5 Health Benefits of Edamame & 6 Recipe Ideas
Did you know that edamame beans are immature soybeans which are still in their pods? With all of the health hype about soy, it comes as no surprise that edamame beans are incredibly good for you. Find here all of the health benefits of edamame, plus potential risks.
Edamame beans are full of nutrients, may reduce the risk of some cancers, and could even help you combat menopausal symptoms if you’re female.
They’re also gluten-free as well as cholesterol-free, making them ideal for most diets. Best of all, they’re delicious and you can probably find hundreds of ideas for adding them into your favorite dishes.
In this article, we’ll tell you all about why edamame is so good for you, its nutritional values, and the best recipes to try at home.
Interesting Facts about Edamame
An early reference to edamame dates back to 1275 Japan, when a Buddhist monk wrote a note of thanks for a gift of soybeans (or edamame beans) to his temple.
Allegedly, in times of famine, Chinese people were advised to consume the pods and leaves of soy plants as well.
This was likely not a good idea at all, as edamame pods are hard to digest and can even be a choking hazard. Edamame leaves are edible, and apparently make a good substitute for spinach, kale, or even sorrel.
What Edamame Is
Edamame refers to a Japanese dish made by boiling or steaming immature soybeans in their pod. Edamame beans are generally synonymous with fresh, young soybeans. In Japan they’re commonly served with salt as a side dish.
Origin and Where Edamame Comes From
Soybeans were first grown in China around 7000 years ago. Meanwhile edamame itself was first referenced in 1275 in Japan, as mentioned above. In the US, Edamame is mostly grown in Arkansas.
A 2016 source states that Arkansas farmers are hoping for edamame beans to become as synonymous with their state as apples are with New York or corn with Iowa.
Edamame soy beans are often steamed or boiled and seasoned with plain salt or soy sauce and garlic.
What Edamame Taste Like
Edamame has a lovely firm bite and offers flavors of ripe, buttery pears. They also have a slightly sweet, nutty flavor, which is very enjoyable with just a dash of salt.
Nutritional Facts, Calories and Protein of Edamame
Edamame is a definite superfood, as the young soybeans are full of vitamins, minerals, protein, and more. Better yet, one cup of cooked edamame beans only contains around 189 calories.
By comparison, a cup of cooked macaroni pasta contains around 221 calories and doesn’t offer the added health benefits of these delicious young soybeans.
They’re highly concentrated in vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, folate, iron, calcium, manganese, zinc, potassium, copper, magnesium, riboflavin, and thiamine. Edamame beans also contain plenty of protein, fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, and all of the essential amino acids.
Perhaps the most valuable part of edamame is the inclusion of three key isoflavones, also known as glycitein, daidzein, and genistein.
Isoflavones are a type of phytoestrogen, which is helpful for a variety of ailments. Bear in mind that phytoestrogens from foods are generally fine, while phytoestrogen supplements should always be discussed with a doctor first.
Health Benefits of Eating Edamame: Why It Is So Good for You
It’s long been known that edamame beans are good for you. They’re chock-full of nutrients, easily digestible, and nice-tasting.
You can add them to a range of recipes or make them on their own for a snack. Here we’ve compiled a list of the key benefits you’ll gain when adding edamame to your diet.
Could Help Lower Cholesterol
A range of clinical trials were conducted and showed that consuming soy protein, such as edamame beans, decreased LDL cholesterol when compared with animal protein.
Other research showed that adding just a small amount of edamame beans to your daily diet may lower levels of bad cholesterol in your body by around 13 percent.
This is largely down to edamame’s fiber, vitamin K and antioxidant content, all of which may improve overall heart health. Claims that soy-based foods reduce bad cholesterol have even been approved by the FDA.
May Lower Your Blood Sugar Levels
Similar to other bean types, edamame doesn’t raise blood sugar levels much. Edamame beans do not contain a lot of carbohydrates and measure ‘low’ on the glycemic index.
Isoflavones found in soy products are said to potentially lower levels of blood sugar and also reduce insulin resistance in people who have diabetes.
Best of all, research showed that continued consumption of soy-based isoflavones showed a greater decrease in levels of blood glucose.
They’re therefore recommended for people with diabetes, and make a great addition to diabetes-friendly meals or simple, healthy snacks.
Could Reduce Your Risk of Some Cancers
There was once a myth that soy foods such as edamame could increase your risk of breast cancer. Modern research suggests the opposite.
Adding edamame and other soy products to your diet may, in fact, reduce the risk of cancer and cancer recurrence. A lifelong consumption of soy-based foods particularly shows a reduced risk in developing female breast cancer.
Edamame and other soy foods have also been linked to a decreased risk of prostate cancer in men.
May Decrease Symptoms of Menopause
The isoflavones found in edamame affect female bodies similarly to estrogen. As such, studies have shown that edamame and other soy-based foods can reduce some of the symptoms of menopause.
Interestingly, adding even a small amount of edamame to your daily diet has been shown to have other helpful effects on the female body, too.
For example, daily consumption of soy has been linked with a reduction of PMS-related cramps, headaches, and breast tenderness. The phytoestrogens in edamame could also help regulate levels of estrogen in your body.
Could Reduce Bone Loss
Isoflavones in edamame beans (yet again) showed themselves as being helpful when it comes to reducing bone loss.
