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Edamame vs. Soybean: What’s the Difference?

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Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan by Victoria Mazmanyan | Last updated on June 28, 2023
Medically reviewed by Arpi Gasparyan Article author photo Arpi Gasparyan
Soybean
vs
Edamame

Summary

Edamame and soybeans are varieties of the same plant species; soybeans are mature seeds, and edamame is the immature bean harvested when they are still green.

Soybeans are denser in nutrients and are higher in calories, protein, and fats. Edamame contains more net carbs, while soybeans are richer in dietary fiber.

Edamame beans are a better source of vitamins, containing 6 times more folate or vitamin B9 and 4 times more vitamin C.

Conversely, soybeans are richer in most minerals, such as iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and copper. They are also lower in sodium.

 

Introduction

Edamame and soybeans are varieties of the same plant species, Glycine max. However, they differ in terms of their maturity and how they are prepared and consumed. This article will compare two different forms of the same plant and see how different they can be in nutrition and health impact.

Appearance, Taste, and Use

Soybeans are mature beans typically dried before being used to make soy products such as tofu, tempeh, miso, soy milk, and soy sauce. They are also used in various food products as a source of protein and fiber. Soybeans can also be boiled and eaten as such or added to soups, stews, and sauces.

Edamame beans, also known as vegetable soybeans, are immature soybeans that are harvested when they are still green and tender. They are commonly served as a snack or appetizer in Japanese cuisine, often steamed or boiled in salted water and served with soy sauce or other seasonings.  They may also be added to salads, soups, rice, and pasta dishes.

Soy products are widely used as meat substitutes as they are great sources of essential nutrients.

Edamame pods are small, green, and plump; the beans inside are bright green and typically about the size of a fingernail. On the other hand, soybean pods are larger and flatter than edamame pods, and the beans inside are a pale, creamy color with a slightly wrinkled texture.

Both edamame and soybeans have a mild, nutty flavor with a slightly sweet taste. When cooked, edamame pods have a slightly crunchy texture on the outside, with tender, sweet beans on the inside. Soybeans, however, are typically eaten after being shelled and often take on the flavors of other ingredients they are cooked with, such as spices or sauces. 

Nutrition

The nutritional infographics below are presented for 100g servings of prepared frozen edamame and mature soybeans, boiled without salt.

The average serving size of these dishes per person is one cup, equal to around 155g for edamame and 172g for soybeans.

Macronutrients and Calories

Soybeans are overall denser in nutrients, consisting of 63% water and 37% nutrients, while edamame is comprised of 73% water and 27% nutrients.

The primary macronutrient found in these beans is protein, followed by carbohydrates and fats.

Macronutrient Comparison

Macronutrient breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Protein +52.9%
Contains more Fats +72.5%
Contains more Other +57.9%
Contains more Water +16.3%
Equal in Carbs - 8.91
18% 9% 8% 63% 2%
Protein: 18.21 g
Fats: 8.97 g
Carbs: 8.36 g
Water: 62.55 g
Other: 1.91 g
12% 5% 9% 73%
Protein: 11.91 g
Fats: 5.2 g
Carbs: 8.91 g
Water: 72.77 g
Other: 1.21 g
Contains more Protein +52.9%
Contains more Fats +72.5%
Contains more Other +57.9%
Contains more Water +16.3%
Equal in Carbs - 8.91

Calories

Both of these beans are high-calorie foods. However, soybeans are higher in calories, containing 172 calories per 100g, whereas edamame beans have 121 calories in the same serving.

Protein

Soybeans are significantly richer in protein, containing 6.3g more of it in every 100g serving. A 100g serving of soybean covers 43% of the daily needed value for this nutrient. The same serving of edamame beans covers 28%.

A 100g of soybeans and edamame beans provide 18.2g and 12g of protein, respectively.

These beans contain some levels of all essential amino acids; however, soybeans are richer in all of these.

Fats

Soybeans are also higher in fats, containing 4g more per 100g serving. In this serving size, soybeans provide 9g, while edamame beans contain 5.2g of fats.

The predominant fat type found in these beans is polyunsaturated fats, followed by monounsaturated fats, leaving saturated fats in the last place.

Soybeans are around two times richer in both saturated and unsaturated fats.

