Edamame: How healthy are these green baby beans?

edamame

Last Updated April 15th, 2019

What is edamame?

The harvesting of young soybeans, before they ripen or become hard is termed as Edamame.  These healthy edibles are available shelled, frozen, pod or fresh. They appear green and have a noticeable difference in color when compared to soybean. Soy is, without doubt, a natural source of many essential nutrients. It adds flavor and balances health in a complete meal plan. Soy is present in, soymilk, soy burgers, Edamame, tofu, and soybeans.

edamame beansEdamame is also called as “immature soybean” as they are green, soft and easily edible. The very name Edamame was derived from a Japanese name, meaning “beans on branches”.  Edamame found a place in the food chain when it was first used by a Buddhist saint, Nichiren Shonin. He mentioned Edamame in his book titled, “Nichiren Shonis Gosho Zenshu” which translates into, “The Collected writings of Saint Nichiren”. It is mandatory that they are consumed when they are green because they become inedible when they change to brown or yellow. Edamame is classified as vegetables as they belong to the soy family.

The origins

Before the world got to know about it, Saint Nichiren Shonin wrote a thanking letter to his friend for sending him Edamame, in the year 1275 AD. Long before it could find a place in the biological nomenclature, the Japanese were found surviving on it during the famine. Its health benefits were later discovered and it went on to be served as a pre-cooked meal, and a healthy snack.

It was during 1855 that Edamame found its entrance into the United States of America when a farmer found difficulty in harvesting his soybeans. The word Edamame paved its way into the English dictionary in the year 1951, when it was mentioned in the journal “Folk Studies”. It was then appeared as a new terminology in the Oxford dictionary in the year 2003 and later was added to the Merriam-Webster in 2008.

Edamame harvest

The harvesting of the Edamame is done by hand, to avoid damaging the crops. The pods are grazed from the soybeans and carefully planted. It is essential to pick the soybeans exactly 35 to 40 days from the day it starts flowering. The soybeans are picked even while they are ripe and still remain in the pod. It is mandatory to cross-check the color of the Edamame, as only bright green color soybeans can make a fine Edamame. Edamame is sweet as it contains high levels of sucrose during its harvesting phase. The harvested Edamame is processed further by boiling, steaming or microwaving. The Edamame can be freshly eaten or can even be prepared as a dish with essence of varied flavors.

How healthy is edamame?

edamameIt is, without doubt, a source of various nutrients. The key nutrients present in Edamame are, protein, calcium, and vitamin C. It is proven that one cup of Edamame contributes to 10 percent of calcium to an adult, 16 percent of vitamin C, 20 percent of iron, 52 percentage of potassium, 376 calories and 121 recommended amount of folate on a daily basis. Its nutritional constituencies are as below,

  • Edamame is a derivative of soybeans which makes it rich in protein. It contains a complete source of protein. It also provides all necessary amino acids like meat and dairy do, adding the required nutrition to a person’s diet on a daily basis.
  • It is a rich source of omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid, thereby making it highly rich in healthy polyunsaturated fats. These healthy polyunsaturated fats contain omega-3 and omega-6 fats that are essential for brain functions and cell growth.
  • The presence of calcium and magnesium in Edamame helps reduce symptoms in premenstrual syndrome (PMS), regulate diabetes (blood sugar), and prevent the occurrence of migraine headaches.
  • It reduces the risk of osteoporosis and cancer by providing phytoestrogens in abundance.
  • It also consists of vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B-6, pantothenic acid, choline, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and manganese.
  • It is gluten-free.
  • It contains fats and carbohydrates. A cup of Edamame contains 28 grams of total carbohydrates. This lesser quantity of carbohydrates helps reduce cholesterol levels and maintains your blood sugar.
  • It is a rich source of dietary fibers.

The table below highlights the levels of nutrients present in Edamame and soybeans, making Edamame richer in nutrients.

