kris ulland

Your Nutrition Partner

More than TWO MILLION fractures occur each year in the United States related to osteoporosis. Fractures caused by osteoporosis most often occur in the spine. These spinal fractures, called vertebral compression fractures, occur in nearly 700,000 patients each year. They are almost twice as common as other fractures typically linked to osteoporosis, such as broken hips and wrists.

10 million Americans have osteoporosis, and 34 million individuals over the age of 50 are at risk of developing osteoporosis.

A report in the Journal of the American Medical Association analyzed the degree of osteoporotic fracture reduction that occurred in response to vitamin D and calcium supplementation.

This meta-analysis found that combining low doses of vitamin D (400 IU to 800 IU) with high calcium intake (1,000 mg to 1,200 mg) reduced risk of any fracture by 6% and hip fracture by 16%.

There was no benefit when taking vitamin D alone. And, the reality is that no single nutrient can be counted on to maintain bone integrity when confronted with normal degenerative changes with skeletal aging.

Studies indicate that ..”accumulation of vitamin deficiencies was related to incident fractures” , resulting in a 25% increase risk of fracture.

People with atrial fibrillation, aortic valve replacement, deep vein thrombosis, and other conditions require anti-coagulant drugs to reduce the risk of a clot forming inside a blood vessel. For decades, the drug of choice in these situations was a vitamin K antagonist drug called warfarin (Coumadin). Warfarin works by inhibiting the synthesis and activation of vitamin K.

Not only does warfarin disable beneficial vitamin K activity (such as keeping calcium IN bones and OUT of arteries), but warfarin users are put on strict diets that are extremely low in vitamin K. As a result, studies show that long-term warfarin users may suffer vascular calcification and bone loss.

A study published in October 2019, conducted in Denmark, looked at osteoporotic fracture incidence in people prescribed various types of anti-coagulant drugs. Warfarin was the only vitamin K antagonist drug while the other drugs did not have vitamin K antagonist effects.

People prescribed non-warfarin anticoagulant drugs like Xarelto and Eiquis had significantly lower risk of osteoporotic fractures.

A similar study published in January 2020 conducted in Taiwan looked at atrial fibrillation patients treated with warfarin or non-vitamin K antagonist drugs. Compared to warfarin treatment, drugs that did NOT block vitamin K were associated with an 18% lower risk of osteoporosis.

Clearly, warfarin users should consult their doctors about supplementing with a low dose of vitamin K2 (45 mg a day). Studies point to a role that vitamin K has in maintaining healthy bones and fractures are lower in people who supplement with vitamin K. That is not to say that vitamin K2 by itself is enough to provide comprehensive skeletal support. This was made clear by a Japanese study that showed multiple nutrient deficiencies markedly increase fracture incidence.

The major regulator of bone remodeling in men and women is the sex hormone estrogen. Other hormones that influence bone density include testosterone, DHEA, and growth hormone.

With aging, many of these hormone levels plummet and accelerate loss of bone density. A comprehensive blood test can tell you if supplementation is necessary.

No single therapy adequately protects against skeletal deterioration that occurs with normal aging. Interventions like cutting back on unhealthy lifestyle choices and ensuring that adequate amounts of every bone-building nutrient and hormone are consumed are important.

Menopause accelerates loss of bone density and strength. There are also drugs like corticosteroids and proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), smoking tobacco, drinking excess alcohol, and anti-testosterone treatment for prostrate cancer (know as hormone ablation) that all can also cause bone loss.

Weight bearing exercise, good nutrition, and maintaining hormone balance will help protect your bones. Because bone density peaks early in life, between 18-30 years, and progressively declines thereafter, it is never too early to work on your bone health.

Exercise is one of the most effective ways to build bone density, or the measurement of the amount of minerals contained in a certain volume of bone. Exercise will also help decrease the risk of osteoporosis.

The nutrients you need to build strong bones can be found by eating plants, without the negative health risks from milk and other dairy products.

