Edamame is a tasty, nutritious legume and an excellent low calorie snack option. They’re rich in vitamins and minerals, and may offer additional health benefits such as lowering cholesterol and regulating blood sugar.

Bowl of salted edamameShare on Pinterest
Salted edamame bean pods. The beans inside the pods may be eaten but not the pods. Getty Images/Alex Walker

Soybeans are one of the world’s most popular and versatile food crops.

They are processed into a variety of food products, such as:

Soybeans are also eaten whole, including in the form of immature soybeans known as edamame. Traditionally eaten in Asia, edamame has gained popularity in Western countries, where it’s typically eaten as a snack.

This article reviews the science-based health benefits of edamame.

Edamame beans are whole, immature soybeans, sometimes referred to as vegetable-type soybeans. They are green and differ in color from regular soybeans, which are typically light brown, tan, or beige.

Edamame soybeansShare on Pinterest
Edamame beans. DigiPub/Getty Images

Calorie content

One cup (160 grams) of cooked edamame contains 224 calories. This accounts for roughly 7–11% of the recommended daily calorie intake for an adult, depending on age, sex, and activity level.

Where to buy

Edamame beans are often sold while still encased in their pods, which are not meant to be eaten. You can also buy shelled edamame, without the pods.

In the United States, most edamame is sold frozen. Generally, you can easily heat the beans by boiling, steaming, pan-frying, or microwaving them for a few minutes.

How to prepare

Traditionally, edamame is prepared with a pinch of salt and eaten alone as a snack, or added to soups, stews, salads, and noodle dishes.

Edamame is served in sushi bars and in many Chinese and Japanese restaurants. You can find it in most large supermarkets in the United States, typically in the frozen vegetable section. Most health food stores also carry it.

Are there any downsides to eating edamame?

Soy foods are controversial. Some people avoid eating soybeans regularly, partly because they may interfere with thyroid function. However, a 2019 study found that even very high doses of soy don’t seem to have a significant affect on thyroid function, but more research is needed.

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Rich in vitamins and minerals

Edamame contains high amounts of several vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber.

The table, sourced from FoodData Central, lists the main nutrients in one cup (160 grams) of cooked edamame.

Water (g)113
Protein37% of the Daily Value (DV)
Total lipid (g)12.1
Carbohydrates (g)13.8
Fiber (g)8
Sugars (g)3.38
Calcium10% of the DV
Iron20% of the DV
Magnesium25% of the DV
Phosphorus37% of the DV
Potassium20% of the DV
Folate115% of the DV
Vitamin K138% or 50% of (women’s or men’s) DV
Thiamine25% or 50% of (women’s or men’s) DV
Riboflavin19% or 22% of (women’s or men’s) DV
Copper59% of the DV

Edamame contains significantly more vitamin K and folate than mature soybeans.

In fact, if you eat a whole cup (160 grams), you will get around 38% of the men’s daily intake or 50% of the women’s daily intake for vitamin K and more than 100% for folate.


Edamame is rich in several vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin K and folate.

May lower cholesterol

A 2021 study has linked abnormally high levels of cholesterol with an increased risk of heart disease.

A 2019 meta-analysis concluded that people who ate an average of 25 grams of soy protein per day had a reduction in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol by approximately 3% to 4%.

In addition to being a decent source of soy protein, edamame is rich in healthy fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin K.

These plant compounds may reduce the risk of heart disease and improve the blood lipid profile, a measure of fats including cholesterol and triglycerides.


Edamame is rich in protein, antioxidants, and fiber that may lower circulating cholesterol levels. Edamame plant compounds may also reduce the risk of heart disease.

May promote healthy blood sugar regulation

Those who eat lots of easily digested carbs, such as sugar, on a regular basis may be at an increased risk of chronic disease.

This is because a diet high in rapidly digested carbohydrates leads to high post-meal blood sugar levels and poor blood sugar regulation, which could increase the risk of developing health conditions like type 2 diabetes.

Like other beans, edamame does not excessively raise blood sugar levels.

It’s low in carbs, relative to protein and fat. It also measures very low on the glycemic index, a measure of the extent to which foods raise blood sugar levels.

This makes edamame suitable for people with diabetes.


Edamame is low on the glycemic index, so it’s suitable for people with type 2 diabetes.

High in protein

Getting enough protein is crucial for optimal health.

Vegans and those who rarely eat high protein animal foods may need to pay special attention to what they eat on a daily basis.

