Edamame: 10 benefits that make this Japanese bean a boon for heart and weight

The popularity of Japanese foods have increased takers for not just sushi, sashimi and miso, but also edamame. Have a tough time, pronouncing it, do you? Well, it may be a bit of a tongue twister, but is also tantalising for your taste buds and beneficial for health. Edamame has multiple health benefits due to its nutritional profile. Let us tell you more about these little wonders!

What is edamame?

Immature soybeans are called edamame, and they are sometimes also referred to as a vegetable-type soybean, says Jagriti Barar, Clinical Nutritionist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Malad, Mumbai. “Soybean is a versatile food crop that can be developed into soya products-tofu, soybean oil, soy sauce, miso, and tempeh. It can also be consumed as whole in the form of edamame or green soybean,” the expert tells Health Shots.

Nutrition facts about edamame

Edamame is considered a complete protein that is packed with essential amino acids needed for muscle maintenance. Just 100 grams of edamame contains roughly 9.4g of protein and 129 kcal. It is a valuable source of a variety of other nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, calcium and iron. Additionally, it is rich in healthy fiber, antioxidants and vitamin K.

Edamame is packed with protein and fibre. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Heath benefits of edamame

Edamame are small in size, but big on benefits. According to the nutritionist, here are some health benefits of edamame.

1. Edamame is an effective plant protein

Protein is an important building block for health. While it may be easy to find good quality protein for non-vegetarians, it can be difficult for vegetarians and even tougher for vegans. “One concern is the relatively low protein content of many plant foods, but adding edamame to the diet can solve this problem, as this plant protein is packed with all essential amino acids,” says Barar.

2. Edamame helps improves heart health

The expert cites that according to studies, edamame improves cardiovascular health. “The properties of soy protein are such that it can lower the low-density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol levels. Mostly plant-based fats are unsaturated, whereas animal fats tend to be saturated. Consuming too much-saturated fats can contribute to heart disease and other cardiovascular problems. So, edamame is a kind of soy protein can be a healthy plant-based substitute compared to animal protein,” she adds.

3. Edamame may help in weight loss

Yes, edamame can be a good weight loss food to add in your diet and can even be eaten as a snack! “Edamame is a good choice for weight loss. It is high in protein and fiber-rich, helping you to reduce extra inches,” says Barar.

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Edamame for weight loss
Edamame can take you closer to your weight loss goals. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

4. Can help to manage premenopause symptoms

The consumption of edamame is linked to a reduction in premenopausal symptoms including hot flashes, fatigue, irritability and night sweats. This is because of natural levels of phytoestrogens, also called isoflavones, says the nutritionist.

5. Edamame can help to manage osteoporosis

These soy isoflavones may slow bone loss and improve bone strength, reducing these most visible signs of osteoporosis.

6. Improves skin health

Edamame benefits for skin are widely known. The isoflavones present in edamame are said to boost collagen in the skin. This leads to a visible decrease in common skin ageing signs such as fine lines and wrinkles. However, the expert points out that more studies are needed for proof.

7. Diabetes management

These little snacks can be a great choice for diabetic people due to its low in glycemic index. Its consumption is said to not raise blood sugar levels.

8. Reduced risk of prostate cancer

A study notes that soy products are associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer, making it beneficial for men.

9. Support a healthy pregnancy

Diet is an important aspect of a healthy pregnancy. Since edamame is a rich source of folate, iron and plant-based protein – all essential nutrients during pregnancy – it makes it a food worth having. What’s more? “Edamame is a great non-heme iron source. This can help you prevent anaemia. Since mostly pregnant ladies are anaemic, consuming these green soybeans can be helpful,” says Barar.

10. Reduces risk of depression

The folate content in edamame reduces the risk of depression by stopping too much of a substance called homocysteine from forming in the body. High levels of homocysteine can prevent blood and other nutrients from reaching the brain, and they can interfere with the production of the hormone serotonin, shares the nutrition expert.

Also read: Know how the Japanese diet can help you fight fatty liver disease

Edamame for health
Eat edamame in moderation. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Side effects of edamame

No matter what the health benefits maybe, excessive consumption of any foods may prove detrimental. While edamame may be safe to consume unless you have a soy allergy, watch how much you eat.

There are concerns that some of the isoflavones in soy, known as phytoestrogens, mimic estrogen. The risk of breast cancer increases if the level of estrogen is high in the body. But the expert says there is no clear-cut evidence that suggests that soy products increase the risk of breast or other types of cancer.

Another concern regarding soy products is that it may disrupt the thyroid gland functioning. People with hypothyroidism, especially, may be at risk from soy-induced disruptions. “This issue can be worked out as thyroid medication is taken in the morning and you can consume edamame a few hours later in lunch or dinner,” suggests the expert.

How to eat edamame?

Edamame can be boiled, steamed, pan-fried, or even microwaved until cooked. It is traditionally cooked with a pinch of salt, but even garlic is a common condiment that goes well with these beans. In Japanese and Chinese cuisine, it is consumed with sushi, but it can be added to soup, salads or can be eaten as a snack.

While cooking or buying edamame, here’s what to keep in mind:

* Frozen edamame will cook faster than fresh.
* Adding salt to the boiling or steaming water will help to flavour the beans as they cook.
* Quality matters so buy or source beans that look bright green. The edamame should be tender and fresh. If unsure, about the worms, first shell the edamame pods and then steam only the inner green beans.
* Edamame should be preferably eaten on the same day. However, fresh edamame will stay edible for three days when stored in the refrigerator.
* Keep them moist to prevent discoloration and wilting of edamame

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