Edamame are young soybeans harvested before they ripen or harden. Available shelled, in the pod, fresh, or frozen, they are a popular, plant-based food that may be good for a person’s health.

Edamame beans are naturally gluten-free and low in calories. They contain no cholesterol and provide protein, iron, and calcium.

Read on to find out more about the health benefits of edamame and how to add it to a diet.

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The table below shows the nutrients one cup of shelled edamame provides and how much of these nutrients an adult needs per day for comparison.

Some requirements vary according to a person’s age and sex.

NutrientAmount in a 160-gram (g) cup of cooked edamame beansRecommended daily intake (adult)
energy (calories)2242,000–3,000, depending on age, sex, and activity level
protein (g)18.446–56
carbohydrate (g)13.8 of which 3.38 is sugar130
fiber (g)828–34
iron (mg)3.528–18
calcium (mg)97.61,000–1,300
magnesium (mg)99.2130–420
phosphorus (mg)262700–1,250
potassium (mg)6752,600–3,400
zinc (mg)2.135–11
selenium (mcg)1.28no data
vitamin C (mg)8.4875–90
folate (mcg)458200–400
choline (mg)87.5250–550
vitamin A, RAE (mcg)40400–900
beta carotene (mcg)278No data
vitamin K (mcg)45.160–120
lutein + zeaxanthin (mcg)2,510No data

Edamame also contains small amounts of vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin B6.

One cup of hulled edamame beans provides an adult with the following:

  • almost 10% of their daily calcium
  • more than 10% of their daily vitamin C
  • around 20% of their daily iron
  • at least 34% of their daily vitamin K
  • at least 120% of their daily folate
  • at least 33% of their daily protein

Edamame also contains:

  • Complete protein: As with meat and dairy products, it provides all the essential amino acids that people need and that the body cannot produce itself.
  • Polyunsaturated fats: It provides omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid.
  • Isoflavones: This type of antioxidant may help lower the risk of cancer and

People who eat only plant-based foods may benefit from adding supplements to their diet. Find out more.

People can buy edamame fresh in the pod, shelled, or frozen. When buying frozen edamame, they should make sure there are no additives in the ingredients, only edamame.

Most edamame in the U.S. comes from Asia, but U.S. producers are now developing genetically modified versions suitable to local growing conditions, to meet the increasing demands of the U.S. market.

Serving tips

Edamame has a mild, buttery flavor that pairs well with many dishes.

Tips for preparing and serving edamame include:

  • adding it to soups, stews, salads, rice dishes, or casseroles
  • boiling for 5–10 minutes, allowing to cool, and eating from the pod, sprinkled with sea salt
  • serving as a side in place of peas

Edamame recipes

Here are two recipes to try:

A cup of boiled edamame containing 160 g of beans will provide 224 kilocalories. However, roasting, coating, and other processing methods can increase the number of calories in a serving.

People should check the label to see how much a specific edamame product contains.

Researchers have linked the consumption of soy foods with a lower risk of various conditions and improvements in overall health.

1. Age-related brain diseases

Studies have suggested that consuming soy isoflavones may lower the risk of cognitive decline.

Past investigations have found that treatment with soy isoflavones might help improve aspects of thinking and cognition, such as nonverbal memory and verbal fluency.

One 2015 study involving 65 people with Alzheimer’s disease did not confirm these findings.

However, a 2015 review concluded that soy isoflavones might help improve cognitive function after menopause. The authors suggested following up with the participants in the trials to look at rates of Alzheimer’s later in life.

2. Cardiovascular disease

Some scientists have found evidence that soy protein has properties that can lower the low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol levels, in a person’s blood.

Authors of a study from 2017 suggest that soy may also benefit cardiovascular health through its fiber content, antioxidant content, and other mechanisms.

People may also find that consuming soy products as an alternative to full-fat dairy products helps improve their cholesterol levels.

Most plant-based fats are unsaturated, whereas animal fats tend to be saturated. Consuming saturated fats can contribute to heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.

3. Breast and prostate cancer

There has been controversy about the effect soy may have on the risk of breast cancer.

Some of the isoflavones in soy, known as phytoestrogens, appear to act similarly to estrogen. High estrogen levels may increase the risk of specific breast cancers.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), evidence does not suggest that soy products increase the risk of breast or other types of cancer. The ACS concludes that the benefits of consuming soy probably outweigh any risks.

A 2018 review found that consuming soy products may significantly lower the risk of prostate cancer in males and a 2020 review suggests they may offer protection from breast cancer, too.

4. Depression

Edamame contains folate, which the body needs to produce DNA and for appropriate cell division.

Some research has linked low folate levels to depression. Folate may help reduce the risk of depression by stopping too much of a substance called homocysteine from forming in the body.

High levels of homocysteine can prevent blood and other nutrients from reaching the brain, and they can interfere with the production of the “feel-good” hormone serotonin. This hormone helps mood, sleep, and appetite.

5. Diabetes

People with type 2 diabetes may benefit from consuming unsweetened soy products, such as edamame, according to an older 2012 study.

These scientists looked at data for 43,176 people over 5.7 years. They found lower rates of type 2 diabetes among those who consumed unsweetened soy products, while those eating the sweetened versions had a higher risk of developing the disease.

A 2018 review of eight observational studies also concluded that consuming soy products may help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Read more here about which foods are good for people with diabetes.