  • Calcium helps to build and protect bones. You want to aim for about 600 milligrams of calcium per day, which can easily be achieved on a plant-based diet. Eating plants helps absorb calcium at a higher rate than if you got calcium from cow’s milk. Leafy green vegetables, like cooked broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and collard greens are excellent sources and offer high absorption rates.  Calcium can also be found in beans and fortified plant milks. There is more than 800 milligrams of calcium in a single serving of tofu (about a half a cup).  All types of beans and chickpeas are great, with a cup of chickpeas offering over 100 milligrams. These foods also contain magnesium, which is another important mineral for strong bones.
  • Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Vitamin D comes from the sun, and about 15 minutes a day of direct sunlight on skin should give you enough vitamin D. However, having darker skin, living in the north through the winter season can all make it hard to get enough vitamin D from the sun alone. Fortified cereals, grains, bread, and soy or almond milk exist as options for providing vitamin D through diet, and vegan supplements are available and equally as beneficial.
  • Vitamin C is essential for making collagen, the protein that binds connective tissue in bones. Citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers are excellent sources of vitamin C.
  • Vitamin K is thought to stimulate bone formation. You can find Vitamin K in the same foods that have an abundance of calcium, like dark leafy greens, beans, and soy products.
  • Potassium decreases the loss of calcium and increases the rate of bone building. Oranges, bananas, potatoes, and many other fruits, vegetables, and beans are all rich sources of potassium.

Lima Beans

One of the oldest beans to come out of the New World, lima beans, also known as butter beans, have a buttery, almost meaty texture with a plump, kidney-like shape. The beans, named after Lima, Peru, where they are thought to have originated from, are in season through the fall months, until the first frosts hit.

Lima beans (Phaseolus limensis or Phaseolus lunatus) are legumes, related to kidney beans, lentils, and other common beans. They have grown in the fields of Peru for over 7,000 years. They appear in literature as far back as the 16th century. Various cultivars grow around the world in pole vine and bush varieties. Other cultures call them Madagascar beans and sieva beans. The seeds are typically light green or cream in color, and some varieties come in white, brown, black, purple, and red.

One cup of cooked lima beans carries a massive load of nutrients that perform a myriad of reparative and regenerative physiological functions. These compounds help strengthen bones, blood, nerves, skin, hair, and the immune system.

One cup of lima beans has:

  • Calories: 216 (12% DV)
  • Fiber: 13 g (47 DV)
  • Protein: 15 g (29% DV)
  • Vitamin B1: 0.3 mg (25% DV)
  • Folate: 156 mcg (39% DV)
  • Copper: 0.4 mg (49% DV)
  • Iron: 4.5 mg (25% DV)
  • Manganese: 1 mg (42% DV)
  • Molybdenum: 141 mcg (313% DV)
  • Potassium: 955 mg (20% DV)
  • Phosphorus: 209 mg (30% DV)

Lima beans are especially high in manganese, which acts as an antioxidant and plays a key role in metabolism. They also provide a good amount of copper in each serving, which supports immune health and promotes brain function. Lima beans are rich in magnesium, a mineral your body needs for energy production and DNA synthesis.

A cup of lima beans contains 24,9 percent of iron.  The iron in lima beans is specified as non-heme iron, which is totally low in calories and also, fat free. Iron will help to transport the oxygen from your lungs to other parts of the body.

Our bodies need protein to form and rebuild cells, muscles, and tissues. Lima beans are a significant source, for women who generally require 46 grams daily and men who need 56 grams each day. Lima beans are not a complete protein, but they can be easily combined with rice, corn, or lentils to round out the protein profile of a meal.

Include lima bean if you are concerned about diabetes, hypoglycemia, or insulin resistance. Lima beans contain high amounts of soluble fibers which will help to maintain your blood sugar level. People who eat high soluble fiber foods had lower levels of blood sugar and insulin. Thanks to their high fiber and protein content, lima beans have a very low glycemic index (how quickly foods affect our blood glucose levels) rating 32 (Low GI : 1 to 55. Medium GI : 56 to 69. High GI : 70 and higher). This low GI value is responsible for many of the nutritional and health benefits of lima beans.

The carbohydrates in foods that have a high GI value (such as dates, watermelon, mashed potatoes, and white bread such as baguettes) break down into simple sugars quickly and cause blood glucose to increase rapidly. This spike is followed by a steep decline in blood glucose levels. The rapid fluctuations in blood glucose levels are not healthy and can eventually lead to a wide range of health problems such as insulin resistance and diabetes, mood changes, lack of energy, hypertension and heart disease, and increased sugar cravings.

Lima beans contain folates which are especially important for pregnant woman. Folate is one of the nutrients which will protect the baby from any neural tube defect and also prevent the mother from premature labor.

Folate is also essential to reduce the level of homocysteine. Homocysteine is one of an amino acid which is a product from a metabolic process called the methylation cycle. Homocysteine is a byproduct of protein metabolism (eating too much protein) that, at high levels, appears to correlate to higher risk of heart attacks, strokes, and Alzheimer’s disease. Studies suggest individuals who eat few plant-based foods have elevated concentrations of homocysteine. Lima beans are rich in folate and other B vitamins that help the body eliminate this compound.

