What Exactly is Edamame?

What Exactly is Edamame?

The short answer: soybeans. There’s a little more to edamame than that, though. Here we’ll take you up close and personal with one of the best plant-based sources of protein we know.

A photo of edamame growing in a field

What’s Edamame?

You probably know edamame, and you may know that edamame are soybeans. But is edamame the exact same as regular soybeans? Yes and no.

Edamame and soybeans come from the same plant. They’re both legumes and the edible beans grow in long, fibrous, inedible pods.The difference is that edamame are immature soybeans, picked while they’re still young, while regular soybeans have been left on the plant to fully mature.

Raw edamame

What we call “edamame” are simply soybeans that have been harvested early. Their fibrous pods are still green and the inner beans are tender and soft. While you can steam and eat edamame as is, mature soybeans take a long time to cook (similar to other dried beans). Mature soybeans are also used to make foods like soy milk and tofu. Flavor-wise, edamame is slightly sweet (pea sweet, not berry sweet), while mature soybeans are a little more neutral-tasting.

Edamame Benefits

Edamame is a top source of plant-based protein, offering about 11 grams of protein per half cup serving—we’re talking half cup of edamame beans sans the pods.)

Edamame is unique among plant-based proteins for a couple reasons. For starters, 11 grams per half cup is a pretty hefty amount of protein compared with most plant foods and reigns supreme in the protein department against faves like black beans, chickpeas, and lentils. Plus, edamame is a complete protein, meaning it provides all nine essential amino acids. Can’t say that about many plant proteins.

Protein isn’t the only benefit edamame has to offer. Edamame is a good source of dietary fiber, which aids in digestion and helps maintain gut health. Fiber is also important for heart health and can help with managing cholesterol. These beans also offer up healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids. Each serving of edamame contains about 320 mg of alpha linoleic acid (ALA), the plant form of omega-3. For reference, 1,100 to 1,600 mg of ALA is recommended daily for adults.

As for vitamins and minerals, edamame’s got you. It’s rich in folate, a B vitamin needed for brain function, and vitamin K, necessary for proper blood clotting. Edamame also makes a good source of magnesium (needed for metabolism), iron (helps carry oxygen in the blood), zinc (important for immunity), and copper (vital for energy production).

Soy Myths

Soy comes with some baggage. For all you soy skeptics or soy curious people out there, let’s clear up some misconceptions—and verify some truths.

Soy is the second largest crop grown in the United States (corn being #1) and is one of just nine crops that account for two-thirds of global crop production. That lack of diversity isn’t good for the environment. What’s more, about 94% of US-grown soy is GMO. Though the GMO debate is complicated, Daily Harvest supports the non-GMO movement.

Does this mean that all soy harms the environment? No, not at all. Soy can be responsibly grown, and we took care in sourcing sustainable edamame that was grown by farmers we trust.

The nutrients in soy can be misunderstood too. Soy contains isoflavones, which are classified as phytoestrogens because they have a similar chemical structure as estrogen. It was once thought these compounds might pose a risk, but most of that evidence was based on animal studies. There’s plenty of research showing these compounds offer benefits like heart and brain protection.

Let’s Eat Edamame

Edamame is a versatile little bean. You’ll often find it as an appetizer or snack, simply steamed in the pod and sprinkled with flaky salt (note to self: don’t eat the pod). You can also use edamame to bump up the protein in salads, soups, stir frys, or grain bowls. You can find it fresh or frozen, with or without the pod.

If you’re feeling soup, try a bowl of the Edamame + Wild Rice Green Curry Soup. Inspired by Thai green curry, this coconut based soup is bursting with flavor from coriander, lemongrass, and chili flake and is filled with nourishing ingredients like green beans, wild rice, and diced red bell pepper.

Edamame + wild-rice green curry soup

Edamame + Wild Rice Green Curry Soup


Important Notes: Unless otherwise noted, nutrition information is sourced from USDA FoodData Central and reflects the reference amount customarily consumed. These are standardized servings and not necessarily the amount present in the highlighted Daily Harvest recipes. Nutrition information for Daily Harvest products can be found on packages and under "Nutrition Facts" for each product at "dailyharvest.com". Vitamin and mineral functions are sourced from Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center.