Edamame is Japanese for “Stem Peas” and is a very common snack food. It is actually a soy bean that has not fully grown, it is commonly boiled in salt water and served in Japanese pubs known as izakaya. Edamame have become popular in Western countries over the last decade and are commonly eaten by vegans and vegetarians as a protein source. In this article we are going to look at some of the main health benefits of eating edamame.
There have (perhaps obviously) been almost no studies on the health benefits of edamame. It is not a common enough food in the West to be considered research-worthy. However, edamame is essentially soy protein, and there have been many studies on the benefits of this. As such, a lot of this article will be based on this.
1. Edamame Is An Excellent Source Of Protein
While not considered to be a particularly high protein meal by many who eat it, edamame actually has some pretty impressive protein content. A 100g serving of edamame would provide 10.88g of protein, and it is only 122 calories! This is a very high protein to calorie ratio. Excellent for people who are on a diet.
The benefits of following a high protein diet are too numerous to fit into this one article, but we’ll give a quick rundown. It can increase your metabolism (admittedly only by a little bit), help you to build muscle, help you to increase strength, and help you to recover fully from intense exercise. A high protein diet can also increase satiety (how full you feel after a meal) and therefore lead to a reduction in overall calorie intake.
For an omnivore, edamame may not appear to special. A sirloin steak contains twice as much protein per 100g, but for a vegetarian or vegan edamame is a great high-protein food.
2. Edamame Is High In Fiber
There is 5.2g of fiber per 100g of edamame, around 20% of your RDA just from this small snack. This is a low-calorie food with a surprising fiber punch, making it a fantastic choice for anyone who is following a fat loss diet.
Fiber has many benefits, it can increase satiety, improve digestion, improve gut health, reduce blood sugar spikes, and improve heart health. Fiber can also help to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. A 2015 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those who consumed the highest amount of fiber had the lowest incidence of colorectal and colon cancer .
3. Edamame Is Perfect For A Healthy Pregnancy
Folate or vitamin B9 is a commonly taken supplement for pregnant women, this is because it has been shown to reduce the risk of neural tube defects (known as NTDs). A meta-analysis published in the Journal of obstetrics and Gynecology Canada found that taking folic acid (the synthetic version of folate) and a multivitamin led to a significant reduction in the incidence of neural tube defects .
There is also evidence that folate can reduce the risk of spina bifida (a birth defect where the spinal cord does not develop properly in the womb) by 30% . A 2015 study published in Scientific Reports found that taking folic acid led to a 28% reduction in the risk of the baby developing a congenital heart defect .
A 100g serving of edamame provides 78% of your recommended daily allowance of folate making it an excellent food for pregnant women, or for women who are looking to become pregnant. Speaking of which …
4. Edamame May Help To Improve Fertility
Thanks to its high folate content, edamame is effective at improving fertility. Folate is necessary for spermatogenesis (sperm creation and development) in the testes, without it men would be infertile. A diet rich in folate, zinc, and antioxidants has been found to be effective for the prevention of low fertility in men .
But it isn’t just the folate content that makes edamame so effective at improving fertility, remember edamame is another name for soy beans that have not fully grown. Soya has been repeatedly shown to be effective at improving female fertility. Studies have shown that it can improve menstruation  and lead to higher rates of ovulation.
The belief that soy can negatively affect male fertility has also been disproven by science . Overall, edamame appears to improve the fertility of both men and women, making it an excellent snack for couples looking to conceive.
5. Edamame Can Help Protect Bone Health In Women
A 100g serving of edamame provides 26% of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin K. This is an overlooked vitamin, that nevertheless offers some great benefits. One of these benefits is its ability to protect bone mineral density in older women.
Post-menopause, women are much more likely to develop osteoporosis. This is where the bones become weaker and more fragile. Studies have repeatedly shown that vitamin K has the ability to protect bone density from this .
It would be incorrect to say that vitamin K strengthens bones, rather you would say that it protects bone health. Combine your edamame-filled diet with some strength training and you should be able to strengthen and protect your bones whatever your age .
6. Edamame May Help To Lower Cholesterol & Blood Pressure
Edamame contains vitamin K, which has been linked with a reduction in arterial stiffening and a lower risk of vascular damage by preventing calcium from sticking to the walls of blood vessels . Both of these can lead to raised blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease.
It also contains soy protein, which has repeatedly been linked with a reduction in LDL (bad) cholesterol therefore lowering the risk of atherosclerosis . This will reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering your blood pressure.
7. Edamame May Help Reduce The Risk Of Certain Cancers
Edamame may help to protect you against several forms of cancer. We’ve already covered the effect that edamame has on colorectal cancer thanks to its high fiber content. But as a soy protein-based food, edamame may also be effective at reducing the chances of contracting breast or prostate cancer.
A 2009 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the consumption of foods containing high amounts of soy “is associated with a reduction in prostate cancer risk in men” . While a study on Asian-American women found that high intakes of soy protein as a child led to a marked reduction in breast cancer risk in later life .
It seems that edamame has a positive role in the prevention of certain cancers.
Because of its high protein content, edamame is fast becoming the go-to protein source for many vegetarians and vegans. But it appears that edamame has benefits that everyone can enjoy. Men, women, the young, the old, vegetarians, vegans, and omnivores.
What stands out the most, is its effectiveness in fertility, conception, and pregnancy. Its ability to increase protein synthesis is also a bonus as this has many benefits when it comes to your strength, physique, and ability to recover.
As with all food, you won’t get benefits from eating it once per year, and nor should you be looking to eat it with every meal. But adding edamame to your regular diet could have a whole host of benefits to your health.