Edamame, the immature soybeans which look similar to green peas in a pod are the new superfood that has been grabbing the attention of mindful eaters and those hopping on a weight loss journey, in recent times.
These immature soybeans that have been a staple in East Asia cuisine for thousands of years are prized for their high protein content. According to historians, the cultivation of edamame in China dates back to 7000 years and the mention of this versatile plant-based protein was first documented in a note written by Japanese monk Nichiren thanking a parishioner for sharing these pods with him in a temple in the year 1275.
In ancient China, during the rule of Ming dynasty, the leaves of soybeans and beans were like a famine food that kept Chinese satiated and healthy. The soybeans later made another comeback in 1620 and were given the name ‘maodou’ meaning ‘hairy bean’. Though Japanese and Chinese always believed in its medicinal properties, this protein-rich bean became popular in the western world, only in the late 18th century, after a farmer in the US complained about its complicated shelling process post-harvest. The goodness of edamame gained intense popularity following its mention in the book ‘The Soybean’ written by botanists C V Piper and Joseph M Morse in which they not only revealed how to consume these immature beans out of the shell pods but also wrote extensively about its nutritional qualities besides few recipes.
Well, this humble vegetable which remained a quintessential part of the American and Asian cuisines couldn’t find a place in European until very recently. Europeans got the taste of homegrown edamame only in 2008 after it was introduced in the supermarkets as an alternative source of protein. What’s more? The Western world gave it a slot in the Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster dictionary in 2003 and 2008, respectively.
(Inputs Source: Wikipedia)
Edamame also referred to as soybean, soyabean goes with the botanical name Glycine max. The word ‘soy’ is a mix of Cantonese and Japanese languages. However, the botanical name owes it to the presence of genus, Linnaeus – a root, latinizing the Greek word glykos, meaning sweet but has nothing to do with amino acid glycine.
Soybeans are grown on the plant with erect branches that reach more than 6.5 feet in height. The flowers that are white in colour with a shade of purple are self-fertilizing with seeds in yellow, green, brown, black colours, with each pod carrying one to four seeds. Edamame is harvested manually for avoiding the damage caused to stems and leaves. These immature green soybean pods are picked within 40 days after first flowers bloom. The soybeans harvested early are sweeter in taste due to the presence of sucrose and are rich in amino acids.
These young soybeans are a powerhouse of nutrition and are loaded with calcium, thiamine, riboflavin, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, copper, digestive fibre, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. One cup of cooked edamame, weighing approximately 160 grams offers just 224 calories besides ample amounts of protein.
Why Should You Eat Edamame?
Nutritionists strongly recommend including these immature soybeans to your daily diet for meeting these following nutritional requirements.
One cup of cooked edamame meets 10% of your daily requirement for calcium, vitamin C besides 33% of calcium, 120% of folate, 20% of iron, 34% of vitamin K.
Edamame or Soybeans in Ayurveda:
Ancient Ayurvedic texts do not have a mention about Soybean but the traditional practitioners too are not very fond of this protein-rich bean. While it is recommended for pacifying doshas associated with Vata, it should be avoided by those suffering from stomach problems.
Edamame according to Ayurvedic doctors is very hard to digest, given its high protein content.
Health Benefits of Edamame:
Though ancient Indian medicine doesn’t endorse edamame as a part of regular diet, nutritionists, doctors of today’s era swear by its goodness.
Rich in dietary fibre, antioxidants, vitamin K and other nutritional components, edamame plays a significant role in reducing Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol. Doctors recommend adding edamame or soybeans to regular diet for bringing down cholesterol levels by 3%, thus reducing the risk of sudden heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems.
Triggers Weight Loss:
If you are a vegetarian and on a weight loss journey, it’s time you bring edamame into your diet plan. Touted as a complete protein, these bright green pods provide you with all necessary amino acids besides keeping you satiated for longer hours, preventing midday hunger pangs.
Regulates Blood Sugar:
Low on carbs and high on protein, edamame is your yummy snack, to prevent sudden spike in the levels of blood sugar. The glycemic index of these is just 18, making it a most sought-after food item by the diabetics for keeping their blood sugar under control and to feel satiated for longer hours.