One concern is the relatively low protein content of many plant foods. However, there are a few exceptions.

For instance, beans are among the best plant-based protein sources. In fact, they are the cornerstone of many vegan and vegetarian diets.

A cup (160 grams) of cooked edamame provides around 18.5 grams of protein, according to FoodData Central.

Additionally, soybeans are a whole protein source. Unlike most plant proteins, they provide all the essential amino acids your body needs.


Edamame contains around 18.5 grams of protein, which is a decent amount for a plant food. It’s also a quality protein source, providing all the essential amino acids.

May reduce the risk of breast cancer in some populations

Soybeans are high in plant compounds known as isoflavones.

Isoflavones resemble the sex hormone estrogen and may bind weakly to its receptors, which are located on cells throughout the body.

Since estrogen is thought to promote certain types of cancer, such as breast cancer, some researchers believe consuming large amounts of soybeans and isoflavones may be risky.

A 2016 study found an association between a high intake of soy products or isoflavones and a potentially increased risk of breast cancer.

However, similar research focusing on Asian populations — including this 2017 study and this 2016 study — suggest that a high intake of soybeans and soy products may slightly reduce the risk of breast cancer.

A 2019 study found that increased doses of 10 mg of soy isoflavone daily were associated with a 3% reduced risk of breast cancer.

Researchers in this 2017 study found that a high intake of isoflavone-rich foods early in life may protect against breast cancer later in life.

More long-term controlled studies in various populations are needed before any solid conclusions can be reached.


Observational studies suggest that soy-based foods like edamame may reduce the risk of breast cancer, but not all studies agree.

May reduce menopausal symptoms

Menopause is the stage in a person’s life when menstruation ends.

This natural process is often associated with symptoms that may be challenging, such as hot flashes, mood swings, and weight gain.

A 2021 study and a 2019 meta-analysis found that that soybeans and isoflavones may slightly reduce these symptoms during menopause.

However, not all women are affected by isoflavones and soy products in this way. To experience these benefits, a 2019 study found that women need to have the right types of gut bacteria.

Certain types of bacteria are able to convert isoflavones into equol, a compound believed to be responsible for many of the health benefits of soybeans. People with these specific kinds of gut bacteria are called “equol producers.”

Equol producers are significantly more common among Asian populations than Western ones.

This could possibly explain why Asian women are less likely to experience symptoms related to menopause, compared with women in Western countries. The high consumption of soybeans and soy products in Asian diets might play a role.

Nevertheless, the evidence is not entirely consistent. Research studies have been unable to detect any significant or clinically relevant effects of soy products on menopausal symptoms.

Yet, these studies did not distinguish between participants who were equol producers and those who were not, which may explain their lack of significant findings.


Several studies suggest that eating soy foods may reduce menopausal symptoms. However, the evidence is inconsistent.

May reduce the risk of prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer in men. According to the CDC, about 13 in every 100 men in the United States will develop prostate cancer at some point in their life.

Studies indicate that soy foods, such as edamame, don’t just benefit women. They might also protect against cancer in men.

Several studies — including this 2018 meta-analysis and this 2019 study — show that soy products are associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer.

Still, more research is needed before strong conclusions can be drawn.


Evidence suggests that eating soy products may protect against prostate cancer, but more studies are needed.

Might reduce bone loss

Osteoporosis, or bone loss, is a condition marked by brittle and fragile bones that are at an increased risk of breaking. It is especially common in older people.

A few studies — including this study from 2021 and this meta-analysis from 2021 — found that regularly consuming soy protein products and high dose soy supplements, which are rich in isoflavones, may lower the risk of osteoporosis in both menopausal and postmenopausal women.

Like other soy products, edamame is rich in isoflavones. Yet, it’s unclear as to what extent it affects bone health.


Isoflavones may protect against bone loss in middle-aged and older women. Although edamame contains isoflavones, the effects of whole foods do not necessarily reflect the benefits of isolated components.

Edamame is a tasty, nutritious legume that makes an excellent low calorie, high-fiber snack option. It may also offer several health benefits, such as lowering cholesterol or regulating blood sugar.

However, much of the research on the benefits of edamame is based on isolated soy components, and it’s often unclear if whole soy foods, like edamame, have similar benefits.

While the evidence is encouraging, more studies are needed before researchers can reach definite conclusions about the health benefits of edamame.