HomeHealthIs Edamame Good for Weight Loss? Benefits & Risks

Is Edamame Good for Weight Loss? Benefits & Risks

Edamame, also known as young soybeans, packs a powerful nutritional punch that can support your weight loss journey. Did you know that these vibrant green pods are a great source of plant-based protein and fiber? In fact, just half a cup of edamame provides around 9 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber, making it a satisfying and nutritious addition to your diet.

So, how is edamame good for weight loss? In this blog, we will explore the various ways edamame can contribute to weight loss and also some risks involved. Get ready to discover the potential of edamame in achieving your weight loss goals!

1. Is Edamame Good For Weight Loss?

Certainly, edamame can be a great addition to your weight loss journey. These little soybeans offer some real benefits when it comes to helping you shed those extra pounds and improve your overall health.

One of the main reasons edamame is good for weight loss is because it’s high in protein and fiber. These are the things that help keep you feeling full and satisfied, so you’re less likely to overeat and take in too many calories. Protein, especially, is known for making you feel full, which means you’re less likely to snack on unhealthy stuff throughout the day.

But edamame has more going for it than just filling you up. Some research published in the journal Nutrients has shown that soybeans like edamame can be good for your heart health. They can help reduce inflammation, which is a common problem when you’re overweight. Lowering inflammation not only makes you healthier overall but also supports your weight loss efforts by potentially preventing more weight gain caused by chronic inflammation.

Another thing that makes edamame a good choice for weight loss is that it’s a plant-based source of protein. Unlike proteins from animals, plant-based proteins like edamame usually don’t have the unhealthy saturated fats. This is important because too much saturated fat can raise your cholesterol levels, which can slow down your weight loss and put your heart health at risk.

Is Edamame Good For Weight Loss?
Is Edamame Good For Weight Loss?

Here’s a handy tip: Think about swapping out some of the animal-based proteins in your diet with plant-based options like edamame. Doing this can not only help you lose weight but also make your heart healthier. A study in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that eating more plant-based protein can lower your LDL (low-density lipoproteins) or “bad” cholesterol levels. Since being overweight is one of the things that can lead to high cholesterol, losing weight by eating edamame can also help bring down your overall cholesterol numbers.

2. Edamame Nutrition Facts

Let’s break down the nutrition facts for edamame to understand why it’s a fantastic addition to your diet:

Calories: In a one-cup (155g) serving of shelled edamame pods, you’ll find approximately 188 calories. These calories are fairly balanced, with about 37% coming from protein, 36% from fat, and 27% from carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates: Edamame is relatively low in carbohydrates compared to many other legumes. One cup of steamed edamame contains nearly 14 grams of carbs, which is notably lower than the 40 grams in a cup of cooked lentils or kidney beans and the 45 grams in a cup of boiled garbanzo beans. This makes edamame a diabetes-friendly option, with just 3.4 grams of sugar per cooked cup of shelled beans. Its high fiber and protein content also help slow down the absorption of glucose into your bloodstream, preventing sugar spikes. For those on a low-carb diet, edamame is an excellent choice due to its low carbohydrate content, especially when compared to other legumes

Fats: A one-cup serving of cooked edamame contains 8 grams of fat, which is considered low-fat. Out of this, only 1 gram is saturated fat – you should aim to limit your saturated fat intake to around 12 grams per day. The majority of edamame’s fat content comes from “good” monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. You’ll find approximately 3.4 grams of polyunsaturated fat in one cup of steamed, shelled edamame, primarily in the form of omega-6 essential fatty acids. Edamame also contains a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids, another type of polyunsaturated fat. These fats may help reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol, especially when they replace saturated or trans fats in your diet, potentially lowering your risk of heart disease.

Edamame Nutrition Facts
Edamame Nutrition Facts

Protein: Edamame is a protein powerhouse, boasting around 18.4 grams of protein in a cup of boiled, shelled edamame pods. Soy protein, found in edamame, is considered high-quality, akin to animal protein, as it contains all nine essential amino acids. This is why individuals following vegetarian or vegan diets often incorporate soy-based foods, like edamame, into their meals. Approximately one-third of edamame’s calories come from protein, making it a well-balanced food choice for your diet.

