The Secret of Edamame
Soy snack is a yummy - and healthy - handful
The Soy Debate continued...
According to Mark Messina, PhD, president of the nutritional consulting firm
Nutrition Matters, these results aren't surprising because firm conclusions can
be made only on the basis of large, long-term studies. As you might expect,
these types of studies are very expensive.
"Consequently, most of the soy studies have been relatively short in
duration and usually involved relatively small subject numbers," explains
Although most researchers agree that further research is needed, recent
studies propose the following possible health benefits of soy:
- Soy protein may help reduce insulin resistance, kidney
damage, and fatty liver in people with diabetes, according to a study in
- A new study from the Chinese University of Hong Kong indicated that soy
protein containing isoflavones (phytoestrogens) significantly reduced overall
cholesterol and LDL "bad" cholesterol, and raised HDL or "good"
cholesterol, especially in men.
- A study in women reported that regular consumption of soy foods was
associated with healthy cholesterol levels.
- The component thought to be at least partly responsible for soy's health
benefits is a type of phytoestrogen called isoflavones. Isoflavones also appear
to work with certain proteins in soy to protect against cancer, heart disease,
- Results from a new study in China suggest that eating more soybean protein
may help prevent and treat hypertension.
- A study in which 12 postmenopausal women drank 36 ounces of soy milk daily
for 16 weeks noted an anti-inflammatory effect of the isoflavones found in soy.
According to the study authors, this may be important in the prevention of bone
loss and cancer, among other things.
The bottom line: "It remains prudent to recommend soy in a heart-healthy
diet because of [its] nutritional value and as a healthy substitute for protein
sources that are higher in saturated fat and cholesterol," says
Pennsylvania State University nutrition researcher Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD,
How Do You Buy It?
In my supermarket, you can find two types of edamame in the frozen vegetable
section: shelled or with the pods. Both are already cooked and ready to be
thawed and eaten.
I keep a bag of each in my freezer. I like the edamame in pods as a snack --
you have to work harder to get to each soybean this way. And I use the shelled
edamame in cooking (casseroles, soups/stews, noodle or rice dishes, etc.).
At the very least, you can keep a bag of edamame in pods around for a
low-maintenance finger food. Just thaw it and keep it in the refrigerator for a
quick snack. It's perfect for when you (or a family member) are hungry but it's
still an hour or more until dinner. For only 120 calories, 1 1/8 cup of the
edamame in pods is very satisfying, thanks to its protein, fiber, and a touch
of smart fat.