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      Lima Beans vs Edamame: Difference + Nutrition Comparison

      They have a similar shape and a similar color, but they are not the same vegetable. So what’s the difference between lima beans vs edamame? 

      lima beans vs edamame

      What are edamame beans?

      Edamame beans are green, immature soybeans and are a common dish in Japanese cuisine. They come in a green, slightly curved pod and are typically boiled or steamed and lightly salted. They can be served in their pod or as individual beans. 

      Most commonly they are served as a side dish, appetizer or snack. Since they come in a handy little pouch, they are great to eat on the go. 

      Where are they from?

      Edamame beans originate from East Asia and have been a huge part of Japanese cuisine for centuries. In Japanese, edamame translates to “bean branch”. This word dates back as early as the 1630s, though the vegetable has been grown as a crop in Japan for over 2000 years. 

      Despite its popularity in Japan, it’s originally native to China, where it’s been grown for over 5000 years. Now, it’s consumed all over the world, but is still a staple food in Japanese cuisine.

      What dishes are they used in?

      Typically, edamame is consumed as a side dish, appetizer or snack. It is steamed or boiled in its pod and topped with a light layer of salt.

      That being said, it’s also included in a few dishes in Japanese cuisine such as Japanese fried rice and various salad dishes. 

      Where can you buy them?

      You should be able to find edamame at most grocery stores. They may be in the fresh produce or in the frozen produce section. Edamame is just as good cooked fresh as it is defrosted or cooked from frozen.

      If you are unable to find edamame at your local grocery store, try an Asian grocery store or local farmer’s market. You can also order edamame online if you can’t find any at either of these locations.

      lima beans vs edamame

      What are lima beans?

      Lima beans are a kind of bean which comes in a slightly curved green pod. The size, shape and color of the pod depends on the variety of lima beans.

      The beans themselves (inside of the pod) have a slightly nutty flavor and a creamy texture. They are most often served in the bean form, outside of the pod. 

      Butter beans and giant white beans are different varieties of lima beans that are commonly seen today. 

      Where are they from?

      Lima beans are a type of legume native to Central America and it is commonly grown there and in South America. 

      The name “lima” comes from the capital of Peru, Lima. This is where lima beans were first discovered. They have been cultivated there for over 9000 years. 

      What dishes are they used in?

      Lima beans are used in a variety of recipes around the world. They’ve even become an integral part of Southern cooking in the United States. 

      Other popular dishes include Gigantes (Greek lima beans), Peruvian lima beans and Habichuelas Guisadas (Puerto Rican lima beans).

      Where can you buy them?

      You should be able to find lima beans at your local grocery store in the fresh produce or frozen produce section. If you are unable to find them there, try an international grocery store or online.

      lima beans vs edamame

      Nutrition Comparison: Lima Beans vs Edamame

      Now that we’ve gone over the definitions and origins of lima beans and edamame, let’s discuss the nutritional differences. 

      Calories

      One cup of lima beans contains about 209 calories while one cup of edamame contains about 254 calories

      While the amount of calories is pretty similar between the two beans, lima beans clearly have fewer calories than edamame.

      Protein

      One cup of lima beans contains about 12 grams of protein, while one cup of edamame contains about 22 grams of protein

      While both are a good source of protein, edamame is the clear winner here with an extra 10 grams of protein per cup.

      Edamame is also a complete protein source, meaning it contains adequate amounts of all essential amino acids, while lima beans only contain most essential amino acids. 

      Carbohydrates

      One cup of lima beans contains 40 grams of carbohydrates and 9 grams of fiber, while one cup of edamame contains 20 grams of carbohydrates and 8 grams of fiber

      Overall, they contain around the same amount of dietary fiber, but lima beans contain double the amount of the carbohydrates per cup.

      If you are diabetic or have insulin sensitivity, edamame may be the better choice due to it being much lower in overall carbohydrates. 

      Fat

      One cup of lima beans contains 0.5 grams of fat, while one cup of edamame contains 12 grams of fat. Clearly edamame is the higher fat option.

      It’s also important to note where these fats come from. The fats in edamame come mostly from unsaturated fatty acids, which have a positive effect on cholesterol and overall heart health. 

      ​Micronutrients

      Lima beans are a good source of vitamin B (excluding vitamin B12), folate, vitamin C, vitamin K, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.

      Edamame are a good source of vitamin B (excluding vitamin B12), folate, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. 

      Overall, their micronutrient profile is similar, with the biggest difference being that edamame contains a good amount of calcium. 

      lima beans vs edamame

      Best substitutes for edamame or lima beans

      If you are unable to find edamame or lima beans, there are several other beans that can be good substitutes. Here are a few that can work well:

      • Black beans
      • Black-eyed peas
      • Green peas 
      • Garbanzo beans
      • Pinto beans
      • Kidney beans
      • Broad beans
      • Navy beans
      • Great northern beans
      lima beans vs edamame

      Frequently Asked Questions

      Do edamame beans contain soy?

      Yes, edamame beans are immature soybeans. If you have a soy allergy, you will need to avoid all soy products which include edamame, tofu, natto, miso, tempeh, soy sauce, tamari and soy milk. Lima beans, on the other hand, are soy free and safe to consume.

      Can you make soy milk from edamame? 

      No. Soy milk is made from soybeans, not edamame. Even though edamame are a kind of soybean, they are immature soybeans, which are not interchangeable with mature soybeans. You can also buy soymilk at the store as opposed to making it yourself from scratch. 

      Does edamame increase risk of breast cancer?

      No, it does not. There is a common belief in the nutrition world that soy causes breast cancer or negatively impacts hormone levels. This is simply a myth and has no evidence to support it. That being said, there is evidence to suggest soy can reduce risk of breast cancer.

      Something to consider is that soy foods like edamame have been consumed in Japanese cuisine for centuries and Japan and East Asia as a whole consistently have lower rates of breast cancer compared to Western countries.  

      Overall, I wouldn’t worry about the health risks of soy unless you are consuming large amounts on a daily basis. Please speak to your doctor if you have any personal concerns.

      Are edamame and lima beans vegan?

      Yes, both edamame and lima beans are vegan and can be consumed in a plant-based diet. In fact, they can be a wonderful source of protein if you are avoiding animal products like meat and dairy. 

      Are edamame or lima beans healthier?

      Unfortunately, it’s impossible to say which food is “healthier”. Both edamame and lima beans have health benefits and a high nutrient content. Edamame is higher in protein and healthy fats, while lima beans are lower in calories and slightly higher in fiber. Both are a great additional to a healthy, balanced diet. 

      Are edamame or lima beans better for weight loss? 

      Again, this is hard to say. While lima beans are lower in calories, edamame is higher in protein, which can help promote satiety and keep you fuller for longer. Everyone is different, so try both and see which one is more satisfying. Overall, both are high in fiber and can be great for weight loss. 

      Are edamame or lima beans better for cholesterol?

      Both edamame and lima beans are good foods for maintaining healthy blood cholesterol levels. They are high in fiber and beneficial micronutrients like calcium and potassium. Plus, they are both low in saturated fats. 

      Since unsaturated fats and calcium are beneficial for heart health, edamame could be a better option, but this largely depends on the individual. Try adding a handful of edamame to your diet daily and see how it impacts your LDL cholesterol levels. 

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      tia glover rd

      My name is Tia and I am a registered dietitian and content creator.

      My goal is to help young people learn how to eat a nutritious, balanced diet without restriction or giving up cultural foods. 💛

      Hapa/Japanese American 🇺🇸🇯🇵

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