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Popular Lima Beans

Popular Lima Beans

Popular Lima Beans in the U.S.

Lima beans are among the most popular shell beans in the United States. These smooth, flat shaped, sweet tasting beans have a rich, starchy, meaty texture and a creamy, distinctive flavor.

Lima beans are nutrient-dense and their richness generates feelings of satiety (they make you feel full). Often referred to in some southern states in the U.S. as "butter beans," lima beans date back to 5,000 BC along the coastal regions of South America.

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.

A Bit of Lima Bean History

Lima beans are believed to have originated in Guatemala and Southern Mexico and were traded along routes that led into North America, and eventually were carried to Europe, Asia, and Africa. 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.

Early explorers stored dry lima beans for long periods on their ships, recognizing that lima beans were a nutritious and highly concentrated food source for the sailors.

Nutrition Information

In fact, lima beans are a good source of B vitamins (vitamin B6, niacin, folate), protein (including the important amino acid lysine), fiber (especially soluble fiber in the form of pectin), iron, potassium, and magnesium; and they have very little fat.

Studies suggest that intake of beans can help to lower LDL cholesterol levels, probably due to their soluble fiber content. Lima beans also contain the phytochemicals coumestrol and saponin, compounds that may impart anticancer benefits.

Fresh beans, such as baby limas, soybeans, and black-eyed peas, can be found at farmers' markets and in the produce section of some grocery stores. Fresh beans require very little cooking time, as they have not been dried and don't have to be rehydrated.

Try bean salsas; prepare a tomato salsa and add cooked beans, such as black beans, baby limas, white beans, or kidney beans. Leave the salsas chunky to add texture.

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.

Luscious Lima Bean Soup Recipe

Lima Bean Soup 1 pound dry lima beans
4 cups water
5 carrots, chopped
1 leek, bulb only, chopped
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 cubes vegetable bouillon
8 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add dry lima beans, and boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and allow the beans to sit, covered, for 1 to 2 hours to soften. Drain and rinse until water runs clear, discarding bean water.

In a soup pot, saute vegetables in olive oil until onions and celery are translucent. Add lima beans, and saute for another 2 to 3 minutes.

In the meantime, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the vegetable bouillon to the boiling water, and stir until dissolved. Add broth to the sauteed vegetables and beans. Add remaining water, and allow soup to simmer over a low flame for 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Serve steaming hot. Yield: 9 servings

Nutrition information per serving: Calories: 221; Total Fat: 3.5g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 42mg; Total Carbohydrates: 37.5g; Dietary Fiber: 10.9g; Protein: 11.4g

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