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Edamame Is Safe To Eat!

By Elaine Magee, RDFebruary 14, 2008
From the WebMD Archives

Some people worry that eating edamame isn’t good for us because we aren’t cooking it very long. They think that the short cooking time does not eliminate the enzyme that inhibits digestion of proteins.

I’m here to tell you, open that bag of shelled edamame! Continue to peel those pods (if you like buying edamame with their shells). In case you haven’t come across these mild flavored green soybeans, they are available in the frozen section with or without their shells. They need only brief cooking and are completely different from dried mature soybeans, which must be soaked and cooked until tender. It seems the enzyme that can inhibit protein digestion doesn’t even “turn-on” until the bean is completely matured. Plus, edamame beans are blanched right after harvest at high temperatures that inactivate various enzymes that might cause digestive disruption.

Dr. Lester Wilson, University Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Iowa State University, has been quoted as saying that “the frozen edamame available in supermarkets and restaurants has been blanched before freezing and is reheated before serving (usually several minutes in the microwave). This heating inactivates or denatures the SBTI (soy bean trypsin inhibitor) that might otherwise bind with the trypsin enzyme and interfere with protein absorption.”

Wilson goes on to explain that, while a tiny amount of trypsin inhibitors may remain, there’s not enough to cause any harm. In fact, a tiny amount of trypsin may act as an anti-cancer compound.

Here are my favorite ways to use edamame:

  • Add to fried rice (the lower fat version in my book, FRY LIGHT, FRY RIGHT!) instead of peas
  • Add to scrambled eggs
  • Add to green salad instead of kidney beans
  • Puree with avocado to make guacamole
  • Add to canned or homemade soups
  • I like to eat them as a snack by themselves too!
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