Fava Beans vs Lima Beans: The Real Difference? 

fava beans vs lima beans

With the world increasingly veering toward healthy dietary choices, more and more information is coming up on fresh, nutritious ingredients. One vegetable that has proven its benefits time and again is beans, but not everyone knows the diverse variety of beans available at our disposal. Two types of beans that are known for their health benefits, alongside their versatility in the kitchen, are fava beans and lima beans.

If you cannot differentiate between these two, you are not the only one. With them looking quite similar, it’s easy to be confused. Additionally, given the fact that a vegan diet can be deficient in certain nutrients, it is in our best interest to study vegan-friendly foods, tell them apart and know what benefits they are associated with. In this article, we will be discussing broad beans vs lima beans: their health benefits, taste, origin, uses, texture, nutritional values, storage recommendations, and some more. But first, let’s understand them individually.

What Are Fava Beans?

What are fava beans

Widely known as “broad beans,” fava beans are indigenous to the Old World of North Africa. They have been around since 6000 BC, and they continue to be grown as a seasonal crop across the world. From African and Asian to American and European, fava beans can be added to diverse cuisines.

These green beans are covered with tough clear skin that must be removed before consumption. They can be quite hard to clean, making them more expensive compared to other similar beans.

What Are Lima Beans?

Fava Beans vs Lima Beans: The Real Difference? 

Lima beans get their name from their city of origin, Lima in, Peru. Dating back to 2000 BC, they are often termed as butter beans. There are numerous varieties of lima beans available in the market. One of the most famous and flavorful are baby lima beans.

Their milder flavor profile makes them a clear choice among foodies. Lima beans boast a plethora of health benefits, and their versatility in the kitchen knows no bounds. They are presently readily available globally, and they can elevate the flavor of any dish they are added to.

Fava Vs Lima Beans | What’s The Difference

fava beans vs lima beans

You might be thinking are fava beans and lima beans the same as they appear to be similar but they do differ a lot on various aspect. We have compared a few aspects of lima beans and fava beans based on origin, appearance, texture, etc.

1. Origin

Both fava and lima beans are extremely ancient legumes dating back thousands of centuries ago. However, the interesting thing to note is that their origin lies in polar opposite parts of the world. Lima beans originated in South America and got their name from Lima in Peru. On the other hand, Fava beans date back to the Old World of North Africa.

Fava beans are much older than their lima counterparts, going as far back as 6000 BC, whereas lima beans can be traced back to some 2000 BC. With fava beans grown for so long, there’s little knowledge of whether there ever were wild varieties. Their nutritional value has kept them alive as a viable dietary choice in the current age.

2. Taste

Fava beans have been described to have a rich nutty, and earthy taste with a silky and creamy texture after cooking. You can also avail a slightly cheesy alternative. Dried fava beans have a milder flavor than cooked or raw ones. They can be placed side by side with chickpeas.

As for lima beans, they generally have a starchy taste with a comparatively milder flavor profile. They have a rather regal taste with a buttery and velvety undertone. However, lima beans might have a harsh and off-putting taste when cooked.

3.Texture

Fava beans boast a firm texture that doesn’t crumble upon cooking. Their tender and slightly starchy texture help them grow creamy and soft when cooked. Juvenile fava beans can be consumed whole when raw, without their outer coats having to be peeled.

Lima beans tend to have a more grainy and starchy texture which many might not particularly grow a liking towards. Upon cooking, lima beans become softer than fava beans, so if you are looking for a firm and less starchy texture, dried buttery-tasting lima beans might be for you!

Lima beans cannot be consumed whole when raw due to linamarin’s presence, which turns to cyanide upon consumption. It could lead to severe organ damage, especially to the heart and the brain.

4. Storage

Fortunately, how you store these beans remains the same for both fava and lima beans. Refrigerate fresh fava and lima beans while they are still in their pods, and try using them within a few days. Store the pods in a plastic bag in the fridge. Dried fava and lima beans tend to last for over a year if stored in an airtight container away from heat, light, and moisture.

