For thousands of years, people of south East Asia, have consumed soybean in their traditional form such as nimame (cooked whole soy) or, edamame (green fresh soy), soy milk, tempeh or tofu. It wasn’t until the 1960s that soybeans attracted the Western world as a high-quality vegetable protein.
In Japan, immature raw soy beans are known as edamame and are sold fresh or frozen. Depending on the stage of maturity, the nutritional content of the edamame bean can vary.
As with all soy based foods, edamame contain phyto-oestrogenic compounds known as isoflavones. These isoflavones have the potential to mimic oestrogen and can be a beneficial dietary addition to aid in the relief of mild hot flushes. Interestingly, women in Asian countries who have a diet rich in these isoflavones, have a lower rate of hormone related cancers than American women. This is also the case due to a lower consumption of meat and dairy in their diets and a variety of other factors.
These isoflavones can also have a beneficial role in the prevention and slowing the progression of osteoporosis, particularly in menopausal women. A large cohort study conducted over many years in Asian populations found a high consumption of isoflavones lead to a 65% lower risk of ischemic stroke and 63% lower risk of heart attack, in women.
To achieve these same results 25-50mg per day of isoflavones, need to be consumed daily. This equates to approximately ¾ of a cup of edamame beans, daily.
Edamame beans are a perfect source of protein containing all the essential amino acids that our body is unable to produce on its own. It contains a great source of polyunsaturated fatty acids as well as calcium, magnesium, fibre and carbohydrates.