Green Soyabeans - Edamame - Nutrition - Health Benefits - Recipes
What Is Edamame?
Quite simply, edamame are green immature soybean pods that have been harvested before they have had a chance to mature. They are also called green soybeans.
In fact, Edamame is also the name of a Japanese dish which is prepared with the whole pods and served as a snack or appetiser.
Latin Name : Glycine max. (L.) Merr.
Edamame is available both fresh and frozen. It is a popular Asian food much prepared in the cuisines of China, Japan and Korea, and even Hawaii.
As soybean and edamame differ in their level of maturity, their nutrition levels too follow this trend.
Always cook edamame before eating as they contain many anti nutritional substances, phytoestrogens and toxic factors. These get neutralised by boiling or cooking.
Edamame is generally boiled, lightly steamed or roasted, and salted, before eating. It may also be shelled and added to soups and salads, etc.
Nutritional Difference Between Soybeans & Edamame
In the same quantity by weight:
- Soybeans provide more than double the calories and protein than that provided by edamame.
- Soybeans also have twice as much carbohydrates, total fat and saturated fat as edamame.
- The fiber content of soybeans is about one and half times more than that of edamame.
- Soybeans are several times richer in folic acid, iron and calcium content as compared to edamame.
Soybean can be eaten on their own or made into products like soy paste, tofu, tempeh, soyabean curd, etc while edamame can be consumed as a stir fry, salads, soups, etc.
Nutrients In Edamame
- Edamame provides all the 9 essential amino acids needed by our body and hence it is a source of complete protein.
- Rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids especially the omega-6 fatty acids. It also contains the omega-3 fat, alpha linoleic acid.
- Gluten and cholesterol free.
- Low in calories & sodium.
- Contains moderate amounts of many vitamins and minerals, and plant sterols.
- Contains high levels of manganese, magnesium and copper minerals.
See the nutrient details in the table below:
Edamame beans (Phaseolus lunatus L), Raw, frozen, unprepared,
Nutritive value per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Percentage of RDA
Edamame Health Benefits
- Edamame is rich in many phytoestrogens, the pant estrogens, predominatly the isoflavones, genistein, daidzein and glycitein. The offer several health benefits, like lowering the LDL cholesterol levels and raising the HDL cholesterol levels, thereby lowering the risk of heart disease.
They also prevent cell damage by the rampant free radicals, prevent plaque deposition in the arteries as they prevent the oxidation of the cholesterol. They lower blood pressure.
- The isoflavone genistein increases the activity of the tumor suppressor protein p53 which also triggers the self destruction of the cancer cells.
Though processing of soybean has been found to increase the risk of certain cancers, breast cancer for instance, edamame, because it is unprocessed, would not show the ill effects associated with processed soy consumption.
To remain on the safe side, even the consumption of edamame needs to be kept moderate. After all, even good food in excess can make one sick.
- The various minerals in edamame like calcium, phosphorus, iron, and vit C, all help to maintain bone density, lower incidence of osteoporosis and bone fractures.
- The various vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in edamame boosts the body's immunity.
- The isoflavone genistein has also been found to improve lung function thereby benefitting those suffering from asthma to breathe easier.
- The high amounts of fiber ensures constipation is kept away and also helps in digestion and lowering of cholesterol levels.
- Since edamame has a low glycemic index those having diabetes would benefit as it controls the blood sugar and insulin levels from spiking high.
- It reduces the risk of obesity as the high fiber content keeps hunger at bay longer and the low calories and fat content of this legume also lend a helping hand in this matter.
- In post menopausal women especially, and normal individuals too, edamame helps to maintain skin health and delays skin aging by its antioxidant effect as well as the isoflavones it contains.
The isoflavones reduce hot flushes in women at menopause.
- Edamame folic acid not only prevents neural tube defects in the foetus but also promotes fertility in women and reduces depression.
The folate controls the formation of excessive levels of homocysteine, whose levels, if unchecked, can cause sleep and appetite problems.
To eat edamame/soybean or not, is a topic that has been, and still is, widely debated.
However, the fact is that there is substantial evidence that edamame and its mature form, soybean, both have several nutritional elements that support good health.
Conversely, some studies also indicate that certain anti nutritional factors present in them can cause undesirable effects in both men and women. For example, the can adversely affect sexual development in males and icrease breast cancer risk in women.
The isoflavones present in this legume is responsible for both the good as well as the bad effects.
These isoflavones also interfere with the thyroid function though no conclusive evidence of their causing hypothyroidism has been found. Still unless one has a thyroid issue or some other health issue that warrants staying off edamame/soybean you can still eat and benefit from its many nutrients.
Edamame/soybean are high in phytates and this may reduce the absorbability of certain minerals that bind to the phytic acid like calcium, iron, zinc.
Possibly, the best way out would be to take go easy on the consumption of both edamame and soybean, and consume it, in moderation only.
After all, even good food, in excess, can make a person sick.
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This article is just for information purposes and it is advised that you consult your healthcare provider or medical doctor before you start any new health regime or supplements.
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© 2016 Rajan Singh Jolly