Edamame looks so innocent. The peas sit nicely in the pod, which softens when boiled and provides a great pre-meal snack when you go out to eat at a Japanese restaurant. But these little green powerhouses are some of the most nutritious foods you can eat. One cup of edamame has 8 grams of fiber, an impressive 17 grams of protein, 180 calories, and can keep you feeling full and satisfied for hours, making it a great food to help you reach your weight loss goals.

Edamame is safe to eat daily, despite what you may have heard about soybean and plant estrogen (it actually blocks the uptake of estrogen in the body and lowers the risk of breast cancer, studies have shown.) If you want to boost your overall health by eating more foods that contain powerful antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and nutrients then snack on edamame.

These special legumes have been shown to reduce the risk of disease, dementia, and inflammation, as well as promote natural weight loss and provide a heaping source of essential amino acids, and are a complete protein. They are also gluten-free and high in heart-healthy fatty acids.

Here's everything you need to know about edamame, and why they're worth ordering as a starter at the restaurant and purchasing frozen at your local grocery store.

What is Edamame?

Edamame hulls are the green-colored, rubbered textured hollow bean pods you see most often served at Japanese restaurants. Technically, they are immature soybeans, which are pale in color, and are generally used in making processed foods like tofu. Edamame is native to Asia and became a popular crop in the US, specifically in Arkansas, which was the first state to produce edamame here and remains the leading producer of domestic edamame.

Vitamins and Minerals in Edamame

Edamame is packed with healthy disease-fighting vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants that can help the body fight oxidative stress and damage from free radicals that cause aging, disease and low energy. Vitamins also help strengthen the immune system. Edamame delivers a healthy dose of:

  • Vitamine A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Calcium
  • Folate
  • Copper
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Potassium
  • Riboflavin
  • Thiamine
  • Zinc

Where to buy edamame: They're easily found in packages at your local grocery store in the frozen section. Don't get confused with the label since sometimes they're labeled as vegetable soybeans but if they are green and in a pod, you are buying the right thing.

The 5 Health Benefits of Edamame

There are many reasons to eat edamame, but here are 5 main ones that will make you want to add edamame to your daily diet. Eat this baby soybean to protect against stokes, fight diseases, lower inflammation, reduce your risk of dementia, lower your risk of breast or prostate cancer, and help repair your muscles with plant-based protein. Plus since they are full of fiber and keep you full for hours, they are great for promoting natural weight loss.

1. Helps Fight Diseases

Edamame contains high levels of isoflavones, a type of antioxidant that may reduce your risk of cancer and lower inflammation in the body. They have also been shown to be protective against stroke.

Isoflavones, the plant chemical in soybean, has been shown to prevent inflammation in a lab-conducted study. The study showed that isoflavones help reduce diseases by decreasing the concentrations of malondialdehyde, a natural compound that acts as a marker for oxidative stress in the body. This also includes cardiovascular inflammation associated with stroke.

Soy and Cancer Connection

Because edamame and soy contain phytoestrogens, they act as a blocker to actual estrogen uptake in the body, according to Lee Crosby, and RD, LD, a resident dietician and breast cancer expert with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). Soy, or specifically the phytoestrogen in soy products like tofu and edamame, functions as a brake that inhibits cell growth.

Animal estrogen acts on the alpha receptors in your cells and promotes growth, while plant estrogens act on the beta estrogen receptors, and help suppress cancer, especially breast cancer and other hormonal cancers (such as prostate), studies have found.

2. Provides Complete Protein

Just one cup of cooked edamame contains 17 grams of complete plant-based protein, which can certainly help you meet your daily recommended amount of protein in a healthy, clean way. Edamame contains all 9 essential amino acids and is unique because it's the only plant-based source of complete protein. Studies have shown that replacing animal protein with plant-based protein lowers your risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions.

On average, a woman should aim to eat 46 grams of protein and a man about 56 grams of protein per day (more if you are training hard or extremely active). That said, two cups of edamame will help you get halfway to that goal.

3. Helps Protect Against Stroke

Edamame is rich in folate, a mineral that has been associated with reduced cardiovascular disease by having the power to lower homocysteine levels, according to a study. The study makes it clear that folate does not reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease per se, but has the ability to protect against stroke which is linked to heart disease.

In the same study with 300 participants, one group took a placebo drug and the other group supplemented with folate (B9), and results found that the supplementation group reduced their risk of stroke by 25 percent.

4. Reduces Your Risk of Dementia

Folate is one well-rounded mineral and edamame contains 458 mcg of folate per 160 grams, that's more than the daily recommended value which is 200-400 mcg. Folate has also shown a positive observation between Alzheimer's disease and dementia by having the ability to naturally lower homocysteine levels, according to an observational study.

5. Promotes Weight Loss

One cup of cooked edamame beans contains 8 grams of fiber. Doctors and nutritionists recommend a high-fiber diet for weight loss because when soluble fiber is consumed, it turns into a gel-like substance which then helps the body feel fuller longer.

Fiber also slows the absorption of nutrients in the body, which means you avoid a spike in blood sugar or a surge in insulin. When insulin is activated, it signals the body to either "use the fuel or store it as fat," according. to Dr. Will Bulsiewicz, a gastroenterologist and bestselling author of Fiber Fueled: The Plant-Based Gut Health Program for Losing Weight, Restoring Your Health, and Optimizing Your Microbiome. Dr. Bulsiewicz used a high-fiber plant-based diet to lose 50 pounds and keep it off and educates patients about how to eat more fiber.

By eating high-fiber foods like edamame, the energy you just ate gets used slowly over time. Without fiber, the calories in your food such as sugar or carbs flood the bloodstream, and insulin will get activated to cart all the extra energy that you can't use off to be stored for later.

The fiber in edamame helps a small steady stream of calories stick around longer to be used up, instead of being flooded and cleaned up and removed as fat. Meanwhile, this signals to the body that you are full and don't need to eat again. Fiber in foods like edamame and greens, vegetables, and other legumes helps you burn fat while having more steady energy. When you avoid feeling hungry, it helps to promote natural, effortless weight loss.

How to Prepare Edamame

Edamame is simple to prepare and cook. Bring a large pot of water with salt to boil and add the edamame and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until their color turns bright green. Drain the water, sprinkle with salt, and serve hot or warm. Remove the beans from the pods and add to a green salad or Asian-style noodle salad.

How Often to Eat Edamame

Edamame is safe to eat every day. Aim for between half a cup and a full cup of cooked edamame. Have it as a snack, sprinkle it on top of salads, grain bowls, or add to pasta. Don't take powdered soy protein since you could end up getting more than your body needs.

Bottom Line: Eat Edamame Daily to Fight Disease and Promote Weight Loss

Bottom Line: Eat edamame for its health benefits such as reducing your risk of disease, stroke, and inflammation, and boosting weight loss. Try them plain, with a pinch of salt, a drizzle of soy sauce, or mixed in a salad.

For more great articles like this one, check out The Beet's Health & Nutrition column.

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