Edamame: The High-Protein, Nutrient-Dense Food Your Diet Is Missing

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Often served at Japanese restaurants, edamame are packed with vitamins and minerals.
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Edamame are young soybeans that are most often boiled or steamed and eaten directly from the pod. Similar to other beans, edamame grow in pods that enclose the edible seeds.

Soybeans are one of the most affordable sources of plant-based protein and are a staple in many diets worldwide. They are available in both fresh and frozen form and are nutrient powerhouses, packed full of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals — making them a delicious addition to a healthy diet.

Edamame Nutrition Facts

One cup of edamame is equal to a single serving. One cup of edamame contains:

  • Calories: 188
  • Total fat: 8.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 9.3 mg
  • Total carbs: 13.8 g
  • Dietary fiber: 8.1 g
  • Sugar: 3.4 g
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 18.5 g

Edamame Macros

  • Total fat: A one-cup serving of edamame has 8.1 grams of total fat, which includes 3.3 grams polyunsaturated fat, 2 grams monounsaturated fat, 1 gram saturated fat and 0 grams trans fat.
  • Carbohydrates: A one-cup serving of edamame has 13.8 grams of carbohydrates, which includes 8.1 grams of fiber and 3.4 grams of naturally occurring sugar.
  • Protein: A one-cup serving of edamame has 18.5 grams of protein.

Vitamins, Minerals and Other Micronutrients

  • Folate: 121% of your Daily Value (DV)
  • Manganese: 69% DV
  • Copper: 59% DV
  • Vitamin K: 34% DV
  • Thiamin (B1): 26% DV
  • Magnesium: 24% DV
  • Phosphorous: 21% DV
  • Iron: 20% DV
  • Zinc: 19% DV
  • Riboflavin (B2): 18% DV
  • Choline: 16% DV
  • Potassium: 14% DV
  • Pantothenic acid: 12% DV
  • Vitamin C: 11% DV
  • Niacin (B3): 9% DV
  • Vitamin B6: 9% DV
  • Calcium: 8% DV
  • Vitamin E: 7% DV
  • Vitamin A: 3% DV
  • One serving of edamame is not a significant source of selenium (2% DV).

How Edamame Compares to Other Legumes

Per 1 cup cooked

Edamame

Black Beans

Kidney Beans

Navy Beans

Pinto Beans

Calories

188

227

225

255

245

Total Fat

8.1 g

0.9 g

0.9 g

1.1 g

1.1 g

Total Carbs

13.8 g

40.8 g

40.4 g

47.4 g

44.8 g

Dietary Fiber

8.1 g

15.0 g

11.3 g

19.1 g

15.4 g

Protein

18.5 g

15.2 g

15.3 g

15.0 g

15.4 g

Source: USDA

Health Benefits of Edamame

Like other soy products and legumes, edamame has a rich and varied nutrient profile. Edamame contains a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and macronutrients.

1. Edamame Can Help With Weight Management

Edamame is an excellent source of plant-based protein and dietary fiber, a dynamic duo that works together to support healthy weight-loss goals and to maintain a healthy weight.

Eating a plant-forward diet full of whole fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts has been shown to be an effective strategy in the treatment of obesity, according to an article published in the November 2018 issue of Nutrition and Diabetes.

Edamame and other legumes have a high protein content, making them an optimal choice for vegans, vegetarians and anyone looking to add more plant-based foods to their daily diet.

What's more, eating more fiber is linked to lower body weight, according to an April 2013 study in Nutrients. Dietary fiber creates bulk and increases fecal water content, helping to keep you full and your intestinal tract running smoothly.

Fiber can also help improve glucose tolerance, increase insulin sensitivity and is tied to reduced blood cholesterol levels and triglycerides. Boosting fiber intake to 30 grams (or more) per day has been shown to be an effective approach to weight loss in a February 2015 study in Annals of Internal Medicine.