Fat Type Comparison

Fat type breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +54.5%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +134.9%
Contains less Saturated Fat -52.2%
16% 24% 61%
Saturated Fat: 1.297 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 1.981 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 5.064 g
15% 32% 53%
Saturated Fat: 0.62 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 1.282 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 2.156 g
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +54.5%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +134.9%
Contains less Saturated Fat -52.2%

Like all plant products, soybeans and edamame beans do not contain cholesterol.

Carbohydrates

Edamame beans and soybeans contain nearly the same amount of carbohydrates: 8.91g in edamame and 8.36g in soybeans. 

Dietary fiber makes up over 50% of their total carbs. A 100g of edamame beans contain 5.2g of dietary fiber, whereas soybeans contain 6g.

Vitamins

Edamame beans are a better source of most vitamins, being 6 times richer in folate or vitamin B9 and covering the DV by 78%, 4 times richer in vitamin C, and 2 times richer in vitamins B3 and B5.

Edamame beans also tend to contain more vitamins B1, A, E, and K.

At the same time, soybeans are around two times richer in vitamins B2 and B6.  

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
:
Contains more Vitamin B2 +83.9%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +134%
Contains more Vitamin A +3211.1%
Contains more Vitamin E +94.3%
Contains more Vitamin C +258.8%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +29%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +129.3%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +120.7%
Contains more Folate +475.9%
Contains more Vitamin K +39.1%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 1% 7% 0% 6% 39% 66% 8% 11% 54% 41% 0% 48%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 18% 14% 0% 21% 50% 36% 18% 24% 24% 234% 0% 67%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +83.9%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +134%
Contains more Vitamin A +3211.1%
Contains more Vitamin E +94.3%
Contains more Vitamin C +258.8%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +29%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +129.3%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +120.7%
Contains more Folate +475.9%
Contains more Vitamin K +39.1%

Minerals

Conversely, soybeans are the winner in this category. Soybeans contain 2 times more iron and cover the DV of iron by 64% for men and 28.5% for women. They are also higher in calcium, phosphorus, selenium, magnesium, potassium, and copper.

Soybeans are also lower in sodium than edamame beans. However, their sodium contents are insignificant.

On the other hand, edamame beans are somewhat richer in zinc and manganese.

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Contains more Calcium +61.9%
Contains more Iron +126.4%
Contains more Magnesium +34.4%
Contains more Phosphorus +45%
Contains more Potassium +18.1%
Contains less Sodium -83.3%
Contains more Copper +18%
Contains more Selenium +812.5%
Contains more Zinc +19.1%
Contains more Manganese +24.3%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 31% 193% 62% 105% 46% 1% 32% 136% 108% 40%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 19% 86% 46% 73% 39% 1% 38% 115% 134% 5%
Contains more Calcium +61.9%
Contains more Iron +126.4%
Contains more Magnesium +34.4%
Contains more Phosphorus +45%
Contains more Potassium +18.1%
Contains less Sodium -83.3%
Contains more Copper +18%
Contains more Selenium +812.5%
Contains more Zinc +19.1%
Contains more Manganese +24.3%

Glycemic Index

Research has calculated the glycemic index of soybeans to be 14, which is a very low glycemic index value (1).

There is no exact number for the glycemic index value of edamame beans yet. While this number may be a little higher than 14 due to higher net carb and lower fiber content, it will still fall in the low glycemic index category.

Health Impact

Soybeans and their products are known to be highly nutritious, offering a variety of beneficial health impacts. Soybeans are more thoroughly researched compared to edamame beans. However, a lot of the qualities are shared between the two beans, as they can contain the same phytochemicals and proteins.

Soy, soy products, and legume seeds are the main sources of isoflavones, phytoestrogens resembling estrogens, primarily estradiol. Soybeans are over 3 times richer in this phytochemicals (2, 3).

Cardiovascular Health

The American Heart Association recommends including soy protein foods in a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol to promote heart health and lower the risk of heart disease. Those who have hypercholesterolemia are proportionately more likely to benefit from soy protein. By carefully replacing animal protein with soy, one can reduce saturated fat and cholesterol intake, improving their blood cholesterol levels and possibly lowering their risk of coronary heart disease (4).

Research has found a significant negative association between soy intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and coronary heart disease (5).

Edamame extract, rich in a phytochemical called genistein, has been studied to reduce inflammation markers in the blood (6).

Diabetes

Soybeans and edamame beans have very low glycemic index values, meaning the consumption of these foods raises blood glucose levels very gradually.

According to the study's findings, adding soybean to the diet had a positive impact on individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus's lipid metabolism, antioxidant enzyme activities, and blood glucose management. Soybean may therefore be useful in the treatment of diabetes mellitus patients (7).

