East Asians like to eat edamame as a snack. Lately, these beans have also gained popularity in the Western world because they contain many proteins and micronutrients.
But does that make them suitable for a low-carb diet like keto? Does that also make edamame healthy in any case? You’ll learn that and more in this article.
Is Edamame Keto?
Edamame is a type of immature soybean used in numerous Asian dishes.
These round, light green beans are often still enclosed in their pods. You pop them out before eating.
Although soybeans have been cultivated in China for more than 7,000 years, they have only been introduced to the West in recent centuries.
However, the term edamame was first used in 1951 and only entered dictionaries this millennium. The Japanese word translates as beans on a branch. It is derived from eda (branch or stem) and mame (bean).
Today, edamame is a popular product usually found in the frozen food sections of larger grocery stores.
It is also used in various recipes and has been able to gain popularity in recent years because of its unique flavor and exceptional texture.
Carbs in Edamame
On the one hand, soy is a concentrated feed for fattening animals due to its protein content, and on the other hand, the soybean is a legume.
The latter characteristic suggests that besides proteins, many carbohydrates could be hiding in edamame. For this reason, we need to take a closer look at the macronutrients of the immature soybean.
How Many Carbs Are in Edamame Beans?
100 grams of edamame provide the following average nutritional values (*):
- Energy: 121 calories
- Protein: 10.9 grams
- Fat: 5.2 grams
- Carbohydrates: 10.2 grams
- Dietary fiber: 5.2 grams
- Net carbs: 5.0 grams
Thus, edamame beans have fat to net carbohydrate ratio of 1.04. At first glance, not great, but neither disastrous. However, there is also a lot more protein than fat in edamame.
In short, edamame is not a go-to low-carb food. Nevertheless, the absolute amount of net carbohydrates in edamame is foreseeable.
Moreover, the immature soybean contains many fats, where pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids predominate.
Is Edamame Keto-Friendly?
Assuming a maximum serving size of 150 grams of edamame, we get about 7.5 grams of net carbohydrates (*).
Hence, you will not exceed the average tolerance of 25-50 grams of carbohydrates per day for maintaining ketosis.
So in terms of macronutrient distribution, you can snack on a handful or two of edamame beans on a keto diet.
But how does edamame perform in terms of micronutrients and health in general?
Is Edamame Healthy?
Contrary to popular belief, soy products are not always healthy, at least when it comes to unfermented soy. Fermented soy is one thing. But eating edamame, soy milk, and soy protein are quite another.
So it’s no surprise that the consumption of soy products, including edamame, has become a controversial topic in recent years.
Nutrients of Edamame
On the one hand, young edamame beans show us a very appealing and balanced nutrient profile. Among the micronutrients, the following items stand out in particular (*):
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
- Folic acid
On the other hand, other factors exist that counteract this very beneficial side of soybeans as a food. The following concerns are readily disregarded in the marketing of this trendy crop.
Side Effects of Edamame on Keto
- Protein: Soy is no great protein source. Although soy performs better than black beans, the legume ranks low in protein quality (Hoffman et al. 20041). In muscle protein synthesis, animal proteins are ahead. According to an Oxford study, even skim milk stimulates muscle growth better than soy protein (Wilkinson et al. 20072).
- Phytic acid: As in other legumes, this antinutrient is also present in edamame. Since phytic acid can insolubly bind minerals in the digestive tract, it significantly limits nutrient absorption (Gibson et al. 20103). Therefore, some researchers warn against regular consumption of soy milk as it can cause micronutrient deficiencies (Onuegbu et al. 20184).
- Lectins: Like other legumes, soybeans protect themselves from predators with these sticky proteins. These antinutrients bind pathogens, helping them to cross the intestinal wall and reach organs (Dalla Pellegrina et al. 20095). Moreover, lectins can cause inflammation (Freed 19996).
- Phytoestrogen: Soy isoflavones, also called phytoestrogens, can mimic the sex hormone estrogen in the body. While in women, consumption of soy products can prolong the duration of the menstrual cycle, in men, it decreases sperm count and quality (Messina 20167; Chavarro et al. 20088).
- Allergies: Because edamame is soybeans, they are not suitable for people with allergies to soy products.
- GMO: Soy is the number one genetically modified organism (GMO). In the U.S., about 94% of the soybean crop comes from genetically engineered plants (USDA 20209). Many people avoid eating such crops because of long-term health effects, antibiotic resistance, and food allergy concerns (Bawa et al. 201210).
- Glyphosate: Industrially bred soybeans have been genetically engineered to resist glyphosate. This way, producers can kill weeds without killing the soy plants. Glyphosate consumption promotes numerous diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, and autism (Rodrigues et al. 201811).
Edamame Is Keto But Not Necessarily Healthy
Edamame is low in total net carbohydrates. Therefore, immature soybeans are suitable for a ketogenic diet from a macronutrient perspective.