2. Edamame Is Linked to Supporting Bone Health

Studies suggest that eating soy isoflavones may have a beneficial effect on bone health.

This is especially true for women who, as they age, experience incremental estrogen loss, which can lead to bone loss, according to an article published in the July 2016 issue of the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

Bone health also requires an adequate and constant supply of certain minerals, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and potassium. These minerals work together to support bone homeostasis.

One cup of cooked edamame provides 8 percent, 24 percent, 21 percent, 69 percent and 14 percent of these nutrients, respectively.

3. Edamame Is Full of Beneficial Phytosterols

Edamame, as well as other legumes, seeds and nuts, contain compounds known as phytosterols. Phytosterols have been found to have cholesterol-lowering and anticancer properties.

Phytosterols inhibit the absorption of cholesterol by blocking absorption sites; they're also linked to enhanced immune function and exhibit anticancer effects, according to the April 2017 issue of Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy.

A meta-analysis found that high phytosterol intake is inversely related to cancer risk, according to an article published in the January 2019 issue of the Journal of Oncology.

Boil edamame in their pods and serve them with a sprinkle of salt for an easy, nutrient-dense snack.
Image Credit: Fudio/iStock/GettyImages

Edamame Health Risks

Concerns With Soy

In recent years, there have been some concerns around soy-based products related to hormone interference. Soy contains high levels of isoflavones, a type of plant estrogen that can bind to other cells in the body much the same way human estrogen can.

The way in which this affects different people, either estrogen-promoting or estrogen-blocking, can vary widely.

Researchers have concluded, however, that soy is a safe nutrient-dense protein with health-promoting benefits that outweigh any possible concerns, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Food Allergies

Edamame, or soybeans, are one of the eight most common identified food allergens.

Soy allergy reactions can affect the skin, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract or cardiovascular system and symptoms may include vomiting, gastrointestinal distress, breathing difficulty, hives, swelling or dizziness, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

If you have a soy allergy, avoid consumption of all soy foods and products, including edamame.

Drug Interactions

High intakes of soy protein (which edamame is a source of) may interfere with the blood-thinning medication warfarin, according to Oregon State University.

Be sure to discuss any medication and food interactions with your health care professional.

Edamame Recipes

Edamame Preparation and Useful Tips

Edamame is widely available and is most often found in the frozen foods aisle in both shell-on and shell-off varieties. You may be able to find dried or fresh edamame at your local farmers' market or grocery store as well.

Fresh edamame should be deep green in color with unbruised, firm pods. Fresh edamame will stay fresh in the refrigerator for two to three days while frozen edamame will keep for up to six months.

When preparing dried edamame:

  • Inspect your dried beans, looking for any rocks or pebbles to discard and ensuring beans are not broken.
  • Soak beans overnight, making sure beans are fully covered with water.
  • After soaking, rinse and drain the beans until water runs clear.
  • Place in a pot, fill and cover the edamame with water and cook at a simmer until beans are tender, approximately three to four hours.
  • Alternatively, dried soybeans may be cooked in a pressure cooker. To cook in a pressure cooker, place edamame (soaking is not required prior to cooking) into the pressure cooker, add eight cups of water with one pound of dried edamame and cook on high pressure for 30 minutes. Once done, allow the pressure to release naturally for 20 to 30 minutes.

Edamame can be used in a wide variety of dishes. Here are some quick serving ideas.

  • Add to grains, salads, soups, stews and side dishes.
  • Serve in their pods sprinkled with salt as an appetizer or side dish.
  • Combine with chopped vegetables and mix in some vinaigrette to make a colorful bean salad.
  • Combine edamame in a food processor with cumin, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper for a delicious edamame dip.
  • Top a baked potato with edamame and yogurt.
  • Use as a filling for tacos and burritos.

Alternatives to Edamame

Edamame can easily be swapped out for common beans, including black, pinto, kidney, navy and cannellini beans. If you have a soy allergy, rest assured these options are all soy-free.

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