According to researchers, this antioxidant rich bean has certain properties that can prevent cancers related to breast and prostate. The presence of isoflavones, also known as phytoestrogens mimic estrogen hormone, thus bringing down post-menopausal side-effects. Various studies suggest that including soy-based products considerably decreases the risk of prostate cancer in men.
Improves Cognitive Functions:
Isoflavones, a type of antioxidant known for playing a pivotal role in preventing osteoporosis and improve brain functioning is found abundantly in edamame. These green soybeans not only aid in lowering the cognitive decline in the elderly but also prevent neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Is Edamame Same As Soybeans?
Yes. They are the same. Edamame are just young soybeans which are harvested early, within 40 days of flowering.
Are Edamame Legume?
Yes, they are beans hence legumes. Edamame match pulses, lentils in their protein content but offer more digestive fibre and higher good fat content.
Can Pregnant Women Eat Edamame?
There are no conclusive studies indicating that edamame is bad for pregnant women. However, if you are allergic to other soy products like tofu, soya chunks do not eat these pods. It is better to avoid these green soybeans if you are suffering from constipation.
How To Eat Edamame?
Fresh edamame is not available in India. The shelf-life of these tender green pods is just 10 hours, and it is generally available in frozen form. One can procure it from supermarkets.
Make sure to thaw it before adding it to your curries, stews, salads and soups.
Garlic Ginger Edamame:
2 cups frozen edamame
1 tsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ ginger pod, finely chopped
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp organic honey
Salt to taste
In a large pan, add salt and boil frozen edamame till tender
Drain the water and set it aside
In another pan, heat olive oil on low flame. Toss garlic and ginger. Fry for 1 minute
Remove it from the heat and stir in honey and soy sauce
Add boiled edamame, salt and give it a mix
Serve as a starter
Edamame or young soybeans are a powerhouse of various nutritional components including protein, calcium, iron, copper, magnesium besides impressive amounts of Vitamins B6, K, E and C. Garlic and ginger combination aid in purifying the blood, flushing out toxins and regulate digestion. The anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and antiseptic properties of honey boost immunity, improves cognitive function and provide body with various vitamins and minerals.
Eating this simple yet delicious dish as a starter keeps you satiated and helps to cut down on junk food.
1 cup frozen edamame
1 packet dumpling wrappers
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp soy sauce
1 ginger pod, cut thin
1 tsp black pepper
Salt to taste
Cook the edamame in boil water till tender
In a mixer, grind cooked edamame along with garlic, ginger, soy sauce, pepper powder, olive oil and salt into a smooth paste
Take a dumpling wrapper. Place ½ tsp edamame paste and apply water on the edges
Seal it tightly. Place all the dumplings on a steamer and steam it for 3 to 5 minutes
Serve hot with sauce
Edamame dumplings are steamed, not fried. Relish this guilt-free snack to enjoy the goodness of these tender soybeans that would aid in weight loss, improve digestion and to keep blood sugars under check.
Adding ginger, garlic, pepper powder to this dish makes it all the healthier. Black pepper powder not only adds intense flavour to this otherwise bland dish but also fills it with great antioxidant, antimicrobial properties.
Side Effects of Edamame:
Edamame is generally safe for consumption. However, if you are allergic to beans in general and to other soy-based products including soy sauce, tofu etc. avoid consuming edamame. Like in the case of all food items, exercise moderation. Excessive intake of edamame can cause constipation, stomach pain and diarrhea.
Edamame should never be consumed raw. They are very hard to chew, digest and can induce instant toxic properties. Properly cooked young soybeans can be eaten by pregnant women. However, talk to your doctor if they are right for you.
Edamame or immature soybeans are plant-based protein-rich food, native to East Asian countries. A staple in Chinese, Japanese cuisines for thousands of years, edamame is the favourite food of those on a weight loss journey. Available in the frozen form in most countries, due to its minimal shelf life, edamame should be thawed before cooking.
Various studies suggest that edamame prized with ample nutritional components including an array of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, edamame aid in losing weight, protecting heart health, keep blood sugars under check, prevent cancer and cognitive decline.
However, if you are allergic soy-based products, do not eat edamame.