You may have had soybeans, but have you ever had edamame? Discover the many health benefits of this tasty snack.
Many people are familiar with the soybean, but few have experienced the sweet, nutty taste of the “green soybean” known as edamame. This tasty bean is growing in popularity as a healthy and nutritious snack, particularly among the college crowd – and for good reason. When compared to other snacks, edamame leads the pack in terms of nutritional value. What are the health benefits of edamame?
What is Edamame?
Edamame refers to soybeans that are harvested and collected when the plant is still young and green. To prepare this tasty vegetable, they’re usually boiled in salt water while still in the pods and served as a snack or side dish. They can also be removed from the pods and added to soups and salads. When eaten as a snack, the pods are usually placed in the mouth and the beans gently squeezed onto the tongue. The pod is then discarded. You can find them served in some vegetarian restaurants on college campuses and in some Japanese restaurants. Unlike mature soybeans that are firm, these young, green soybeans are soft in texture and have more pleasing taste.
Health Benefits of Edamame: Protein, Fat, and Calories
Edamame is an excellent source of low-calorie protein which makes it a popular snack among vegetarian athletes. A half-cup of these young beans has eleven grams of protein and is one of the few vegetarian protein sources that have all nine of the essential amino acids the body can’t make. The fat in edamame is the heart-healthy kind, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that help to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Plus, they’re a caloric bargain at only125 calories.
Health Benefits of Edamame: Fiber
Each half-cup of edamame has four grams of heart-healthy fiber to help lower cholesterol levels and keep you satiated so you won’t reach for a candy bar later on. If you’re like most Americans, you can use the additional fiber boost.
Health Benefits of Edamame: It’s Heart Healthy
The isoflavones found in edamame and other soy products can help to lower the risk of heart disease according to some studies and may also lower blood cholesterol levels. When edamame is used as a protein source in place of meat, the cardiovascular benefits are further enhanced. The issue of whether isoflavones lower the risk of breast cancer is still under debate, so soy products should be eaten in limited quantity in anyone with a history of breast cancer. Edamame is also a good source of folate and vitamin K which are important for heart health.
Health Benefits of Edamame: Bone Health
The isoflavones in edamame help to maintain bone density by exerting estrogen-like effects on bone tissue. It’s also a good source of calcium which is important for strong teeth and bones.
Where Can You Find Edamame?
Edamame used to be sold almost exclusively through natural food markets and Oriental grocery stores, but can now be found in the frozen section of many mainstream grocery stores. Why not give them a try?