6. Fertility

Some people have suggested that consuming more iron and protein from plant sources such as edamame, spinach, beans, pumpkin, tomatoes, and beets may promote fertility or lower the risk of ovulatory disorders.

Edamame is a good source of iron, folate, and plant-based protein.

A mini-review from 2018 notes an apparent link between fertility and a high intake of folic acid, polyunsaturated fats, and plant-based foods. The authors call for increased awareness of the impact of a balanced diet on fertility issues.

Learn more about fertility supplements here.

7. Energy levels

Lack of iron in the diet can affect how the body uses energy and lead to iron deficiency anemia.

Edamame is an excellent nonheme source of iron, along with lentils, spinach, and dried fruit.

Find out more about iron deficiency anemia.

8. Inflammation

A 2012 study found that, among 1,005 Chinese women, those who consumed more soy products had lower levels of inflammatory markers in their blood than those who did not.

In 2017, a rodent study suggested choline may help protect against the inflammation that leads to cardiovascular disease.

Edamame contains choline, a nutrient similar to the B vitamins. It contributes to healthy sleep, muscle movement, learning, and memory.

These findings do not confirm that eating choline from edamame will have these benefits, but it might offer some protection. Conversely, a deficiency of choline may increase the risk of muscle and liver damage.

A cup of hulled edamame beans would provide around 16% of a person’s daily requirement for choline.

9. Menopause-related problems

The estrogen-like action of isoflavones in soy may help relieve the impact of two aspects of menopause. A 2016 review concludes that soy isoflavones may slow bone loss and improve bone strength.

In a 2017 study, women who received soy isoflavone treatment for 12 weeks reported fewer symptoms of menopause, including fatigue, hot flashes, depression, and irritability, than those who did not.

Most studies have looked at the impact of isoflavones in isolation rather than in food containing soy. It is not clear whether a regular dietary intake has a similar impact.

Learn more about the health risks and benefits of soy.

Some past studies have linked a high soy intake with a greater risk of breast cancer. However, a review published in 2020 found no evidence that a moderate intake of soy increases the risk. Instead, the authors concluded that higher amounts of soy in the diet might offer some protection from breast cancer.

Soy is a common allergen in infants and children and can trigger symptoms in those with eosinophilic esophagitis, an allergic inflammatory disease of the esophagus.

Anyone who experiences symptoms of an allergic reaction should stop eating edamame. If swelling, hives, and breathing difficulties occur, the individual will need urgent medical attention. These symptoms may be a sign of anaphylaxis, a potentially life threatening condition.

Here, find out how to recognize anaphylaxis and what to do if it happens.

Is edamame the same as soybeans?

Edamame are young soybeans, harvested before they ripen or harden. People often eat them steamed or boiled in their green shell.

Is edamame keto-friendly?

Edamame is a relatively low-carb food. A 160-g cup of edamame provides 13.8 g of carbs. People who follow a ketogenic diet typically follow a diet that contains 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbs, but how they do this will depend on which version of the keto diet they follow.

A person on a keto diet may wish to consider how much carbohydrate their serving of edamame contains and how it fits in with their diet. If a dietitian has recommended the diet, a person may want to ask their advice.

Adding spices or coatings can also affect the nutritional content of edamame.

What can you eat on a keto diet? See a sample meal plan here.

Edamame vs. mukimame

Mukimame is another name for edamame. They are the same thing.

Is edamame a legume?

Edamame is a bean and therefore a legume. However, legumes vary in their nutritional profile. Compared with pulses, such as lentils, edamame provides a similar amount of protein per 100 calories, but edamame have a higher fat and lower fiber content. The method of cooking or preparation will also affect the nutritional content.

Lima beans vs. edamame

Lima beans, sometimes called butter beans in the U.S., are native to South America. Edamame comes from Asia and features in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean cuisine. Lima beans are often light or spotted in color, while edamame are bright green.

They contain similar nutrients but in different amounts. For example:

NutrientsLima beans (100 g)Edamame (100 g)
protein6.05 g11.5 g
fat0.34 g7.57 g
carbohydrates19.3 g8.63 g
fiber5.3 g5 g
energy103 kcal140 kcal

Learn about the health benefits of various types of beans.

Is edamame gluten-free?

Edamame is naturally gluten-free, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation, but people should check the other ingredients used during preparation or processing.

Is edamame low FODMAP?

People with inflammatory bowel disease may benefit from a low FODMAP diet, which limits the intake of fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols.

Some soy products, such as tofu, are suitable for people following this type of diet, but edamame may not be appropriate, according to a 2017 study.

Can you eat edamame while pregnant?

In the past, concerns have arisen about whether foods containing soy isoflavones pose a risk during pregnancy. However, these concerns mainly arose from research in animals, and human studies have not confirmed that consuming soy products can affect fetal health and development.

In fact, consuming edamame during pregnancy can help boost folic acid levels. Folic acid, also called vitamin B9, is essential to the health of the developing fetus. Many people take folic acid supplements at this time.

Anyone who has concerns about consuming edamame during their pregnancy should check with a doctor, especially if they are considering increasing their intake while using supplements.

As with other foods, it is essential to follow safety guidelines and cook edamame sufficiently before eating.

Learn more about food to eat and avoid during pregnancy.

Edamame, similar to other soy products, contains many essential nutrients. It can be a healthy addition to a person’s diet and an alternative to sweetened and processed snacks.