Edamame is a popular type of soybean dish that can be eaten as a snack or used as an ingredient in many dishes. The soybean originated from China and was later introduced to Japan, where it became a part of the regular diet. Edamame contains high levels of protein, fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium, magnesium and potassium. It also contains all nine essential amino acids which makes this vegetable a nutritional powerhouse. Unfortunately there are some side effects associated with eating too much edamame. In this article, we will discuss this vegetable’s many health benefits as well as its possible side effects.
Edamame Side Effects
Although there are many benefits to eating edamame, it can also cause some unpleasant side effects.
Soy is a common food allergen. Allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to them can range from mild itching and hives to life-threatening anaphylaxis (12). If you have other food allergies, your doctor may want to test you for soy allergy as well.
Might Cause Hypothyroidism
There is concern that edamame might cause or worsen hypothyroidism because soy contains goitrogens which can hypothetically interfere with the proper functioning of your thyroid gland. However, studies have not found soy to have significant effects on thyroid function in healthy people, and even those with compromised thyroid function need not avoid soy products as long as they also get enough iodine (6).
One of the possible edamame side effects is diarrhea. Since this vegetable contains fiber which helps with bowel movement, if you eat too much of it, an excess amount of fiber could result in some loose stools, especially if you are not used to eating much fiber. If you want to increase your fiber intake, it’s best to do so gradually and make sure you are also drinking plenty of fluids (12).
High Intake Of Phytoestrogens
Soy contains phytoestrogens, molecules which are similar enough to the human hormone estrogen to bind to its receptor sites on cells in the body. In some cases, this results in weak estrogen-like activity and in other cases it prevents actual estrogen from binding and therefore inhibits its effects. (13). For most people, consuming soy in moderate amounts is completely safe and won’t cause any adverse effects.
Edamame Side Effects: Is It Safe To Eat?
Edamame is very safe to eat. If you are concerned about a possible allergy or how phytoestrogens may affect you, discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider. In general, however, moderate soy intake does not pose significant risks and is considered safe for most people.
Edamame Health Benefits
Despite having a few possible side effects, Edamame is a healthy vegetable that contains high levels of nutrients. In moderation, it can be very beneficial. Eating a serving of this vegetable offers the following health benefits:
High In Fiber
Due to its high fiber content, edamame can help treat constipation and improve bowel movement. Fibers also help with weight loss and lowering cholesterol. If you are suffering from diabetes, eating edamame can help lower your blood sugar levels (7).
High In Protein
A cup (155 grams) of cooked edamame provides around 18.5 grams of protein which is about 34% of the recommended daily intake for adults (2). The high protein content is very important for pregnant women because it helps with fetal development. Proteins also play a vital role in muscle growth and repair.
High In Vitamins
One serving of edamame contains a decent percentage of your daily vitamin E, magnesium, folate, and manganese intake. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps with the prevention of cardiovascular disease while folate prevents neural tube deformities during fetal development (16). Magnesium helps with the release of energy in your body while manganese is used for bone formation and collagen synthesis (9).
Low In Saturated Fat
Saturated fats are not good for your heart’s health because they contribute to increasing LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels. Edamame contains almost no saturated fat so it can help protect you from developing cardiovascular diseases (15).
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High In Iron
Edamame is high in iron for a plant food, which is essential for the production of red blood cells. Eating this vegetable can help prevent conditions that result from low iron levels, such as fatigue and dizziness. It also prevents anemia because it prevents excessive bleeding during heavy periods or after childbirth (1).
High In Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Omega-6 fatty acids are essential nutrients for your body. While an excessive amount of omega-6 compared to omega-3 fatty acids in the diet has been linked to increased inflammation, eating edamame is unlikely to lead to such an imbalance. Plus, polyunsaturated fats in general can help improve blood lipid levels, especially when they replace saturated fats in the diet (8).
May Reduce The Risk Of Breast Cancer
Due to its phytoestrogens content, edamame might help inhibit the growth of cancerous cells in your breasts. Research has also shown that it may prevent the metastasis of breast cancer by exerting anti-estrogenic activity. However, the effects of soy isoflavones in the body are complicated and more long-term controlled studies are needed to prove these claims (15).
May Reduce The Risk Of Prostate Cancer
About one in seven men will get prostate cancer at some point in his life. Men with diets that are high in soy products, such as cooked edamame, may have a lower risk of developing this type of cancer. Currently, there is not enough evidence to show that eating edamame can prevent prostate cancer (15).
However, several observational studies indicate that a diet high in soy products, including edamame is associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer. More research is needed to confirm the link between edamame and prostate cancer (15).
Might Reduce Osteoporosis Risk
Research has shown that women who eat more soy foods tend to have thicker bones and denser bones than women who rarely consume it. This may be due to its isoflavones and calcium content (14).
May Help Prevent Diabetes
The high fiber and protein found in edamame can help lower blood sugar levels if you already suffer from diabetes. Fiber also helps slow the absorption of sugars by slowing down digestion, preventing sharp blood sugar spikes (7).
May Reduce Menopausal Symptoms
Edamame is high in phytoestrogens, which might help with conditions that occur during menopause such as hot flashes and mood swings (15). However, data is conflicting on whether soy phytoestrogens exert enough estrogen-like activity to have a meaningful effect on these symptoms.
Recommendations For Eating Edamame
Although you can eat edamame as an appetizer, side dish, or snack, it is best to consume this vegetable alongside other whole foods. For example, you can have it with fish and brown rice or stir-fried with chicken and veggies. This helps you to keep your portions in check and avoid eating too much of this vegetable.
If you want to eat edamame as a snack, the serving size is about a half cup shelled (or just over 1 cup in the pods).
