The Difference between Kidney Beans and Lima Beans

The use of kidney beans and lima beans in cooking has been around for centuries. It is not surprising, because beans add a unique flavor and texture to any dish. They are versatile because they are used in appetizers, main dishes and desserts. What makes kidney beans different from lima beans?


Kidney beans are usually dark red to reddish brown in color. They are shaped like small kidneys, hence the name. Lima beans, on the other hand, are generally cream or green in color. However, it is also common to find lima beans that are white, purple, red, orange, brown or black. They are usually curved, flat and oblong in appearance.


Kidney beans are known for their strong taste, while lima beans have a mild flavor and a starchy taste similar to that of potatoes.

Health Benefits

  • Cholesterol – Like most beans, kidney and lima beans have very little cholesterol content. In fact, incorporating beans in your diet can help lower the cholesterol levels in your body.
  • Proteins – Kidney and lima beans, like most legumes, are inexpensive and rich sources of protein. They are a great alternative to animal proteins for vegetarians who suffer from protein deficiency. In addition, you can eat beans with other carbohydrate sources like rice or whole grain for your complete supply of protein.
  • Blood sugar – Beans are known to regulate the blood sugar levels in the body. Stabilizing the blood sugar level is essential if you want to lose weight, because low blood sugar can cause major food cravings.
  • Fiber – Legumes, including kidney and lima beans, top the list of foods with high fiber content. Dietary fiber makes beans ideal for people with problems regulating their glucose metabolism, which leads to health issues like diabetes and hypoglycemia.
  • Iron – Anemia is one of the most common problems suffered by many, especially women, because of iron deficiency. If you are a vegetarian or on a low-fat diet, you can add kidney beans and lima beans to your diet to benefit from the high iron content of these foods.
  • Cardiovascular health – Beans are rich in folate and magnesium. Folate aids in lowering the levels of homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine in the blood causes the risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.

Moreover, magnesium helps improve the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body by relaxing the veins and arteries.

Cooking Time

Kidney beans and lima beans are available fresh, dried or canned. If you’re using fresh or dried beans, then the cooking time will be longer. The best way to cook the beans is to soak them in water overnight to soften the fresh beans and to rehydrate the dried ones. Canned beans are easier to deal with because they’re usually ready to use.

Alternative Names

Kidney beans are usually called common beans along with pinto, navy and black beans. Lima beans are also called butter beans because of the taste and flavor.

The differences in kidney and lima beans are mainly in their appearance, flavors and names, because they provide basically the same nutritional benefits.


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