Edamame is a word used to describe immature green soybeans. Although edamame has been used in Asian cuisine for a long time, it has recently made headway in Western culture as a popular snack.
Edamame is generally sold still in the pods, but unlike peapods, edamame pods aren’t meant to be eaten. Instead, the edamame is meant to be boiled in the pods and then the soybeans should be removed and eaten on their own.
In the US, you’ll often find edamame in the frozen food section. Some stores, especially whole food stores and health food stores, may also sell edamame in snack aisles.
One of the reasons edamame has become such a popular snack in recent years is that, in addition to its delicious taste, it offers a number of promising health benefits. It’s low on the glycemic index, making it a good snack option for people with type II diabetes, and also offers the following major health benefits.
Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer
Studies show that eating a diet rich in soy reduces the risk of breast cancer. These benefits are especially true for people who eat soy throughout their lifetime and those who eat one to two servings of whole soy foods each day.
Reduce Bad Cholesterol
High levels of LDL cholesterol, aka “bad cholesterol,” is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Edamame, however, could help reduce your LDL cholesterol. Edamame is a good source of soy protein. An analysis of 38 clinical trials showed that eating soy protein rather than animal protein significantly decreased LDL cholesterol levels in humans.
Reduce Symptoms of Menopause
Menopause can cause hot flashes, night sweats, irregular periods, mood swings, and changes in sex drive. These symptoms occur due to estrogen levels changing during menopause. Isoflavones, which are found in edamame, have an effect on the body similar to estrogen. Studies show that these compounds can reduce symptoms of menopause.
Edamame is a great source of plant-based protein. It’s also an excellent source of:
Nutrients per Serving
One ½ cup serving of edamame contains:
- Calories: 65
- Fat: 3 grams
- Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
- Sodium: 4 milligrams
- Carbohydrates: 5 grams
- Protein: 6 grams
Things to Watch Out For
Early studies indicate that too much soy in your diet could have a negative impact on your gut health. These studies are still in their early stages and have not yet been reproduced on humans.
However, if you eat large amounts of soy products, you may want to keep an eye on your digestive health, especially if you have digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome. Increasing your fiber intake may help maintain your digestive health.
It’s also worth noting that, like most beans, edamame has a fair amount of fat in it compared to the fat found in vegetable products. While fats can be part of a healthy diet, too much fat in your diet is linked to health conditions like type 2 diabetes and obesity. Limit your risk by sticking to one ½ cup serving of edamame per day.
How to Prepare Edamame
Although edamame is often sold in its pods, the pods themselves are not edible. Cook the beans in the pods by steaming, boiling or pan-frying them. Then, remove them from the pods to eat.
Edamame has a nutty, earthy flavor to it. Some people enjoy eating edamame by themselves as a snack, the same way you’d eat nuts or seeds. But if you’re not keen on eating plain edamame, there are a number of other ways to add them to your diet. Here are just a few options:
- Tossed in a salad
- Mixed in a stir fry
- Mashed with garlic on toast
- Stirred into pasta
- Eaten alone with salt and pepper