Edamame Nutrition Facts

Calories, Carbs, and Health Benefits of Edamame

Edamame annotated
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman  

Edamame is a green soybean that is frequently served in its pod and sprinkled with sea salt. These beans are a rich source of vegetable protein that also packs a hefty amount of fiber and important vitamins. In addition, research shows that consuming soy protein might help to lower your cholesterol and even reduce the risk of certain cancers.

Although some concerns have been raised about potential negative health effects of eating very large amounts of soy, nutritional experts agree that soy—including edamame—is safe when consumed in normal amounts.

Therefore, you shouldn't hesitate to add edamame to your diet.

Nutrition Facts

Edamame Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 cup shelled pods (156 g)
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories 188 
Calories from Fat 72 
Total Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 1g  5%
Polyunsaturated Fat 3.4g 
Monounsaturated Fat 2g 
Cholesterol 0mg  0%
Sodium 9.4mg  0%
Potassium 676mg 19%
Carbohydrates 13.8g  5%
Dietary Fiber 8g 32%
Sugars 3.4g 
Protein 18.4g 
Vitamin A 9.2% · Vitamin C 15.8%

Calcium 7.6% · Iron 19.6% · 

*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Carbs in Edamame

Edamame, a legume, is lower in carbohydrates than many other legumes. One cup of shelled, steamed edamame contains almost 14 grams of carbs. That's compared to 40 grams of carbs for a cup of cooked lentils or kidney beans, and 45 grams of carbs for a cup of boiled garbanzo beans.

In fact, edamame can be recommended for people with diabetes because it's very low in sugar (just 3.4 grams per cooked cup of shelled beans).

In addition, people following a low-carb diet can eat edamame because it's so low in carbs, especially when compared to other beans.

Edamame also shines when it comes to fiber—one cup of shelled and cooked edamame offers 8 grams of fiber or about one-third of the recommended daily fiber allotment.

Fats in Edamame

One cup of cooked edamame contains 8 grams of fat, which is considered low-fat. Of that, only 1 gram is saturated fat (you should limit your intake of saturated fats to no more than about 12 grams per day).

Most of the rest of edamame's fat content comes from "good" monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. One cup of steamed, shelled edamame contains about 3.4 grams of polyunsaturated fat, mainly in the form of omega-6 essential fatty acid. Edamame also contains a small amount of omega-3 fatty acid, another polyunsaturated fat. Polyunsaturated fats may help you reduce your so-called "bad" LDL cholesterol, which may then lead to a reduction in your risk of heart disease.

That same one cup of edamame contains about 2 grams of monounsaturated fat, which, alongside polyunsaturated fat, also may help you reduce your LDL cholesterol levels. Some research shows that monounsaturated fats also may help people with diabetes control their blood sugar better.

Protein in Edamame

Edamame is a protein powerhouse: a cup of boiled, shelled edamame pods contains around 18.4  grams of protein. In addition, soy protein is a high-quality protein, similar to animal protein in that it contains all nine of the essential amino acids.

This is the reason people who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet often eat plenty of soy, including edamame.

In addition, about one-third of the calories in edamame come from protein, with an additional one-third coming from carbs and the last third coming from fats. That makes edamame a well-balanced food to include in your diet.

Micronutrients in Edamame

Edamame features plenty of micronutrients, especially magnesium and vitamin C. One cup of cooked, shelled edamame contains:

  • 19 percent of your daily iron requirement
  • 15 percent of your daily vitamin C needs
  • 7 percent of the calcium you need daily

In addition, edamame offers almost 20 percent of your daily potassium needs, plus trace amounts of copper, zinc, phosphorus, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin K.

You can't equate edamame's nutritional profile to the nutrients found in regular soybeans, soy flour, or tofu. That's because edamame is harvested as young soybeans, not mature soybeans, and it has different amounts of micronutrients than the mature soybeans used to make tofu and soy protein. Edamame has significantly more vitamin K, manganese, and folate than mature soybeans, but contains less iron and copper.

Also, the vitamins and minerals contained in edamame may vary based on where the plants are grown.

Finally, edamame has very high levels of soy isoflavones, which are compounds found in many plants. Isoflavones often are referred to as "natural estrogens" because they can behave like the female hormone estrogen in your body. They also may help you lower your risk for some chronic diseases. Edamame and other soy products include three main isoflavones: genistein, daidzein, and glycitein.

Steamed edamame contains around 28 milligrams per cup in total of isoflavones, which is 20 percent more phytoestrogen than cooked mature soybeans. Still, edamame contains significantly less phytoestrogen than mature, sprouted soybean seeds, which have upwards of 53 milligrams of isoflavones per cup, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Health Benefits

Edamame, as a good source of soy protein, may help you reduce your risk for several health conditions, including high cholesterol and high blood pressure. The evidence for positive health effects in other conditions, including bone health, breast cancer, and prostate cancer, is less clear.

High Cholesterol

Foods containing 25 grams of soy protein or more may reduce your cholesterol, according to the United States Food and Drug Administration. To reach this level, you'll have to eat about a cup and a half of cooked, shelled edamame per day. This amount may lower your so-called "bad" LDL cholesterol by about 5 percent or 6 percent—a modest benefit, but every little bit helps.

A cup and a half of edamame is a lot to eat in a day, but there are plenty of ways to add edamame to your diet. For example, try this crispy baked edamame recipe as a snack to munch on between meals or when you're watching a game.

