In the South, people call them butter beans, but you may also know them as immature lima beans. The bean is believed to have originated in Guatemala and was a major food source for the American Indian. Like other beans, the butter bean is a well-rounded source of nutrition, rich in protein, fiber, iron and B vitamins.
A 1/2-cup serving, which is 130 grams, of butter beans contains 100 calories, or just 77 calories per 100 grams of beans. Butter beans are considered a low-energy-dense food, which means it has a low-calorie content compared to its serving size. Including more low-energy-dense foods in your diet helps control hunger when limiting your calorie intake to help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
Carbs are an essential component of your diet, providing your body with energy. While carbs are found in a variety of different foods, it is important that most of your carbs come from healthy sources. The Harvard School of Public Health considers beans like butter beans to be among your healthiest choices. A 1/2-cup serving of butter beans contains 17 grams of carbs and 4 grams of dietary fiber. Additionally, getting more fiber-rich foods in your diet, like butter beans, can help lower your risk of heart disease and promote a healthier weight.
Rich In Protein, Not In Fat
Butter beans are such a good source of protein that they are considered a protein food like meat and chicken. And as a very low-fat source of protein, butter beans make a healthy alternative to fatty meats that are high in the cholesterol-raising saturated fat, such as marbled red meat. A 1/2-cup serving of butter beans contains 5 grams of protein and 1 gram of fat.
Vitamins and Minerals
Butter beans are a good source of iron, zinc and magnesium, which are also nutrients found in poultry, meat and seafood -- another reason the beans are considered a protein food. A 1/2-cup serving of the bean meets 10 percent of the daily value for iron and zinc and 15 percent of the daily value for magnesium. You need adequate intakes of iron to help transport oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. Zinc is a mineral that helps keep you from getting sick and is also necessary for healing cuts. Magnesium helps make protein and is needed for producing energy. Butter beans are also a source of B vitamins, specifically thiamin, riboflavin and folate, which are necessary for turning the carbs you eat into energy.
- Texas A & M Agrilife Extension: Two New Beans From America
- Eden Foods: Butter Beans
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Low-Energy-Dense Foods and Weight Management: Cutting Calories While Controlling Hunger
- Harvard School of Public Health: Carbohydrates: Quality Matters
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Health Implications of Dietary Fiber
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Iron
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Magnesium
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Zinc
- MedlinePlus: B Vitamins