I often get asked, is Edamame okay to eat? Edamame is a Japanese word for soybean and can be found in numerous markets or even on the appetizer menu at restaurants. These little green soybeans are a fiber-rich food which is a great source of protein and even have a little heart-healthy omega-3 fats. They are often enjoyed by vegetarians due to the high protein amounts.
I am not a proponent of soy products, mainly the things like soy cheese, soy burgers, soy protein isolates (SPI) which you will find in energy bars and frozen entrees, soy ice creams, and soy milks. Most soybeans grown in the U.S. are from genetically modified seeds, which are suspect for being the cause of allergies and many other health problems. So, if you are going to eat edamame, make sure they are organic.
I only recommend small amounts of organic edamame on occasion which will not create issues – given you are not allergic. Ordering it as an appetizer or tossing a few on your salad is okay, but buying a whole box at Costco and snacking on it like popcorn is not.
This little soybean has been part of the Asian diet for thousands of years. A typical Japanese diet mainly consists of 7 to 10 grams (about 2 teaspoons!) of whole soy foods including tofu, edamame, tempeh, soy sauce, and miso and their diet is also very rich in fish, vegetables, sea vegetables, fruits, ginger, and green tea. And their diets tend to not include processed foods with SPI, like cookies, milk, crackers, protein bars, and soy dogs.
Personally, I choose to avoid processed soy products and soy protein isolates wherever possible and only eat fermented soy in moderation.