Blood Pressure

There's some medical evidence that diets high in protein may lower your blood pressure, and soy protein, in particular, seems to help. Researchers studying the various effects of soy protein on the body have found that it seems to reduce both systolic and hyperstolic blood pressure numbers (the top and bottom numbers in your blood pressure reading). 

The blood pressure reductions from a high soy protein intake seem to be small, but as with high cholesterol, every little bit helps. Researchers point out that lowering your systolic blood pressure reading by just a few points may reduce your stroke risk by up to 14 percent and your coronary heart disease risk by up to 9 percent.

However, studies haven't uncovered how this works, and more research is needed before doctors can say definitively that edamame and other soy products can lower your blood pressure. In addition, none of the studies looked specifically at edamame, although they did look at soy products that contain the same compounds, such as isoflavones.

Bone Health and Osteoporosis

You need to build strong bones to guard against fractures and to keep you mobile. This is especially important as you age—your risk increases for an osteoporosis-related fracture as you get older. 

A diet very high in soy protein, including the types of soy protein found in edamame, is associated with good markers of bone health in some medical research.

"Although optimal amounts and types of soy foods needed to support bone health are not yet clear, dietary pattern evidence suggests that regular consumption of soy foods is likely to be useful for optimal bone health as an integral part of a dietary pattern that is built largely from whole plant foods," concludes one study that looked specifically at whether soy foods can help improve bone health.

However, researchers have not found a cause-and-effect relationship between bone health and higher intakes of soy protein, and they haven't looked specifically at edamame's effects on bone health and osteoporosis. So you shouldn't solely rely on eating edamame to keep your bones strong; make sure to get plenty of calcium and to work out, especially with weight-bearing exercises. 

Symptoms of Menopause

Japanese women seem to suffer from fewer menopausal symptoms—specifically hot flashes—than women in the United States and in other countries. A higher soy intake, which includes a substantial amount of estrogen-like isoflavones, may be one reason for this. Therefore, researchers have explored whether soy protein can help with hot flashes. 

Although results from various studies have been inconsistent, a large analysis of the research done on this topic indicates that soy isoflavone supplements can help to reduce hot flashes in women around the time of menopause. However, these studies weren't conducted with edamame; instead, they used isoflavones extracted from soybeans.

Therefore, you can't assume that eating edamame with help you with hot flashes.

Cancer

People who live in countries (specifically in Asia) where soy intake is high have lower rates of breast cancer and prostate cancer, medical studies show. In addition, when you compare only people in those countries, those who have a higher soy intake seem to have lower rates of breast and prostate cancer.

However, you can't just assume you can eat lots of edamame and other soy products and reduce your cancer risk. For women, especially, it appears important for the high soy consumption to occur early in life; high intake during adulthood doesn't produce as beneficial of an effect.

Lots of research is ongoing, but the studies to date show that consuming plenty of edamame in adulthood may not significantly help in avoiding breast or prostate cancer.

Common Questions

Can eating edamame hurt my thyroid function?

Your thyroid is a gland in your neck that regulates your body's energy production and usage. People with low thyroid function often feel tired and cold, and they may gain weight easily. Soy is a goitrogen, which is a compound that interferes with thyroid hormone production.

Therefore, some people question whether it's okay to eat soy products, including edamame, if you've been diagnosed with low thyroid. Fortunately, doctors say it's not necessary for most people with low thyroid to avoid edamame and other soy foods. 

Can I have edamame if I have breast cancer?

Since soy protein can mimic a weak estrogen in the body, women who have breast cancer may express concern about eating soy products. The question is complicated because soy protein consumption is associated with a lower risk of breast cancer in certain populations.

The American Cancer Society states that eating soy-based foods, including edamame, doesn't seem to pose a risk for women who have breast cancer. Although, the statement also expresses that the evidence on isoflavone supplements is less clear. Therefore, women who have breast cancer don't need to pass up a bowl of edamame.

Will eating edamame harm my fertility?

There's no evidence that adding edamame to a healthy diet can harm fertility for men or women. Some studies have shown that women who eat high quantities of soy foods experience slightly longer menstrual cycles, possibly because of the estrogen-like compounds in soy, but no decrease in fertility. Also, research indicates that eating soy foods such as edamame doesn't harm men's fertility. This isn't something you need to actively worry about.

Recipes and Preparation Tips

To cook edamame, you simply need to steam it for five to 10 minutes, either on the stovetop or in the microwave. It's generally steamed in its pods (which contain one to four beans each), but you also can steam the shelled beans without the pods. Traditionally, it's served in the pods and sprinkled with sea salt.

Of course, there are plenty of ways to enjoy edamame beyond simply steaming it.

Allergies and Interactions

Edamame is another name for young soybeans, so anyone who is allergic to soy should also avoid edamame and any dishes made with edamame. Symptoms of soy allergy include itching and facial swelling, along with difficulty breathing in severe cases. If you experience any of those symptoms after eating edamame, seek immediate medical care.

Pure soy products, including edamame, are gluten-free. Therefore, you should be able to have edamame if you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. However, you always need to be careful to avoid gluten cross-contamination with soy products.

Finally, some people experience flatulence and bloating when they eat edamame, especially if the edamame hasn't been thoroughly cooked. If you find you have this problem, try cooking your bean pods for longer next time, and perhaps eat fewer of them. 

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