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Malia Frey, M.A., ACE-CHC, CPT
 Malia Frey is a weight loss expert, certified health coach, weight management specialist, personal trainer​, and fitness nutrition specialist.