Edamame is a little-known vegetable but this green soybean has been part of the Asian diet for thousands of years. It grows in clusters on bushy branches and is picked while the bean is still young and green.
In just a half-cup serving of the shelled edamame, or in 1 1/8 cup of the pods, you get a snack that is low in calories and high in fiber, with a trace of healthy fats. One serving packs 11 g of complete protein, containing all of the essential amino acids. That much protein in a plant-based source is a vegetarian's dream.
It also provides 9 g of fiber. That's more fiber than you find in the fiber bars in the breakfast aisle. It also contains 10 percent of your daily values of vitamin C and iron, 8 percent of your daily dose of vitamin A and 4 percent of calcium. It also serves as a source of vitamin K and folate.
The benefits of soy-based foods continue to be debated. The primary benefit of soy-based foods, such as edamame, is that they are a significant source of protein, especially considering that soy is a plant. With animal protein comes saturated fat and cholesterol, but edamame and other soy products contain poly- and monounsaturated or "good" fats, with no cholesterol. Studies have suggested that soy can actually reduce triglycerides and LDL or bad cholesterols.
You can find edamame in various supermarkets, Asian markets and some specialist greengrocers and health food stores. It is precooked and you can find it either in the pods or already shelled. All you have to do is thaw it and eat it as a snack or work it into recipes.