Growing Edamame & Health Benefits of Soy

Posted by Jessica Meyers Altman on

Edamame-what is it? For those of you not obsessed with edamame, edamame is soy bean. It's served steamed in its pod at all Japanese restaurants and is an amazing source of plant-based protein. Soy, in its natural form, is an excellent source of protein and fiber. Edamame is very easy to grow, and is easily harvested and stored. I never buy non-organic soy and edamame, as it is the top 2 genetically modified foods in the world (second to corn, and right ahead of sugar beets). Since I prefer my foods non-GMO, I'm very aware of this.  There is a lot of conflicting information out there about soy. However, recent studies have looked to soy as a great way to improve osteoporosis, decrease the age at which young girls start puberty, and actually help reduce the risk of breast cancer and reoccurrence. I feel that a great resource to learn more about the impacts soy has upon cancer rates, both for men an women, is www.nutritionfacts.org, where Dr. Michael Gregor looks at many studies on the subject.  Taken from his page: "A 2012 review looked at the three studies done to date on the link between soy and breast cancer survival. It showed that women who ate the most soy had a 29% lower risk of dying from breast cancer and a 36% lower risk of cancer recurrence. A fourth study has since been published that reaffirms these results. With an average intake of soy phytonutrients above 17 mg/day—the amount found in about a cup of soymilk—the mortality of breast cancer may be reduced by as much as 38%." (Source). While we shouldn't take such information to mean we should eat only soy, soy in its least processed forms of edamame, tofu, tempeh, and miso, are great additions to any diet. Try to avoid soy that has been denatured from its original form, such as textured vegetable protein, and other highly processed forms. This is when soy becomes unstable, and can actually lead to greater inflammation, versus decreasing it. 

I grow this delicious snack by organic seed. You place the seeds directly into the soil, and they grow quickly, similarly to a bush bean plant. They take longer to mature than bush beans, about 60-70 days, and are typically harvested all at once.  If you're interested in growing them, you would harvest once the pods are full, and you can feel and see the firm seeds.  Pull the entire plant out, and sit and remove pods from plants.  Don't let them go too long past this state, or they will begin to turn brown. At this point, the pods are getting ready to be shelled, or used as a dried bean. If this happens, you can use the bean as a dried soybean, not a freshly eaten one. I harvest, and then throw pods into boiling water for 2 minutes, remove and blanch in ice cold water, and then dry. Once they are dry, the edamame can be sealed in freezer bags for later use. When ready to eat, drop into a pot of boiling water that has been slightly salted, and boil for 2 minutes, until bright green. Drain and lightly salt to taste. Enjoy the beans by biting out the beans from their pods (don't eat the pods). 

I also love using shelled edamame in different dishes. A great one is my Harvest Edamame Salad with Oil Free Basil Dressing. 

Enjoy! And happy eating...until next week :)

Jessica from www.gardenfreshfoodie.com visit for more plant-based recipes!


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