Edamame: The Heart Healthy Soy Protein

Edamame – it has a funny name, and it seems to be everywhere nowadays. Just what is edamame, and why is this soy protein such a great choice for heart health?

What Is Edamame?

First, how do you pronounce edamame? It’s a Japanese word based on eda (branch) and mame (beans), and is pronounced eh-duh-MAH-may. It’s been a popular food in Asia for over two thousand years.

Edamame is simply soybeans which have been harvested a bit early, while the bean is still young and green. They can be eaten while still in the pods, or shelled as beans. They add an interesting texture to salads, can be eaten on their own as a snack, or can be a healthy dinner side dish.

What Are the Heart Health Benefits of Edamame?

Edamame is an excellent source of protein, at 11 grams per half cup serving. The 2.5 grams of fat in each half cup of edamame are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated – the most heart-healthy types, because they lower cholesterol levels, thereby reducing your heart disease risk. As such, edamame is a favored protein source for vegetarians.

Edamame also contains isoflavones, organic compounds which some studies have shown to reduce heart disease risk and lower blood cholesterol levels. Edamame also supplies folate and vitamin K, both of which are important to a healthy heart.

Does Edamame Have Any Negatives?

After reading about all these health benefits, you may be ready to run to the store to stock up on edamame right now. However, there has been some debate over the healthiness of soy products, which include edamame.

Some studies have seemed to show that high soy consumption can lead to dementia, early-onset puberty, thyroid malfunctions, and even increased breast cancer risk.

Most soy studies have involved relatively low numbers of subjects and have been short in duration, and therefore, it’s probably safest to say you should enjoy soy products such as edamame in moderation.

The Food and Drug Administration recommends that 25 grams of soy daily – about one serving of edamame – is a safe level which also can improve heart health.

Edamame is an Excellent Protein Substitute

Without a doubt, edamame is a more healthy protein choice than meat. An analysis of 38 studies where participants substituted soy for meat found that eating an average of 1.5 ounces of soy a day reduced total cholesterol, LDL  (“bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides, while not affecting HDL  (“good”) cholesterol.

How Is Edamame Prepared?

Are you convinced enough to try this heart healthy snack? If so, you’ll need to know how to prepare edamame. If you’re planning on eating edamame in the pod, just wash the pods well and boil them in salted water for 10 minutes. If you choose the frozen, shelled beans, they can be microwaved for just a few minutes and will be ready for the table.

Edamame: it’s tasty and it’s good for your heart. Why not give edamame a try next time you’re at the grocery?


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