Edamame beans are unripe and green soybeans that are fresh from the pod. Just like any other beans, edamame beans are also packed with nutrients that contribute to optimal health and well-being. Since the beans are immature, they are very soft and crunchy, making them a perfect ingredient for salads and stir fries. Edamame beans are popular in the cuisines of countries like China, Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan and Korea. The pods are steamed or boiled and then served with salt. Soybean has been long used as a protein source and meat alternative by vegetarians and vegans because Edamame beans will provide all the health benefits that is obtained by eating meat. It is served as an appetizer in many Japanese restaurants and is becoming more and more popular among health conscious people.
Nutritional value of Edamame beans
Because of the high nutritional content, edamame is often consumed fresh as a healthy snack. It is a rich source of carbohydrates, dietary fiber and protein. According to The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics soy products like edamame beans, are the only sources of plant-based protein that are equivalent in quality to meat and eggs. Eating edamame beans regularly can provide a good percentage of your daily requirements of vitamins and minerals. It contains high levels of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E and B group vitamins like thiamine, niacin, riboflavin and folate. Edamame is a rich source of manganese and copper and also provides significant amounts of other essential minerals such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and zinc. Edamame bean is believed to be the only vegetable that contains all the nine amino acids.
Health benefits of Edamame beans
Many nutritionists recommend soy products like edamame in a healthy diet owing to its high nutritional value and health benefitting properties. The nutrients found in these beans help in preventing various health problems and in maintaining a healthy life. Read on to know more about the health benefits of edamame beans:
Edamame beans is good for heart health
As per the American Heart Association, eating foods rich in fiber can lower your risk of heart disease significantly. A study published in the September 2006 issue of “The American Journal of Cardiology” found that eating soy protein may help in increasing the levels of high-density lipoprotein, or “good” cholesterol and decreasing the levels of your triglycerides low-density lipoprotein or “bad” cholesterol and total cholesterol. Moreover, edamame beans are an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (AHA), which is an omega-3 fatty acid that gets converted to EPA and DHA by your body. These compounds are associated with reduced blood cholesterol levels and a lower risk of serious conditions like heart disease and stroke.
Edamame beans and weight loss
According to an article published in the “International Journal of Medical Science”, the consumption of foods such as edamame beans that contain soy protein as part of a low-calorie diet may be helpful in losing fat and maintaining a healthy weight. Edamame, being a rich source of protein and fiber can promote the feeling of fullness for a long time so that you tend to avoid frequent snacking and overeating. Eating edamame beans has also been found to inhibit the absorption of fat by your body.
Edamame beans for healthy skin
Skin is the largest organ in the human body that is also easily vulnerable to damage due to external conditions. In order for your skin to look healthy and beautiful, it is very important to maintain its proper care. Edamame beans contain plenty of antioxidants that help in preventing oxidative damage caused by free radicals. It also helps in repairing damaged skin and in maintaining healthy skin. The isoflavones found in these beans are found to be helpful in controlling age-related skin changes that may occur in postmenopausal women. Collagen is a fibrous protein that is associated with keeping the skin firm, young looking and free from wrinkles. The isoflavones in edamame beans may help in preserving collagen, making your skin supple and smooth.
Edamame beans contributes to bone health
Edamame beans are a good source of manganese, a mineral that plays a vital role in building strong and healthy bones. A cup of cooked edamame beans can provide you with about 1.6 milligrams of this mineral, which constitutes to more than half the recommended daily value for adults. The high levels of vitamin K in these beans are important for increasing bone density. In addition, the beans are also high in minerals like calcium, potassium and magnesium that are needed for maintaining strong bones. The risk of bone conditions like osteoporosis increases as your grow older. Regular consumption of edamame beans has been found to increase bone density and hence reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis. According to a study issued in the “Journal of Clinical Densitometry”, soy contains compounds known as isoflavones that may help in reducing bone loss in postmenopausal women.
Edamame beans can boost your immune system
A healthy immune system is absolutely essential for the body to fight off the various disease causing microbes and keep your body healthy. Edamame beans are high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients that help in strengthening your immune system. The high amounts of copper in these beans help to keep your immune system strong and functioning properly. The vitamin C in edamame beans enhances your immunity and helps in preventing common ailments like flu and cold.