Vitamins and Minerals: Edamame is rich in micronutrients, especially magnesium and vitamin C. A one-cup serving of cooked, shelled edamame provides you with:

  • 20% of your daily iron requirement
  • 11% of your daily vitamin C needs
  • 8% of your daily calcium intake
  • Nearly 14% of your daily potassium needs
  • Trace amounts of copper, zinc, phosphorus, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin K

Please note that the nutritional content of edamame differs from regular soybeans, soy flour, or tofu. Edamame is harvested when soybeans are young, not mature, resulting in different micronutrient levels. While edamame contains more vitamin K, manganese, and folate compared to mature soybeans, it has less iron and copper. The specific vitamin and mineral content in edamame can also vary depending on where the plants are grown.

Lastly, edamame is known for its high levels of soy isoflavones, compounds found in many plants. These isoflavones, often referred to as “natural estrogens,” may have protective effects against hormone-dependent cancers, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and menopause symptoms. Edamame contains three primary isoflavones: genistein, daidzein, and glycitein. Steamed edamame provides approximately 28 milligrams of isoflavones per cup, which is 20% more phytoestrogen than cooked mature soybeans. However, it still contains less phytoestrogen than mature, sprouted soybean seeds, which have over 53 milligrams of isoflavones per cup, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

3. Other Health Benefits of Edamame

Edamame, often enjoyed as a delicious appetizer or snack, offers a range of health benefits that go beyond its great taste:

  • Promotes Cardiovascular Health: Edamame is a rich source of soy protein, known for its heart-healthy properties. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that replacing animal protein with soy protein can improve lipid levels in the blood, reducing the risk of heart disease. Additionally, edamame is high in fiber, which can help lower cholesterol levels and prevent the buildup of fatty plaque in the arteries.
Promotes Cardiovascular Health
Promotes Cardiovascular Health
  • Associated with Reduced Cancer Risk: Research indicates that soy products like edamame may have a protective effect against certain types of cancer. Studies suggest that soy consumption might be linked to a decreased risk of prostate cancer in men. Moreover, some research hints at a lower risk of breast cancer associated with higher soy intake, although further studies are necessary.
Associated with Reduced Cancer Risk
Associated with Reduced Cancer Risk
  • Excellent Protein Source: Edamame boasts an impressive plant-based protein content, with a single serving providing around 17 grams of protein. This places it on par with other protein-rich foods like poultry, fish, and eggs. Protein is vital for overall health, contributing to tissue repair, muscle growth, and immune function. Consuming high-protein foods can also help you feel full for longer, aiding in weight loss efforts.
  • Strengthens Bones: Edamame is rich in soy isoflavones, compounds associated with various health benefits. Some studies suggest that soy isoflavones can positively impact bone metabolism and increase bone mineral density. For instance, research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that soy isoflavones were effective in promoting bone formation and preventing bone loss in menopausal women.
  • Alleviates Menopausal Symptoms: The soy isoflavones in edamame act as phytoestrogens, mimicking the effects of estrogen in the body. This makes them potentially beneficial for women experiencing menopause, which involves a natural decline in hormone levels. A study from Sweden reported that daily intake of 60 milligrams of isoflavones over 12 weeks reduced menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats by 57% and 43%, respectively.
  • Stabilizes Blood Sugar Levels: Edamame, like other legumes, is an excellent choice for maintaining steady blood sugar levels. It has a low glycemic index, indicating that it has a minimal impact on blood sugar when consumed. Furthermore, its high fiber content slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, supporting better glycemic control. A study showed that administering soy isoflavones to postmenopausal women led to significant reductions in both blood sugar levels and insulin over a six-month period.
Stabilizes Blood Sugar Levels
Stabilizes Blood Sugar Levels

4. Side Effects or Health Risks of Edamame

While edamame offers numerous health benefits, it’s essential to be aware of potential side effects and health considerations:

