Health Benefits of Edamame

Are Edamame Good for People With Diabetes?

Edamame
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If you've ever been to a Japanese restaurant, chances are you've snacked on edamame—firm little beans encased inside fuzzy green pods that burst into your mouth when eating. But you don't need to be eating out to enjoy this protein-packed snack. Edamame is easily available in the freezer section of most grocery stores. It's not only fun to eat, it's nutritious too. Here's why you may want to eat more edamame.

What Are Edamame?

Edamame are soy beans that are harvested early—while they are still green. An early harvest produces a soft, sweeter bean than if they were allowed to fully mature on the vine. You can find frozen shelled and unshelled soy beans in most grocery stores these days, in the frozen vegetable section. They are a quick cook, taking just five or six minutes to boil. Lightly salted you can enjoy them as a snack, or toss them in salads, soups, or any recipe in the place of other beans.

Edamame Nutrition Facts

Edamame is rich in protein, high in fiber, low in saturated fat, and nutrient dense. One cup in the shell contains about 250 calories, 20 grams carbohydrate, 8 grams of fiber, 22 grams of protein and about 10 grams of healthy fats. It also gives you over a day's worth of folate, as well as a range of other B vitamins and minerals, including potassium. Edamame make for a good source of non-animal based protein and are commonly consumed in vegan and vegetarian meal plans. 

Edamame and Diabetes

As far as studies into the benefits of soy go, the problem is that most soy studies have been relatively short in duration and involved a small sample size. Because of this, most researchers agree that further research into the benefits of soy is needed. But preliminary research suggests that soy protein may help reduce insulin resistance, kidney damage, and fatty liver in people with diabetes.

One particular study, conducted in a population-based prospective cohort of middle-aged Chinese women with no history of type 2 diabetes, cancer, or cardiovascular disease found that the ingestion of soy beans was inversely associated with the risk of type 2 diabetes. 

Edamame and Heart Health and Cancer

Several studies have suggested that regularly eating whole soy foods (not foods with added soy ingredients) may yield healthier cholesterol levels. The health benefits of soy is due, at least in part, to a type of phytoestrogen called isoflavones, which appear to work with certain proteins in soy to protect against cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis. Most controversial is the research into soy and cancer prevention, and soy should be avoided if you are taking the anti-cancer drug tamoxifen—it has been shown to antagonize the effects of this drug in some types of breast cancer.

How to Eat Edamame

There are two main ways to enjoy edamame—in and out of the shell. If you have edamame in the shell, you'll simply need to cook the pods in boiling water, drain, add a sprinkle of salt and then use your teeth to drag the beans out of the shell (they pop out easily).

If you are using shelled edamame, you can add it as you would other beans: to top a salad, to boost the protein content of a whole grain side dish or use it in a recipe where edamame is a key ingredient, such as this low carb garlicky olive, walnut, and edamame mix. 

A Word From Verywell 

Edamame, otherwise known as a soy bean, is a convenient and nutritious whole food form of soy protein that can be included in a diabetes meal plan. It's high fiber and protein content make it a filling snack that, when portioned correctly, can help to keep your blood sugars stable. As with any food product, make sure to read labels for the appropriate portion size. Simply eat edamame as is or incorporate it into your favorite recipes. 

Sources

Azadbakht L, Esmaillzadeh A. Soy-protein consumption and kidney-related biomarkers among type 2 diabetics: a crossover, randomized clinical trial. J Ren Nutr. 2009 Nov;19(6):479-86.

Rideout TC, Chan YM, Harding SV, Jones PJ. Low and moderate-fat plant sterol fortified soymilk in modulation of plasma lipids and cholesterol kinetics in subjects with normal to high cholesterol concentrations: report on two randomized crossover studies. Lipids Health Dis. 2009 Oct 20;8:45.

Morimoto Y, Steinbrecher A, Kolonel LN, Maskarinec G. Soy consumption is not protective against diabetes in Hawaii: the Multiethnic Cohort. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010 Oct 6.

Steinberg FM, Murray Mj, Lewis RD, et al. Clinical outcomes of a 2-y soy isoflavone supplementation in menopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Dec 22.

Villegas, Raquel, et. al. Legume and soy food intake and the incidence of type 2 diabetes in the shanghai women's health study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Jan; 87(1):162-167. 

 

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