5. Health Benefits

Both fava and lima beans are packed with nutrients and are extremely good for our health. With fava beans, you not only get tons of helpful nutrients, but it also helps reduce the chances of Parkinson’s disease, congenital disabilities, anemia, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. They also act as immunity boosters and help in weight loss journeys.

Moreover, if you want to build good bone health, fava beans are a great option. Similarly, lima beans are also packed to the brim with helpful nutrients that stabilize blood sugar levels, promote a healthy heart, and support weight loss. They can and must be included in our daily diet.

6. Uses

Fava beans can be consumed raw, but they are generally stripped off the pods, shelled by snapping the pod’s stem-end and then tugging the string attaching the said pod capsules. Finally, the beans are popped out of their pods. These freshly shelled fava beans are blanched to get rid of the hard transparent skin.

Once the whole process is complete, fava beans can be consumed raw in green salads or even boiled, steamed, stewed, roasted, mashed, sauteed, and fried. They need to be soaked before cooking on low heat with a lot of water. They even can be added to falafel, stews, pastes, and soups. They are also used as one of the ingredients in vegan meat so as to increase the protein intake.  

Lima beans are also extremely versatile and hearty. Their creamy texture and mild flavor make them perfect for diverse dishes as a substitute for heavy, starchy items such as potatoes or rice. They can be added to salads, stews, dips, and spreads. They need to be boiled for at least 10 minutes to remove all toxins. Consume dried lima beans within a year for the flavor and health benefits.

Nutritional Value: Lima Beans Vs Fava Beans

Both fava and lima beans are legumes, so they are both extremely rich in fiber and protein. Fava beans are especially protein-rich with high folate, vitamin, and mineral content. However, among other vegan food options, they do not have the best amino-acid profile. Meaning, they could be classified as incomplete sources of protein. If you happen to train for hypertrophy or endurance as a strict vegan and design your own diet with heavy reliance on these for your protein, you might want to consider supplementing with vegan BCAAs or adding other high-protein vegan foods to your plate with better amino acid profiles.

Additionally, they are also packed with soluble fiber that assists in digestion and lowers cholesterol levels. Lima beans contain more calories, but they have high manganese levels that act as an antioxidant and assist in vital metabolic functions.

Here’s how a cup of cooked fava and lima beans look like in terms of their nutrient profile –

Nutritional FactsFava BeansLima Beans
Protein13 grams12 grams
Carbs33 carbs40 grams
Calories187 calories209 calories
Fiber9 grams9 grams
FatLess than 1 gramLess than 1 gram
Manganese36% of the Daily Value92% of the Daily Value
Magnesium18% of the Daily Value30% of the Daily Value
Folate40% of the Daily Value4% of the Daily Value
Phosphorus21% of the Daily Value19% of the Daily Value
Iron14% of the Daily Value23% of the Daily Value
Vitamin B1 and Zinc11% of the Daily Value20% of the Daily Value
Potassium13% of the Daily Value21% of the Daily Value
Copper22% of the Daily Value58% of the Daily Value

Can You Substitute Fava Beans And Lima Beans?

Fava beans can be easy substitute for lima beans and vice versa. They have slightly different tastes, but they are still interchangeable. Fava beans have a more robust flavor in comparison to mild lima beans, so make sure your fava beans do not overpower other ingredients. If you don’t have either, edamame beans are a good alternative with a similar flavor profile and cooking time. For lima beans the best substitute is kidney beans . Being rich in protein they are the most popular among the beans and are easily available.

Liked the comparison? I’ve a couple more roundups on bean comparisons that are often confused with one another. Find that here:

Final Verdict | Fava Beans vs Lima Beans 

If you are trying to put fava vs lima beans, the latter has more calories, so fava beans are better for a lesser calorie count. Additionally, if you prefer having beans raw, lima is not an option at all. But in general, both fava and lima beans are excellent additions to any dish due to their significant flavor profile as well as tons of health benefits.
Add a little to your daily diet, and you will be moving towards healthier choices already!

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