Soybeans originated in Southeast Asia and were cultivated by the Chinese as early as 1100 BC. It didn't take long for the world to catch on to this versatile crop -- since then used for such products as animal feed, in automobile production, including in car enamels, and for human consumption. Soy sauce, tofu and myriad other familiar forms of the soybean began as a simple, fresh, green seed -- known as edamame. Once enjoyed only at the Japanese sushi bar, edamame has found its way into mainstream American meals, serving up fresh flavor and big nutrition.
Edamame, which means "stalk beans" or "branch beans" in Japanese, is used to describe fresh green soybeans either shelled or inside the pod. These are different from other soybeans because they are fresh, not dried. Soybeans are legumes, the seeds of the plant, Glycine max. While edamame are traditional in Japanese, Chinese and Korean diets, the U.S. is the largest soybean grower, mostly for processing into animal feed and soy oil. Soybeans contain a bounty of vitamins, minerals and important nutrients. A one-cup serving has just 189 calories but packs a hefty 32 percent of the Daily Value (percent DV, based on 2,000 calories per day) of dietary fiber, 34 percent DV of protein, and an impressive 121 percent DV of the B vitamin, folate.
osteoporosis, certain cancers and hot flashes in postmenopausal women. While some previous studies associated soy with breast cancer risk, newer research has been more favorable. The American Institute for Cancer Research reports that consuming up to two or three servings per day of soy products is safe, even for breast cancer survivors.
Fresh, raw soybeans are found in the produce and frozen foods sections of Asian, natural food and some grocery stores. Firm, deeply green, unbruised pods will produce the best quality beans when shelled. Alternatively, frozen edamame is available year round. Refrigerate fresh beans up to two days or keep frozen up to three months. Delicious as an appetizer eaten right from the shell, edamame's vibrant hue complements a side dish of corn, diced red pepper and onion, makes a creamy hummus-style dip, and is a lively and nutritious garnish for soups, salads and entrees.
Edamame, frozen, prepared, 1 cup
Dietary fiber: 8 g (32 percent DV)
Protein: 17 g (34 percent DV)
Vitamin K: 41 mcg(52 percent DV)
Thiamin: 3 mg (21 percent DV)
Folate: 482 mcg (121 percent DV)
Iron: 3.5 mg (20 percent DV)
Manganese: 1.6 mg (79 percent DV)
(Environmental Nutrition is the award-winning independent newsletter written by nutrition experts dedicated to providing readers up-to-date, accurate information about health and nutrition in clear, concise English. For more information, visit http://www.environmentalnutrition.com.)