The secret of edamame: what it is and its benefits

Edamame is the name for fresh soybeans that are harvested before the seeds harden. The secret is that it is actually a yummy and healthy snack, and it is gaining more popularity these days.

The Japanese have used edamame as an ingredient in recipes and as a snack for many years. Americans are just catching on to it. Edamame has a buttery, nutty flavor and a crisp texture that makes it an addictive snack food or a healthy ingredient in recipes. The pods are picked while young and look like large, fuzzy sugar snap peas. The beans, themselves, are similar in color to fresh lima or fava beans. In the grocery store, you can find edamame in the dried and roasted form (usually lightly salted), in the frozen food section (either shelled or with the pods) and in the fresh produce area. The frozen and dried forms are cooked and ready to be used or eaten.

So what makes this bean so healthy? A half-cup serving of shelled edamame has about 120 calories, 5 gm fat (mostly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats which are heart-healthy) and 5 gm fiber. The fiber amount in this half-cup serving is approximately the same amount you’ll find in 2 slices of whole-wheat bread. Edamame is also a good source of protein as well as vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, some B vitamins and iron.

Edamame can be used in many ways. The frozen, shelled bean can be cooked and served as a side

dish with a little seasoning added. Or, it can be added to salads, casseroles, soups/stews, noodle and rice dishes. At the very least, you can thaw it and keep it in the refrigerator for a quick snack. Dry roasted edamame can be used in salads or just eaten as a quick, crunchy snack.

Check your local grocery store for edamame and give it a try. You might find a new food to add to your healthy menu.