They were found to reduce overall bone loss and also increase mineral density in your bones. On the downside, oxalates in soy products can bind calcium, making it unavailable to your body.
The latter could be a problem if you suffer from osteoporosis. So it would appear that, if you’re healthy and wish to strengthen your bones, adding edamame to your diet is a great idea. If you suffer from osteoporosis, you may wish to consult your doctor first.
Potential Risks of Edamame
As with any health food, edamame beans also come with some potential risks. These are generally minor and very specific to people with certain ailments.
They’re still worth listing, however. Below are some of the risks you may encounter when adding edamame or other soy products to your diet.
May Increase Stomach Upset in People with IBS
There appear to be mixed views on this. Some say edamame’s high fiber and protein content may make it helpful for IBS sufferers.
Others suggest that soy products could cause IBS flare ups. If in doubt, speak to your doctor about adding edamame beans to your diet.
Could Cause Issues if You Have a Soy Allergy
If you have a known soy allergy, for instance to soy milk or tofu, you’ll also want to steer clear of edamame beans.
Allegedly, those with soy allergies may be fine with consuming soybean oil that’s been highly refined.
However, edamame beans, which are immature soybeans, are definitely out of the question.
Is Edamame in Pregnancy Good For You?
Edamame is one of the best foods you can have during pregnancy. The delicious beans are full of fiber and protein, as well as many essential nutrients.
These include folate, a very important vitamin for you and your baby or babies. Folic acid is known to help prevent major birth defects such as spina bifida.
As with any pregnancy food, make sure your edamame beans are fresh and purchased from a reputable source. Frozen and appropriately heated edamame beans are fine.
One cup of edamame alone provides your body with a little more than an entire day’s serving of folate, so they’re certainly worth adding to your diet. Don’t worry about having edamame on top of your pregnancy vitamins either — excess folate is excreted in your urine.
Can Dogs and Cats Have Edamame?
Some dogs could be allergic to soybeans and soy-based products.
They should never be fed any kind of soy foods, including edamame. However most dogs — those who do not suffer from an allergy — are fine with edamame beans in small amounts.
Cats are carnivores and don’t need to eat edamame beans. With that said, edamame isn’t toxic for cats, and is safe in smaller amounts.
Delicious Recipe Ideas with Edamame
Edamame — steamed fresh soybeans seasoned with just salt or a touch of soy sauce and garlic — are delicious on their own.
But if you’re serious about adding this superfood to your regular diet, you may wish to get a bit more creative.
Here are some of our favorite recipe ideas to make with edamame.
Edamame Pasta — Delicious Spaghetti Made from Edamame Beans
Edamame pasta is available online and at specialty food stores. It’s made with edamame bean flour. Since edamame beans are naturally gluten free and don’t contain a lot of calories, they make a perfect substitute for regular pasta for many different diets.
Simple Edamame Side Dish with Sesame Oil and Soy Sauce
You’ve probably had freshly cooked or steamed edamame with a sprinkle of salt or soy sauce before. Elevate this with a drizzle of sesame oil and some soy sauce. The soy sauce enhances the delicious nutty flavors of edamame.
Air Fryer Edamame Beans with Chilli and Garlic
Air fryer cooked edamame beans will come out crispy and delicious.
They’re best made from frozen edamame beans which have already been shelled from their inedible pods. Season with some desiccated chili and garlic and a touch of sea salt, and enjoy.
Vegan Edamame Falafels
You can make tasty vegan falafels at home using edamame beans, onion, almond and chickpea flours, ground flaxseed, lime juice and zest, and a variety of spices.
They make great, healthy additions to homemade wraps. Alternatively, keep some aside for healthy work or school snacks. If anyone’s allergic to nuts, skip the added almond flour.
Edamame and Chicken Noodle Salad
Nothing beats a homemade noodle salad. This one’s best with some freshly cooked, high quality chicken breast seasoned with just vegetable oil and a dash of salt and pepper.
Mix with some cooked and cooled soba noodles, your choice of veggies (bell peppers and spring onions are great) and, of course, cooked edamame beans without the pods.
Korean Sushi Rolls with Edamame (Kimbap)
We came across this recipe online and couldn’t resist it. These Korean-inspired sushi rolls are filled with edamame and walnuts, pickled daikon, carrots, and, interestingly, molasses.
They’re full of flavor and reasonably easy to make at home if you know how to make regular sushi rolls.
Tips for Using Edamame
Edamame is a great health food, but only if you store and use them correctly, and don’t let them go bad. Below are our top tips for how best to use edamame beans at home and what to look out for.
How to Store Edamame
Fresh edamame beans should be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Frozen beans are usually already shelled and can easily be stored in a freezer for up to 6 months.
This makes frozen beans the more popular option amongst home cooks, though they do take away the ‘fun’ of shelling them as you would in a Japanese restaurant.
How to Cook Edamame at Home
Cook them similarly to how you’d cook peas: boil a pot of water with a bit of salt. Cook the beans until they’re tender but still have plenty of bite left to them.
Drain and rinse with some cold water (to ‘shock’ the beans and preserve their vibrant color.) Season to taste and serve immediately.
The Easiest Way to Peel Edamame
Edamame beans are easy to peel or ‘shell’: all you have to do is gently give the pods a squeeze with your fingers.
The beans will pop out and can be eaten from your plate or catapulted straight into your mouth from the little pods.