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Lima Beans

A Description

Lima beans are leguminous plants that are grown for theirs seed and are generally eaten in the form of vegetables. The scientific name of lima beans is 'Phaseolus lunatus'. Other names by which lima beans are known include 'butter' beans, 'haba' bean, 'pallar' beans, 'burma' beans, 'guffin' beans and 'hibbert' beans. These beans are highly nutritious and usually come in two sizes. The larger of these two sizes is believed to have been first grown in Andes, while the smaller part was grown in Mesoamerica in about 800 AD. Lima beans have a delicate flavor that make them ideal to be used in a wide variety of dishes.

Types of Lima Beans
There are two main types of lima beans available in the world. These are:

  • Bush Lima Beans: The bush lima beans have large seeds and produce very high yield. They produce edible seeds that are small and flat. The seeds should be sown after the last frost date. Care should be taken to ensure that the seeds do not remain soaked in water for too long as it will not help in their germination. Bush lima beans are otherwise very easy to cultivate, producing buttery flavored beans that turn ivory white in color when dried completely
  • Pole Lima Beans: Pole lima beans have pods that are 41/2 inch thick and produce high yield. However, they require a longer growing season than bush lima beans. They also require the support of a fence or a tepee to grow. The seeds of pole beans should be planted keeping a distance of at least 6 inches and in rows that are at least 36 inches apart. Pole beans have have more flavor than bush beans and they have the ability to mature throughout the growing season
 
History of Lima Beans

The cultivation of lima beans began in Peru in around 6000 BC. These beans were discovered by the explorers of Europe in Lima, Peru's capital, and thus they named it as 'lima'. These explorers noticed that different varieties of beans were growing throughout Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Since lima beans can be stored for a long time, the Spanish explorers during the 1500s found it ideal to replenish their food stock while traveling by ship. These beans were later introduced in Africa and Asia, while in USA, these were introduced in the 19th century.
 
Nutritional Components of Lima Beans
Lima beans contain many important nutrients that help in the proper growth of our body and mind. Some of the nutrients that are present in lima beans are:
  • Vitamins: Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Folate and Pantothenic Acid
  • Minerals: Boron, Calcium, Chloride, Chromium, Copper, Iron, Iodine, Magnesium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium, Sodium, Zinc, etc.
  • Other Nutrients: Carbohydrates, Dietary Fibers and Protein.
 
Advantages Associated with Lima Beans
  • Since lima beans contain adequate amount of molybdenum, they help in detoxifying sulphites, which are added in prepared foods to increase their taste value. People sensitive to these sulphites may experience increased heart beats or headache. Thus, it is recommended to add lima beans to these food to detoxify these sulphites
  • Lima beans are also rich in dietary fibers that help in lowering cholesterol as well as blood sugar levels. Thus, lima beans are a very good source of food for people suffering from diabetes. The presence of fibers also helps in stabilizing the glucose metabolism and also in preventing constipation
  • Lima beans are also rich in iron, the source that helps in a proper blood circulation as well as in replenishing lost energy. It is highly recommend in case of pregnant women who need iron for an improved level of hemoglobin both for themselves as well as for their unborn child
  • Manganese, present in lima beans, is a vital element of many enzymes that act as a catalyst in the creation of energy as well as antioxidants
  • Lima beans also contain a fairly good amount of protein and when eaten with rice, give protein that are free of high calories. They, thus, help in lowering the risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases
  • They also help in improving the immune systems, thereby enabling people to fight fever and more dreadful disease like HIV/AIDS.
Storage of Lima Beans

Before cooking lima beans, the raw beans should be stored properly. Lima beans inside the pod are unshelled beans and these unshelled beans should be pre-cooled at a temperature of 41° to 43° F. For shelled beans, 37° to 39°F is an ideal temperature in which these should be stored. 95% relative humidity is required for the shelled beans which should be stored for at least 7 days.

How to Cook Lima Beans?
  • The lima beans should be properly washed before cooking them to weed out every toxins present in the beans and they should be left for drying
  • Once they have been completely dried, these lima beans should be soaked overnight
  • Then rinse them by putting them under cold running water
  • Put these beans in a large pot and boil them for at least 5 minutes
  • Remove the beans from the heat, cover them with water and cook for at least 45 minutes
  • During the cooking process, foams may develop around the edge of the utensil in which it is cooked. Just skim off  these foams
  • One should never add any seasoning that is salty or acidic in nature until the beans have been completely boiled as adding them a little earlier can make these beans tough, apart from increasing the cooking time.
Safety Note
Lima beans contain cyanide compounds that are fatal if eaten in raw form or in the form of grinded bean flour. Soak and cook them properly as these processes efficiently help in killing these harmful toxins.