Edamame Vs Lima Beans, What is the Difference? (Plus Nutrition)

Popular in many cultures and found throughout the world. Beans have an array of health benefits and can be quite tasty as well! With so many to choose from, let’s look at the difference between two of the most popular ones- edamame vs lima beans.

Key Differences Between Edamame Vs Lima Beans

While edamame and lima beans are both shelled beans, they have several differences. The key differences between edamame vs lima beans are that edamame is a complete protein source, containing all nine essential amino acids. Edamame beans are a (young) soybean, and lima beans are not soybeans. They will also have different tastes that are discussed below.

Types of Beans

Beans are an important part of eating a well-rounded and plant-based diet. There are two types of fresh beans, edible-pod beans, and shell beans. Edible-pod beans are eaten in their entirety, including the pod-such as green beans, also known as string beans and snap beans. Shell beans include edamame, lima beans, and fava beans. Shell beans that are harvested young can be eaten in their entirety or shelled for the beans. As they mature, typically, the pod is removed, and only the bean is eaten.

Are Lima Beans and Edamame Legumes?

Yes, in fact, all beans are a subgroup of legumes. This includes soybeans, which edamame is a type of soybean. Other beans such as navy beans, kidney beans, lima beans, pinto beans, black beans, string beans (green beans ), and garbanzo beans (chickpeas) are also part of the legume family. It’s important to note that some people with a soy allergy may also react to other legumes.

Green edamame pods. 3 green edamame beans inside of an edamame pod.
Edamame Pods and Edamame Beans


Another name for edamame is immature green soybean or young soybean, as they are soybeans that are harvested when the beans are still young and soft and a deep brighter green color. Edamame is of Chinese origin, dating back thousands of years. It was later introduced to Japan, where it has been popular ever since.

What Does Edamame Taste Like?

Edamame beans have a light buttery pea taste with a hint of sweetness and nuttiness. Cooked al dente (slightly firm) are firmer than a pea but soft with a flavor kick. After being cooked or boiled, they can be shelled and added to other dishes, or you can easily suck the beans out of their shells.

What can Edamame be substituted with?

A few good edamame substitutes are green peas, fresh fava beans or broad beans, and lima beans. Sugar snap peas or black-eyed peas are additional options.

Green lima bean pods and lighter green shelled lima beans.
Lima beans pods and shelled lima beans.

Lima Beans

Lima beans are the most common shell bean sold in the United States; they are also commonly referred to as butter beans. Lima beans originated from Peru and are named after the capital of Peru, Lima. Lima beans come in three main varieties large, small, and dwarf.

Large lima beans are typically speckled or green in color. The speckled variety has a creamy texture and an earthy flavoring. The small lima beans are pale green and less starchy than large lima beans. Dwarf beans are white and speckled, the least starchy of the lima bean varieties, and the mildest tasting.

What do Lima Beans Taste like?

When it comes to lima beans, dried lima beans (beige in color) or fresh lima beans (green in color) are much tastier than lima beans from a can. When lima beans are properly cooked, they will have a creamy texture with a rich and buttery flavor. The large lima beans have more of an earthy flavoring and creamy texture. The smaller lima beans or baby lima beans are the mildest in taste and the least starchy of the lima bean varieties.

What can Lima Beans be substituted with?

If you are out of lima beans, you can substitute with fava beans, red or white kidney beans which all make good substitutes for lima beans.

Health Benefits

Edamame beans and lima beans both have great nutritional benefits. Edamame beans and lima beans are both naturally gluten-free. They are both low on the glycemic index scale, which helps in managing blood sugar levels.

They are both a great source of dietary fiber! Edamame beans have about 8 grams of fiber, and lima beans about 13 grams of fiber per cup.

Edamame and lima beans are great sources of protein, although edamame has twice the protein of lima beans, making it a protein champion. Edamame is the only vegetable that is a complete source of protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. Edamame also contains isoflavonoids, which are being studied as potentially helping protect against age-related diseases. One cup (155 g) of cooked edamame contains about 17 grams of protein!

Edamame is a good source of many vitamins and minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, calcium, manganese, omega-3 fatty acids, B-vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin E. 

Lima beans outperform edamame when it comes to vitamin C, though, coming in at about 4 times the amount of vitamin C. Lima beans are also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including folate, thiamin, vitamins K and E, as well as source of beta-carotene, which is a source of vitamin A as well as manganese, potassium, copper, magnesium, phosphorous and iron.

Which is the Healthier Option?

Both edamame and lima beans are a good choice when it comes to your health. Both are full of protein, vitamins, and minerals that are beneficial to your health. The healthier option comes down to which will you eat and enjoy more?

Interested in more beans? Yes, please!

Black Beans vs Pinto Beans, What is the Difference? (Plus Nutrition)

What Does Hummus Taste Like? Plus Flavor Tips and Tricks

Sharing is caring!

Author Biography

Karla Kueber is a Certified Evidence Based EFT Practioner and Health Coach, with a double Masters Degree in Education. She works with people to overcome emotional eating, curb cravings, and overcome resistance to eating new healthy foods. You can learn more about coaching with her here.