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Health Benefits of Eating Lima Beans

Health Benefits of Lima Beans

Yes, you guessed it right – lima beans are good for you! Also known as the butter bean in the UK, the lima bean is an all-around healthy food that can supply your body with a slew of nutrients and phytochemicals that have been shown to provide many positive effects on human health. Here's a lowdown of some of the most interesting health benefits of lima beans:

Lima Beans in Cancer Prevention

A study published in the April 2006 issue of the journal Cancer Research suggests that legumes, like lima beans, may help protect the body from colorectal adenomas (also known as adenomatous polyps) which are known pre-cursors to colorectal cancer. The researchers used data from the Nurses' Health Study, one of the largest investigations of factors that influence women's health, and they limited the sample to only include individuals who had undergone colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy between 1980 and 1998. The researchers found that women who ate at least 4 servings of legumes a week were significantly less likely to have colorectal adenomas than women who consumed one serving a week or less.

A Treasure Trove of Minerals

Lima beans are packed with a wide range of minerals and trace elements including iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese, plus they contain a decent amount of zinc and selenium. Minerals act both individually and synergistically to perform hundreds of tasks in the human body. They help ensure, for example, that your bones, blood vessels, nerves, hair, skin and immune system stay strong and healthy. For details on the mineral composition of lima beans, see Nutrition Facts for Green and White Lima Beans.

Lima Beans Contain Molybdenum, an Overlooked Health-Protecting Nutrient

Lima beans are an excellent dietary source of molybdenum. Molybdenum, discovered in 1778 by the Swedish pharmacist Karl Scheele, is a trace mineral that plays an important yet overlooked role in human health and nutrition. By stimulating the production of detoxifying enzymes such as sulfite oxidase and aldehyde oxidase, molybdenum plays a vital role in the detoxification of the body. Let's take a quick look at how these two detoxifying enzymes can help boost your health:

  • Sulfite oxidase (SO) is responsible for the sulfoxidation process through which sulfites – which may have adverse health effects in sensitive individuals – are metabolized into non-toxic sulfates. The adverse health effects associated with the consumption of sulfite-containing foods range from headaches in individuals who are prone to migraine attacks to bronchoconstriction (narrowing of the airways in the lungs) in asthmatic patients.
  • Aldehyde oxidase detoxifies acetaldehyde which is a harmful substance that is formed as a byproduct of yeast and alcohol metabolism. Acetaldehyde is a harmful substance that deactivates delta 6 desaturase, an enzyme that is responsible for the production of gamma linolenic acid (GLA) from linoleic acid. GLA is an anti-inflammatory compound with wide-ranging health benefits. Acetaldehyde is also considered a potential human carcinogen.

Benefits Related to Lima Beans' Low GI Value

If you're still not convinced of the health benefits of eating lima beans, here's some more food for thought: Thanks to their high fiber and protein content, lima beans have a very low glycaemic index rating or GI value (32 to be precise). This low GI value is responsible for many of the nutritional and health benefits of lima beans. Also spelled glycemic index, the glycaemic index is used to classify foods based on how quickly they affect our blood glucose levels. The carbohydrates in foods that have a high GI value (such as dates, watermelon, mashed potatoes, and white bread such as baguettes) break down into simple sugars quickly and cause blood glucose to increase rapidly. This spike is followed by a steep decline in blood glucose levels. The rapid fluctuations in blood glucose levels are not healthy and can eventually lead to a wide range of health problems such as insulin resistance and diabetes, mood changes, lack of energy, hypertension and heart disease, and increased sugar cravings.

By contrast, low GI foods such as lima beans do not cause spikes and dramatic drops in blood glucose levels. As a result, these foods may help ward off sugar cravings, fight fatigue and mood swings, prevent the development of type 2 diabetes, and combat high LDL cholesterol levels and heart disease.

But the health benefits of consuming low GI foods do not end there. Low GI foods like lima beans also provide great weight loss benefits. When your blood glucose levels increase after eating a carbohydrate containing meal, your body starts begins to secrete a hormone called insulin. One of the most important tasks of insulin is to control the concentration of glucose in the blood, which it does by driving glucose from the blood into the your liver, muscle and fat cells where it can be stored as muscle – or as body fat. The uptake of glucose by your body's fat cells is particularly pronounced after the consumption of high glycaemic foods.

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