  • Allergies: Edamame is a soy-based product, and individuals with soy allergies should avoid it. Soy allergies can lead to allergic reactions, ranging from mild symptoms like hives and digestive discomfort to severe reactions such as anaphylaxis. If you have a soy allergy, steer clear of edamame and any soy-containing products.
  • Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs): In the United States, a significant portion of soybeans, including those used for edamame, are genetically engineered (GMOs). Concerns have been raised about the long-term health effects, antibiotic resistance, and food allergies associated with GMOs. To minimize exposure to GMO foods, consider choosing organic varieties of edamame whenever possible. Organic products are less likely to be genetically modified.
  • Antinutrients: Soybeans, including edamame, contain antinutrients—compounds that can hinder the absorption of certain minerals in the body, such as calcium, iron, and zinc. However, various preparation methods, such as soaking, sprouting, fermenting, and cooking, can significantly reduce the levels of antinutrients in soy-based products like edamame. Cooking edamame thoroughly before consumption is recommended.
  • Goitrogens: Soy also contains goitrogens, compounds that may interfere with thyroid function by blocking the absorption of iodine. Research suggests that the consumption of soy products is generally unlikely to affect thyroid function in healthy adults, unless there is an existing iodine deficiency. If you have thyroid concerns or are on thyroid medication, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance on soy consumption.
  • Carb Content: While edamame is relatively low in carbohydrates and high in fiber, individuals following a ketogenic (keto) or low-carb diet should be mindful of their intake to ensure they stay within their carbohydrate limits. Edamame can be included in moderation in such diets, but portion control is key to managing carb consumption effectively.

5. Frequency of Edamame Consumption

Here’s a guideline on how often you can include edamame in your meals:

  • Regular Snacking: You can enjoy edamame as a snack between meals whenever you feel hungry. A 1/2 cup serving provides a satisfying combination of protein and fiber, helping you stay full and curb cravings. Consider having it as an afternoon snack or a pre-dinner appetizer.
  • Meal Additions: Edamame can be a valuable addition to your main meals. Include it in salads, stir-fries, or alongside your favorite protein source for added nutrition. Aim to have it in at least one meal per day, depending on your dietary preferences.
  • Variety: While edamame is a nutritious choice, it’s essential to maintain a balanced diet by incorporating a variety of foods. Don’t rely solely on edamame for all your protein and fiber needs. Mix it up with other vegetables, legumes, lean proteins, and whole grains to ensure a well-rounded diet.
  • Portion Control: Keep in mind that portion control is crucial, especially if you are closely monitoring your calorie intake. Stick to the recommended serving size of about 1/2 cup, as it provides the right balance of nutrients without overloading you with excess calories.
  • Calorie-Controlled Diet: If you are following a calorie-controlled diet for weight loss, edamame can fit seamlessly into your meal plan. Its low-calorie content (95 calories per 1/2 cup) makes it an excellent choice for managing your daily calorie intake while still enjoying a nutritious snack or side dish.
  • Consult a Nutritionist: For personalized guidance on the frequency and portion sizes of edamame in your diet, it’s advisable to consult with a registered dietitian or nutritionist. They can assess your specific dietary needs, weight loss goals, and overall health to create a tailored meal plan that incorporates edamame effectively.
Consult a Nutritionist
Consult a Nutritionist

6. Conclusion

In conclusion, edamame emerges as a nutritional champion in the quest for weight loss. With its low-calorie content, high protein and fiber, and numerous health benefits, it’s a delightful addition to your diet. Now that you’ve unraveled the question, “Is Edamame good for weight loss?” it’s time to embark on your own journey and share your success stories with us.

At Essential24, we’re dedicated to providing you with valuable insights into achieving a healthier, happier you. Check out more of our blogs, all tailored to help you on your path to wellness. Let’s continue this adventure together, one nutritious bite at a time.

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Jaime Miranda
Jaime Mirandahttps://definingbeauty.com.au/
As the head of the Sydney School of Public Health at the University of Sydney's Faculty of Medicine and Health, Professor Jaime Miranda is a distinguished figure in public health research. With a rich academic and professional background, he has become an influential voice in the epidemiology and health policy of chronic non-communicable diseases, especially in low- and middle-income countries.

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