Oxidative damage, inflammation, and microbes wreak havoc in the body. They contribute to premature aging and the development of  gastrointestinal illness, arthritis, asthma, autoimmune disorders, and cardiovascular disease. In 2018, researchers at an Ecuadorian university published a study citing proteins in baby lima beans possess potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties.

Sulfites are a common preservative present in many wines and prepared foods like salads, dried fruits, and delicatessen products. Sulfites cause headache, rapid heartbeat, and disorientation in individuals who are sensitive to them. Lima beans are an excellent source of the trace mineral molybdenum, a key component of enzymes that detoxify sulfites and acetaldehyde, a potential carcinogen.

Research discussed in Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology noted that a peptide in the large lima bean induced cell death in human nerve cancer and liver cancer cells. A 2017 study published in the International Journal of Biological Macromolecules reported that lectin, a type of protein in lima beans, may inhibit angiogenesis, the development of blood vessels that feed tumors. However, some medical experts worry that the copper in lima beans could encourage angiogenesis in some cancers.

Lima beans should not be eaten uncooked, nor should dried beans be ground into flour. Soaking and cooking lima beans deactivates cyanide compounds that, if consumed, inhibit digestive enzymes and cause clumping of red blood cells. One of these compounds is amygdalin, a component of laetrile; eating raw lima beans in combination with laetrile treatment may increase the risk of cyanide poisoning. (Lima beans sold in the United States are usually well below the regulated limits of 90.9 mg of cyanide per pound (200 mg per kg), which is lower than the levels known to be toxic to humans.)

Like any other beans, lima beans also contain non-digestible fibers. This will lead to gastrointernal problems for the people who are not used to eat beans. Make sure you are drinking a lot of fluids after eating lima beans.

Although it’s uncommon, some people have an allergy to legumes and may need to avoid lima beans altogether.

Like other types of beans, lima beans contain anti-nutrients, which are compounds that may impair the absorption of minerals in the body. Soaking them overnight will release the protective layer on the bean and make them more digestible.


How to Buy

The best supplies of lima beans are in August and September. Look for well-filled, tender green beans.

Fresh lima beans are not commonly available, although specialty stores and farmers’ markets may carry them in season. Look for firm, dark green pods that are not wrinkled or yellowed. Shelled beans should not look moldy or shriveled.

Most grocery stores carry dried lima beans in packages or bulk bins. Check to see that the beans are stored properly and that the store turns them over often to maintain optimal freshness. Look for and avoid indications of cracks, insect damage, and moisture.

How to Store

Lima beans should be refrigerated in a tightly closed silicone bags. Refrigerate fresh lima beans in their pods for up to three days.

Store dried beans in a dry, dark place away from heat and moisture for up to six months.

You may also find frozen and canned lima beans. Shake frozen packages to check for clumping; they may have been thawed and refrozen. You do not need to thaw frozen beans before cooking them.

How to Cook

Check lima beans for debris and damage while you rinse them in a strainer under cool water. Presoak your lima beans to help reduce the antinutrients that cause gastric upset. This will also reduce the cooking time. Drain the soaking water and rinse the beans again with cool water. Add three parts water or broth and one part dried lima beans in a pot. Bring to a boil; reduce to simmer for 45 minutes. Do not add acidic or salty seasonings until the beans are done; otherwise, they may become tough and require longer cooking. These beans tend to produce foam, so it is best to avoid pressure cooking.

Savory Vegan Succotash

Chuck Underwood/ Brand New Vegan

6-8 servings


  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 can green chiles, 4oz
  • 1 zucchini, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup low sodium veg broth
  • 10oz frozen lima beans (a little over a cup)
  • 1 can corn, 15oz, organic (non-gmo)
  • 3-4 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tsp white miso


  • Sauté onion and a pinch of salt until softened, about 5 min
  • Add a tablespoon of water or veg broth if needed
  • Stir in garlic and sauté 1 minute
  • Add diced red bell pepper, cook for 3-4 minutes
  • Add diced tomato and green chiles, mix well
  • Add zucchini and 1/4 cup broth, cook 5 min or until tender
  • Rinse lima beans well, drain and add to pan
  • Add corn and mix well
  • Stir in miso and a few grinds of black pepper
  • Taste for seasoning, adjust if needed

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