NUTRIENTEDAMAME (RDI)MATURE SOYBEANS (RDI)
Folate78%14%
Vitamin K133%24%
Thiamine13%10%
Riboflavin9%17%
Iron13%29%
Copper17%20%
Manganese51%41%

Edamame health benefits

Edamame is a balanced dietary snack that contributes to our well being. It helps us improve our health by providing the mandatory nutrients for our body. Edamame is used in soups, crispy snacks and at times eat raw. It is a feast to your craving palate and solves the dilemma on the question of how it has to be stored. Edamame can easily be stored in a freezer in a simple container. The consumption of Edamame helps us in the following ways:

  • By relieving hot flashes and night sweats in women going through menopause.
  • As a high provider in phytoestrogens, it is termed as natural plant estrogen which helps treat estrogen deficiency and benefits both premenopausal and postmenopausal phase in women.
  • Lowers cholesterol. Several studies have proven that the consumption of Edamame has resulted in lowering 9.3% of total cholesterol level and 12.9% of LDL which is termed as bad cholesterol.
  • Regulates blood sugar and prevents the level of blood sugar from going up.
  • edamame menopauseAs mentioned before it consists of 28 grams of carbohydrates (which is low compared to other food supplements that consist of higher levels of carbohydrates) enabling an individual to consume the essential nutrients without having to watch their weight. Several studies have proven that the intake of Edamame can help reduce the risk of breast cancer.
  • Helps prevent men from developing prostate cancer.
  • Contributes to bone health by provided the necessary nutrients to treat brittle and fragile bones, resulting from osteoporosis.
  • The consumption of Edamame has paved a way to avoid neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other dementias, Parkinson’s disease (PD) and PD-related disorders etc.
  • Decreases the risk of heart-related diseases, as it helps lower cholesterol.
  • The nutrient folate present in Edamame helps relieve depression. This is possible as the folate present in Edamame prevents the excess formation of homocysteine. The excessive levels of homocysteine in the blood are said to cause postpartum depression and cause a rapid decrease in vitamin B.
  • Regulates type-2 diabetes and prevents kidney complications arising as a result of type-2 diabetes.
  • Helps treat diabetic nerve problem.
  • Reduces the duration of diarrhea in infants.
  • Controls and reduces protein leakage in kidney diseases.
  • Increasing fertility in women by providing the necessary protein and iron.
  • Helps increase energy levels by regulating iron levels in the body.
  • Reduces chronic inflammation by assisting the absorption of fats and maintaining the structure of the cellular membranes.
  • Enhances a healthy immune system by providing the nutrient mineral copper, which strengthens the defense mechanism in the body.
  • Helps the internal organs of the body remain healthy by providing antioxidants.
  • As it is a rich source of dietary fibers, it helps in digestion and contributes to a healthy digestive system.
  • Since it is packed with nutrients and less fat it is considered as a weight loss food by several experts. This was proved when a study published in 2005 by “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” reported that people who adhered to a high-protein diet experience lesser hunger pangs and stayed active and healthy.

The recommended intake

  • Intake of 20-50 grams on a daily basis helps lower high cholesterol.
  • 40 grams a day is required for patients affected with osteoporosis.
  • 700-800 grams can be consumed on a daily basis to treat protein leakage.
  • A fortified formula containing 18-20 grams of Edamame can be given to infants to control diarrhea.

Few things you need to be careful about

  • At the onset, it is best to avoid Edamame if diagnosed with soy allergies.
  • Can cause bloating, constipation and nausea.
  • If used for a longer period can develop abnormal tissue growth in the uterus.
  • Should be consumed in a limited amount during pregnancy and lactation.
  • As it is a rich source of protein it can at times alter the kidney functions and cause kidney damage.
  • Research shows the excess intake of soybeans or Edamame can worsen hypothyroidism.
  • People diagnosed with asthma are said to be allergic to soy products, therefore it is best for them to avoid the same.
  • Excessive soy consumption by men can lead to infertility.

Since it contains high amounts of lectins and other hazardous toxins it can cause various disorders over time.

Edamame: What do health experts have to say

edamame brainThe growth in food allergies and tolerances has seen a rapid increase. With this being the scenario it is mandatory to cross-check allergic reactions for soybeans, Edamame or any soy products. It triggers allergic reactions in children affected by eosinophilic esophagitis (an allergic inflammatory condition that involves eosinophils, a form of white blood cell).

With insufficient studies to prove its benefits there are varied factors that make it difficult to structuralize a specific statement relating to the effects that Edamame causes. This is because most of the experimentation on Edamame was carried out on animals; it is, therefore, difficult to jump to a conclusion as the metabolism in animals and humans differ.

At present, the production of Edamame is prone to genetic modification and can result in the consumption of adulterated Edamame. It is therefore essential to consume organic Edamame which is safer and loaded with substantial nutrients that help maintain our body both physically and mentally. A kick start to being healthy depends on the nutritional ingredients that you put on your plate.

Maintaining your nutritional balance with the necessary amount of Edamame can result in a healthy venture for a better morrow and contribute to maintaining optimal health by avoiding certain chronic ailments. As Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”.

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