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Lima bean vs. Fava beans — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian by Jack Yacoubian | Last updated on May 04, 2023
Medically reviewed by Igor Bussel Article author photo Igor Bussel
Lima bean
vs
Fava beans

Summary 

Lima beans are richer in fiber, manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamins B1, B5, and B6. Fava beans are richer in copper, phosphorus, vitamin b2, and folate. Fava beans can be eaten raw, but lima beans should be cooked because they contain cyanotic glycosides, which are toxic. 

Introduction

In this article, we will compare two types of legumes; lima beans and fava beans. These beans are commonly used around the world. Noting that lima beans are used more in European and American cuisine. In comparison, fava beans are used more in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. 

Lima beans are also known as butter beans because of their smooth and creamy texture after cooking. On the other hand, fava beans are known as broad beans. 

Taste 

Lima beans are smooth and creamy with a nutty flavor after cooking. Fava beans have a sweeter flavor than lima beans. In comparison, fava beans can be eaten raw or cooked, and they have a different flavor profile when it's cooked or not. 

Nutritional content comparison

This section will compare 100g of each in cooked forms. 

Calories

Lima beans contain 115 b, and fava beans contain 110 calories. They have similar amounts. 

Carbs

They have nearly equal amounts of carbs. Approximately 20g for each. 

Fiber

They are both excellent sources of fiber. 

Lima beans are richer in fiber than fava beans. Lima beans contain 7.4g of fiber, and fava beans contain 5g. 

Protein 

They have similar amounts of proteins, about 7.7g for each. 

Fats

Their fat content is negligible.

Macronutrient Comparison

Macronutrient breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Other +42%
Equal in Protein - 7.6
Equal in Fats - 0.4
Equal in Carbs - 19.65
Equal in Water - 71.54
8% 21% 70%
Protein: 7.8 g
Fats: 0.38 g
Carbs: 20.88 g
Water: 69.79 g
Other: 1.15 g
8% 20% 72%
Protein: 7.6 g
Fats: 0.4 g
Carbs: 19.65 g
Water: 71.54 g
Other: 0.81 g
Contains more Other +42%
Equal in Protein - 7.6
Equal in Fats - 0.4
Equal in Carbs - 19.65
Equal in Water - 71.54
 

To read more about different types of bean comparisons, you can read about navy bean vs. green bean or kidney bean vs. pigeon bean

Minerals

Lima beans are richer in manganese, potassium, and iron. In comparison, fava beans are richer in copper and phosphorus. 

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Contains more Iron +59.3%
Contains more Potassium +89.6%
Contains less Sodium -60%
Contains more Manganese +22.6%
Contains more Selenium +73.1%
Contains more Calcium +111.8%
Contains more Phosphorus +12.6%
Contains more Copper +10.2%
Equal in Magnesium - 43
Equal in Zinc - 1.01
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 6% 90% 31% 48% 45% 1% 26% 79% 68% 25%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 11% 57% 31% 54% 24% 1% 28% 87% 55% 15%
Contains more Iron +59.3%
Contains more Potassium +89.6%
Contains less Sodium -60%
Contains more Manganese +22.6%
Contains more Selenium +73.1%
Contains more Calcium +111.8%
Contains more Phosphorus +12.6%
Contains more Copper +10.2%
Equal in Magnesium - 43
Equal in Zinc - 1.01
 

Vitamins 

Lima beans are richer in vitamins B1, B5, and B6. In comparison, fava beans are richer in vitamins B2 and folate. 

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
:
Contains more Vitamin E +800%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +66%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +168.8%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +123.6%
Contains more Vitamin A +∞%
Contains more Vitamin C +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +61.8%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +68.9%
Contains more Folate +25.3%
Contains more Vitamin K +45%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 0% 4% 0% 0% 41% 13% 8% 26% 38% 63% 0% 5%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 1% 1% 0% 1% 25% 21% 14% 10% 17% 78% 0% 8%
Contains more Vitamin E +800%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +66%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +168.8%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +123.6%
Contains more Vitamin A +∞%
Contains more Vitamin C +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +61.8%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +68.9%
Contains more Folate +25.3%
Contains more Vitamin K +45%
 

Health impacts

Digestion

Section reviewed by gastroenterologist Arpi Gasparyan Article author photo Arpi Gasparyan

Both beans are a rich source of fiber; however, since they are richer in fiber, lima beans are ideal legumes to add to our diets. A high-fiber diet decreases the risks of colorectal cancer and diverticular disease and improves gut microbiome and bowel movements. (1)(2)(3)

Unlike lima beans, fava beans are high in FODMAPs, poorly digested carbs that may cause bloating, gases, and abdominal pain.  People with IBS or on a low FODMAP diet should avoid fava beans. 