To get the most nutrients and minerals from this vegetable, it is recommended to steam it for around three to five minutes. Steaming prevents the loss of important vitamins such as vitamin C and folate while retaining all of edamame’s other healthy components such as proteins and omega-3 fatty acids.
Where To Buy Edamame
Even though edamame is widely available in supermarkets, try looking in your local Japanese or Korean grocery stores for a wider selection of fresh ones because they may be cheaper in these areas. Frozen types are also available throughout the year so you won’t miss out on the health benefits even when these vegetables are not in season.
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Edamame Recipes And Meal Ideas
Here are some top edamame recipes you can try out at home:
Edamame Hummus (4)
It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for an appetizer or a snack. This simple recipe served with crackers or pita bread delivers a delicious combo that will have you come back for more. Here’s how you make it:
- ½ cup tahini
- ⅓ cup lemon juice (about 2 to 3 lemons)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
- 1 medium clove garlic, roughly chopped
- ½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- ½ cup light;y packed fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
- 1 ½ cups shelled edamame (10 ounces), preferably organic, defrosted if frozen
- 2 to 4 tablespoons water, as necessary
- Sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
- Combine the lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, garlic and salt in the bowl of a food processor or high-powered blender.
- Process the mixture for about 1 ½ minutes until it is well blended only stopping to scrape down the base and sides of the bowl as needed.
- Now add the cilantro and continue pressing for about a minute until all the herbs are well blended in the mixture and it turns smooth. Stop to scrape down the bowl as necessary.
- Place half the edamame in the food processor plus 2 tablespoons of water and process for about a minute. After scraping down the bowl, add the remaining edamame and continue processing for 1 or 2 more minutes until the humus is thick and smooth.
- Taste then blend in additional salt if the humus has not yet attained the desired taste.
- Scrape the humus onto a small serving bowl then lightly drizzle the olive oil over the top.
- Finally sprinkle over a few sesame seeds and some additional cilantro leaves if desired.
This recipe is courtesy of cookieandkate.com
Edamame Quinoa Salad (5)
This is a light, healthy and simple meal that is packed with lots of superfoods. Here’s how you make it:
- 2 cups uncooked quinoa
- 4 cups water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup celery, sliced
- 1 (15 oz) can corn, drained
- 1 (15 oz) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
- ¾ cup cilantro, finely minced
- 1 heaping cup dried cranberries
- 1 (12 oz package) edamame, cooked and shelled
- 2 red bell peppers, diced
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 tablespoons lime juice
- Salt to taste
- Start by adding the water, quinoa and salt to a medium saucepan and bring it to a boil.
- Once boiled, turn down the heat to lower, cover it and let it cook for about 15-20 minutes or until done. Remove and transfer to a large bowl then fluff it using a fork.
- Add in the remaining ingredients and toss until they are well combined. Add salt to taste and serve.
This recipe is courtesy of the-girl-who-ate-everything.com
Edamame And Pea Bruschetta Recipe (3)
For the best experience, add spread this onto toasted bread or thin it out using hot pasta water then use it as pasta sauce. Here’s how you make it:
- 1 cup frozen shelled edamame (soybean)
- ½ cup frozen peas
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 scallions, chopped
- ¼ cup packed basil leaves
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper
- Baguette, cut into slices and toasted
- Pour water in a medium saucepan and bring it to a boil.
- Add ½ tablespoon of salt and the edamame to the water and cook it for about 4 minutes before adding the peas. Cook for an extra minute.
- Put some fresh ice water in a separate large bowl that will be used in cooling the peas and edamame once they are cooked.
- Transfer the peas and edamame to the ice bath using a slotted spoon. Let it cool then drain it and set aside.
- Next, pulse the scallions and garlic a couple times in a food processor. Add the basil leaves, peas and edamame and pulse an extra 3-4 times until the mixture is chopped into very small pieces.
- Let the processor continue running then carefully stream the olive oil over the mixture until everything is well combined. At this point it should have the appearance of a thick pesto.
- Remove and transfer to a bowl and stir in the cheese, freshly ground pepper and a pinch of salt.
- Toast slices of the baguette using a griddle or oven then smear one tablespoon onto each slice and serve.
This recipe is courtesy of inspiredtaste.net
The Bottom Line
Although edamame has a few potential side effects when consumed in large quantities, the benefits it provides outweigh them. Eating this vegetable can help protect your heart and prevent several common diseases that occur as you age. It is also a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals so it can be a great addition to your diet.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Eat Smart to Prevent Iron Deficiency (2019, fhs.gov.hk)
- Edamame, cooked (2020, usda.gov)
- Edamame and Pea Bruschetta Recipe (n.d., inspiredtaste.net)
- Edamame Hummus (n.d., cookieandkate.com)
- Edamame Quinoa Salad (2014, the-girl-who-ate-everything.com)
- Effects of soy protein and soybean isoflavones on thyroid function in healthy adults and hypothyoid patients: a review of the relevant literature (2006, pubmed.gov)
- Health benefits of dietary fiber (2009, pubmed.gov)
- Health Implications of High Dietary Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (2012, nih.gov)
- Magnesium (2021, nih.gov)
- Oxalate and phytate of soy foods (2005, pubmed.gov)
- Reproductive consequences of Developmental Phytoestrogen Exposure (2012, nih.gov)
- Soy Allergy: Symptoms, Treatment & Tests (n.d., clevelandclinic.org)
- Soy and Health Update: Evaluation of the Clinical and Epidemiologic Literature (2016, nih.gov)
- Soy foods: are they useful for optimal bone health (2011, nih.gov)
- Straight Talk About Soy (n.d., harvard.edu)
- Vitamin E (2021, nih.gov)