Young unripe soybeans are called edamame. Edamame has been eaten in Asian counties for centuries. These green soybeans have recently gained popularity in the United States and other western countries. These beans are available fresh or frozen, shelled or whole in most supermarkets these days. These beans can be boiled whole and then shelled and eaten as a snack or added to soups, stews, stir-fried noodles, and salads.
Edamame has health benefits and risks similar to other soy products like tofu and soy milk. While it is considered beneficial for many reasons, too much of soybeans can interfere with thyroid function (1). Let us learn more about the nutritional value and health benefits of edamame.
Edamame Nutrition Facts
One cup(155 grams) of frozen edamame contains (2):
- Calories: 189
- Total Fat: 8 grams
- Saturated fat: 1 gram
- Trans fat: 0 grams
- Total Carbohydrates: 16 grams
- Dietary Fibre: 8 grams
- Sugars: 3 grams
- Protein: 17 grams
- Vitamin C: 16 % Daily Value
- Calcium: 10% Daily Value
- Iron: 20% Daily Value
(Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.)
Edamame is rich in proteins and carbohydrates. It is also high in iron and vitamin C.
Edamame Health benefits
1. High in fibre
Fibre is beneficial for a healthy digestive system. It helps prevent digestive problems like constipation and bloating. Edamame is an excellent source of fibre. One cup of edamame contains 8 grams of fibre which takes care of 32 percent of our daily needs (2). Fibre is also essential for maintaining the correct levels of cholesterol, and this reduces the risk of stroke and heart attack.
Edamame is one of the best sources of plant-based protein. One cup of cooked edamame contains 18.5 grams of protein. Protein is essential for renewing cells in the body and building muscle. Edamame is a complete source of protein, and it provides all the essential amino acids that our body needs (3).
3. Lowers cholesterol
Edamame is rich in soluble fibre and isoflavones, a plant compound that helps to bring down the total blood levels of cholesterol (4).
One study found that eating 47 grams of soy protein per day can significantly lower the serum concentrations of total cholesterol, LDL Cholesterol and triglycerides (5).
Another study found that 50 grams of protein per day reduce LDL Cholesterol level by 3 percent.
Since abnormally high levels of cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease, it is a good idea to add soy protein to your diet for better heart health.
4. Prevents breast cancer
Edamame contains isoflavone, an antioxidant that inhibits the growth of cancer cells.
Some studies have shown that high dietary intake of soy products reduces the incidence of breast cancer in premenopausal women (6).
Some other studies seem to suggest that intake of soy products early in life may protect against breast cancer later (7).
5. Reduces the risk of prostate cancer
Compounds called isoflavones found in edamame protect against prostate cancer. Some observational studies on the effect of soy products on cancer have found that a diet rich in soy reduces the risk of prostate cancer by 30 percent (8). Some other studies also seem to suggest that soy isoflavones have a positive effect on prostate cancer risk (9).
6. Reduces menopausal symptoms
Hot flashes, increased sweating and mood swings are common symptoms of menopause. Edamame contains isoflavones that help reduce these symptoms.
During one study 60 healthy menopausal women were given 60 mg isoflavone or placebo for three months. In the group of women who were given isoflavone their hot flashes and night sweat were reduced by 57 percent (10).
Not all women benefit from isoflavones. Only those women who have the right type of gut bacteria can benefit from it. This bacteria can convert isoflavones into equol, which provides many of the health benefits of soybeans. Studies indicate that Asian population are more likely to have this bacteria in their gut.
7. Improves bone health
Edamame contains calcium which is essential for healthy and strong bones. Osteoporosis is common condition marked by brittle and fragile bones and painful joints. Some observational studies have found that isoflavones may lower the risk of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women (11). Another study has found that taking 90 mg of isoflavones per day for three months can reduce bone loss and promote bone formation (12). Some other studies have not found a very significant change in bone health by taking isoflavone supplements. So, the extent of improvement in bone health needs to be studied further.
8. Doesn’t raise blood sugar
People who eat easily digestible carbs like sugars are at risk of diseases like obesity and insulin resistance. Carb absorption can spike blood sugar levels and cause hyperglycemia. Since edamame is low in carbs and high in protein and fibre, it does not increase the blood sugar levels. It is very low in glycemic index which makes it a great food for people with diabetes (13).
Edamame beans contain nearly 50 mg of magnesium per half cup of cooked shelled beans. That’s almost 13 percent of your DV. Since it is rich in magnesium, it activates adenosine triphosphate, which helps muscles to work well without getting tired. Magnesium also helps to improve physical performance.
- Suggested Read – Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms
10. Promotes healthy skin
Edamame contains antioxidants which play a major role in keeping our skin healthy and free from damage. Consuming edamame can reduce wrinkles and keep your skin looking young and healthy. The antioxidants present in edamame help to neutralise effects caused by free-roaming radicals that can wreak havoc on the body.
11. Prevents Anaemia
Edamame is rich in iron, vitamin C, antioxidants and folate too. Iron is responsible for haemoglobin formation in the body. Iron is also responsible for transporting oxygen from one cell of the body to another. Deficiency in iron can lead to the risk of anaemia which can cause muscle weakness and fatigue.
Edamame is a very nutritious food that you must add to your diet. Many Asian counties like Japan and China have enjoyed the benefits of this soybean for years. Edamame beans are rich in many vitamins and minerals and provide numerous benefits to your health.