While edamame may be suitable as an occasional keto snack, I wouldn’t eat it regularly.
Besides antinutrients like phytic acid or lectins, young soybeans contain goitrogens. Goitrogens are compounds that can impair thyroid function by blocking iodine absorption (Messina 201612).
However, fermentation can reduce the number of antinutrients in the final product.
If you want to snack on delicious edamame on the keto diet, make sure they are organically grown. By doing this, you’ll minimize your potential exposure to genetically modified foods and glyphosate.
You can find probably the current best low-carb edamame for keto through the following affiliate link: Sea Salt Dry Roasted Edamame.
Nevertheless, in my opinion, fermented soy products are the better alternative if you have already chosen soy. These include natto, tempeh, or authentic miso soup.
Carbs in Edamame Keto FAQ
Is Edamame Keto-friendly?
Edamame contains about 5 grams of net carbs per 100 grams. Hence, edamame is keto-friendly in moderation.
Is edamame carb or protein?
In short, edamame is both. There are about as many carbs as protein in edamame but only half as many net carbs.
Will soy kick you out of ketosis?
Snacking on immature soybeans will not easily kick you out of ketosis. Only eating about a whole pound of edamame will kick you out of ketosis.
Studies Click to expand!
2Wilkinson SB, Tarnopolsky MA, Macdonald MJ, Macdonald JR, Armstrong D, Phillips SM. Consumption of fluid skim milk promotes greater muscle protein accretion after resistance exercise than does consumption of an isonitrogenous and isoenergetic soy-protein beverage. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Apr;85(4):1031-40. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/85.4.1031. PubMed PMID: 17413102.
3Gibson RS, Bailey KB, Gibbs M, Ferguson EL. A review of phytate, iron, zinc, and calcium concentrations in plant-based complementary foods used in low-income countries and implications for bioavailability. Food Nutr Bull. 2010 Jun;31(2 Suppl):S134-46. doi: 10.1177/15648265100312S206. Review. PubMed PMID: 20715598.
4Onuegbu AJ, Olisekodiaka JM, Irogue SE, Amah UK, Okwara JE, Ayelagbe OG, Onah CE. Consumption of Soymilk Reduces Lipid Peroxidation But May Lower Micronutrient Status in Apparently Healthy Individuals. J Med Food. 2018 May;21(5):506-510. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2017.0094. Epub 2018 Feb 12. PubMed PMID: 29432056.
5Dalla Pellegrina C, Perbellini O, Scupoli MT, Tomelleri C, Zanetti C, Zoccatelli G, Fusi M, Peruffo A, Rizzi C, Chignola R. Effects of wheat germ agglutinin on human gastrointestinal epithelium: insights from an experimental model of immune/epithelial cell interaction. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2009 Jun 1;237(2):146-53. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2009.03.012. Epub 2009 Mar 28. PubMed PMID: 19332085.
6Freed DL. Do dietary lectins cause disease?. BMJ. 1999 Apr 17;318(7190):1023-4. doi: 10.1136/bmj.318.7190.1023. PubMed PMID: 10205084; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC1115436.
7Messina M. Soy and Health Update: Evaluation of the Clinical and Epidemiologic Literature. Nutrients. 2016 Nov 24;8(12). doi: 10.3390/nu8120754. Review. PubMed PMID: 27886135; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5188409.
8Chavarro JE, Toth TL, Sadio SM, Hauser R. Soy food and isoflavone intake in relation to semen quality parameters among men from an infertility clinic. Hum Reprod. 2008 Nov;23(11):2584-90. doi: 10.1093/humrep/den243. Epub 2008 Jul 23. PubMed PMID: 18650557; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2721724.
9USDA. Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the U.S.: Recent Trends in GE Adoption Washington, D.C.: United States Department of Agriculture, 2014. Retrieved 2022 Jan 19, from https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/adoption-of-genetically-engineered-crops-in-the-us/recent-trends-in-ge-adoption.aspx.
10Bawa AS, Anilakumar KR. Genetically modified foods: safety, risks and public concerns-a review. J Food Sci Technol. 2013 Dec;50(6):1035-46. doi: 10.1007/s13197-012-0899-1. Epub 2012 Dec 19. Review. PubMed PMID: 24426015; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3791249.
11Rodrigues NR, de Souza APF. Occurrence of glyphosate and AMPA residues in soy-based infant formula sold in Brazil. Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess. 2018 Apr;35(4):723-730. doi: 10.1080/19440049.2017.1419286. Epub 2018 Feb 20. PubMed PMID: 29267136.
12Messina M. Soy and Health Update: Evaluation of the Clinical and Epidemiologic Literature. Nutrients. 2016 Nov 24;8(12). doi: 10.3390/nu8120754. Review. PubMed PMID: 27886135; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5188409.