Edamame beans and cancer
Research suggests that incorporating edamame beans in your diet can help prevent cancer and many other diseases. Soybean products have been found to protect against different types of cancers like breast, colon, prostate, and lung cancer. These protective effects are believed to be due to the presence of substances called isoflavones (Genistein, daidzein, and glycitein), which are phytoestrogens or plant estrogens that mimic the hormone estrogen in the human body. Although animal studies reveal mixed effects of soy supplements on breast cancer, studies in humans have not shown any kind of harmful effects. Consumption of soy foods in moderate amounts are found to be safe for everyone including breast cancer survivors and may even help in lowering the risk of breast cancer.
Edamame beans for the better functioning of the lungs
Studies indicate that the consumption of foods rich in isoflavones like genistein may help in improving lung function in people suffering from asthma. Edamame beans are a good source of genistein and hence its regular consumption may lead to improved performance of the lungs.
Edamame beans for digestive health
Adding edamame beans to your diet is a great and inexpensive way to increase your daily intake of fiber. There are many benefits of eating a high-fiber diet, one of them being regular bowel movements, which is important in preventing constipation. It promotes a healthy digestive system by reducing your chances of hemorrhoids, ulcers and colon cancer.
Edamame beans and diabetes
Edamame beans are a healthy food option for people suffering from diabetes. It is a wonderful source of protein, dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals and hence can easily be added to a diabetic diet. Several animal studies have shown that soy foods tend to lower insulin resistance by increasing the production of insulin receptors. High intake of soy products (approximately 200 grams a day) have been associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
Edamame beans controls blood pressure
Edamame beans are low in sodium content. Although sodium is important for managing fluid balance within the body, excessive amounts of it may lead to increased blood pressure levels. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services a diet that contains less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium and at least 4,700 milligrams of potassium may help in avoiding hypertension. Edamame beans are a rich source of potassium that reduces the effects of sodium, thus protecting against high blood pressure. Potassium also functions as a vasodilator that widens the blood vessels allowing for the easy circulation of blood.
Edamame beans have anti-inflammatory properties
Edamame beans have potent anti-inflammatory effects that make them an excellent choice of food for people having arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or other inflammatory conditions. Since they help in reducing inflammation, edamame beans are good for people suffering from asthma.
Edamame beans is a rich source of folate
A single cup of cooked edamame bean is capable of providing over 100 percent of your daily requirements of folate. This B group vitamin is essential for the metabolism of carbohydrate, protein and fat. It also plays a vital role in production of red blood cells, RNA and DNA. Doctors prescribe folate for pregnant ladies as it helps in preventing birth defects in babies. Eating folate – rich foods like edamame beans helps maintain the health of your nervous system and may also reduce your risk of depression, cancer, heart disease and many other health conditions.
Edamame beans help in preventing anemia
Edamame beans are a good source of iron and hence eating them regularly may help in preventing iron-deficiency anemia, which can lead to muscle weakness, tiredness and fatigue. A cup of uncooked edamame beans can provide you with 9 milligrams or 50 % of daily requirement of iron. The high amounts of folate contained in edamame beans are helpful in preventing megaloblastic anemia.
Side effects of Edamame beans
While consumption of edamame beans is considered safe, it may cause mild constipation, bloating or nausea to some people. It may also cause food related allergy in some cases.
Edamame beans have a mild nutty flavor that works perfectly well in a wide range of dishes. Those who like broad beans but need a stronger taste may find the edamame beans very appealing to their palate. Another thing that makes these beans attractive is their versatility – it can be enjoyed fresh on its own as a nutritious snack, hot as an addition to other dishes or cold in salad. Incorporating edamame beans to your diet is a great way to stay healthy as it helps to increase your intake of several health benefitting nutrients. It is being considered as a new super food because of all the nutritional benefits that it offers.Image Credits: Flickr - The 10 cent designer, Flickr - Abstracted Eye