G6P deficiency patients 

Individuals with G6P deficiency should not consume fava beans since they induce a hemolytic attack. Foods that are often cooked with fava beans should be restricted, falafel is more often done with fava beans, and this should be restricted. (5)

Cyanogenic glycosides

It is important to cook and properly prepare lima beans because they contain toxic cyanogenic glycosides in humans. By thoroughly cooking lima beans, this toxin is eliminated. (6)
Fava beans can be eaten raw; they do not contain cyanogenic glycosides. 

Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian
Education: Haigazian Medical University
Last updated: May 04, 2023
Medically reviewed by Igor Bussel

Infographic

Lima bean vs Fava beans infographic
Infographic link

Fat Type Comparison

Fat type breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains less Saturated Fat -25.8%
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +132.4%
Equal in Polyunsaturated fat - 0.164
30% 12% 58%
Saturated Fat: 0.089 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.034 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.171 g
21% 26% 53%
Saturated Fat: 0.066 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.079 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.164 g
Contains less Saturated Fat -25.8%
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +132.4%
Equal in Polyunsaturated fat - 0.164

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the rightmost column. It displays the amounts side by side, giving a clearer understanding of the difference.
Lima bean Fava beans
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Glycemic Index ok
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in price ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal
Rich in minerals Equal
Rich in vitamins Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Lima bean Fava beans Opinion
Net carbs 13.88g 14.25g Fava beans
Protein 7.8g 7.6g Lima bean
Fats 0.38g 0.4g Fava beans
Carbs 20.88g 19.65g Lima bean
Calories 115kcal 110kcal Lima bean
Sugar 2.9g 1.82g Fava beans
Fiber 7g 5.4g Lima bean
Calcium 17mg 36mg Fava beans
Iron 2.39mg 1.5mg Lima bean
Magnesium 43mg 43mg
Phosphorus 111mg 125mg Fava beans
Potassium 508mg 268mg Lima bean
Sodium 2mg 5mg Lima bean
Zinc 0.95mg 1.01mg Fava beans
Copper 0.235mg 0.259mg Fava beans
Manganese 0.516mg 0.421mg Lima bean
Selenium 4.5µg 2.6µg Lima bean
Vitamin A 0IU 15IU Fava beans
Vitamin A RAE 0µg 1µg Fava beans
Vitamin E 0.18mg 0.02mg Lima bean
Vitamin C 0mg 0.3mg Fava beans
Vitamin B1 0.161mg 0.097mg Lima bean
Vitamin B2 0.055mg 0.089mg Fava beans
Vitamin B3 0.421mg 0.711mg Fava beans
Vitamin B5 0.422mg 0.157mg Lima bean
Vitamin B6 0.161mg 0.072mg Lima bean
Folate 83µg 104µg Fava beans
Vitamin K 2µg 2.9µg Fava beans
Tryptophan 0.092mg 0.072mg Lima bean
Threonine 0.337mg 0.27mg Lima bean
Isoleucine 0.411mg 0.306mg Lima bean
Leucine 0.673mg 0.572mg Lima bean
Lysine 0.523mg 0.486mg Lima bean
Methionine 0.099mg 0.062mg Lima bean
Phenylalanine 0.449mg 0.321mg Lima bean
Valine 0.469mg 0.338mg Lima bean
Histidine 0.238mg 0.193mg Lima bean
Saturated Fat 0.089g 0.066g Fava beans
Monounsaturated Fat 0.034g 0.079g Fava beans
Polyunsaturated fat 0.171g 0.164g Lima bean

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Lima bean Fava beans
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low Glycemic Index diet ok

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Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score

The summary scores indicate the extent to which this food can fulfill your daily vitamin and mineral requirements if you consume 3 servings, consisting of 100 grams of each (an approximation of 3 serving sizes).
Vitamins Daily Need Coverage Score
16%
Lima bean
14%
Fava beans
Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
41%
Lima bean
36%
Fava beans

Comparison summary

Which food contains less Sodium?
Lima bean
Lima bean contains less Sodium (difference - 3mg)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Lima bean
Lima bean is lower in glycemic index (difference - 47)
Which food is lower in Sugar?
Fava beans
Fava beans is lower in Sugar (difference - 1.08g)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Fava beans
Fava beans is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.023g)
Which food is cheaper?
Fava beans
Fava beans is cheaper (difference - $1.2)
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)
Which food is richer in minerals?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.
Which food is richer in vitamins?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.

References

All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Lima bean - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/174253/nutrients
  2. Fava beans - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173753/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.