Memory and Cognitive Function

Soybeans and edamame isoflavones may have a protective effect against neurological disorders, such as cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.

It has been suggested that soy consumption may help prevent age-related memory loss or cognitive decline (2).

It has to be mentioned that studies are not conclusive on soy beans' impact on neurological health.

Other Health Effects of Soy Isoflavones

  • Bone health. Soy isoflavones may reduce the risk of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women, a disease characterized by bone loss that may lead to sudden bone fractures. 
  • Menopause. Isoflavones, primarily genistein, may reduce menopausal symptoms. According to research, genistein supplements may reduce the frequency of hot flashes by 10-20%. However, phytoestrogens may be harmful to women of reproductive age, as they may disrupt the menstrual cycle and increase the risk of endometriosis and secondary infertility.
  • Breast Cancer. Soy isoflavones are linked to a reduced risk of breast cancer. Breast cancer occurrence is lower in Asian countries, where people consume 12.5-25 times more isoflavones daily than in Western countries (3, 8).
Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan
Education: General Medicine at YSMU
Last updated: June 28, 2023
Medically reviewed by Arpi Gasparyan

Infographic

Soybean vs Edamame infographic
Infographic link

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the rightmost column. It displays the amounts side by side, giving a clearer understanding of the difference.
Soybean Edamame
Rich in minerals ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in Glycemic Index ok
Lower in price ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Soybean Edamame Opinion
Net carbs 2.36g 3.71g Edamame
Protein 18.21g 11.91g Soybean
Fats 8.97g 5.2g Soybean
Carbs 8.36g 8.91g Edamame
Calories 172kcal 121kcal Soybean
Starch 1.51g Edamame
Fructose 0.12g Edamame
Sugar 3g 2.18g Edamame
Fiber 6g 5.2g Soybean
Calcium 102mg 63mg Soybean
Iron 5.14mg 2.27mg Soybean
Magnesium 86mg 64mg Soybean
Phosphorus 245mg 169mg Soybean
Potassium 515mg 436mg Soybean
Sodium 1mg 6mg Soybean
Zinc 1.15mg 1.37mg Edamame
Copper 0.407mg 0.345mg Soybean
Manganese 0.824mg 1.024mg Edamame
Selenium 7.3µg 0.8µg Soybean
Vitamin A 9IU 298IU Edamame
Vitamin A RAE 0µg 15µg Edamame
Vitamin E 0.35mg 0.68mg Edamame
Vitamin C 1.7mg 6.1mg Edamame
Vitamin B1 0.155mg 0.2mg Edamame
Vitamin B2 0.285mg 0.155mg Soybean
Vitamin B3 0.399mg 0.915mg Edamame
Vitamin B5 0.179mg 0.395mg Edamame
Vitamin B6 0.234mg 0.1mg Soybean
Folate 54µg 311µg Edamame
Vitamin K 19.2µg 26.7µg Edamame
Tryptophan 0.242mg 0.126mg Soybean
Threonine 0.723mg 0.331mg Soybean
Isoleucine 0.807mg 0.3mg Soybean
Leucine 1.355mg 0.745mg Soybean
Lysine 1.108mg 0.745mg Soybean
Methionine 0.224mg 0.141mg Soybean
Phenylalanine 0.869mg 0.488mg Soybean
Valine 0.831mg 0.324mg Soybean
Histidine 0.449mg 0.267mg Soybean
Trans Fat 0g 0.009g Soybean
Saturated Fat 1.297g 0.62g Edamame
Omega-3 - EPA 0g 0.003g Edamame
Monounsaturated Fat 1.981g 1.282g Soybean
Polyunsaturated fat 5.064g 2.156g Soybean
Omega-6 - Eicosadienoic acid 0.002g Edamame
Omega-6 - Linoleic acid 1.789g Edamame
Omega-3 - ALA 0.358g Edamame

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Soybean Edamame
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low Glycemic Index diet ok

People also compare

Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score

The summary scores indicate the extent to which this food can fulfill your daily vitamin and mineral requirements if you consume 3 servings, consisting of 100 grams of each (an approximation of 3 serving sizes).
Vitamins Daily Need Coverage Score
23%
Soybean
42%
Edamame
Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
75%
Soybean
55%
Edamame

Comparison summary

Which food is richer in minerals?
Soybean
Soybean is relatively richer in minerals
Which food contains less Sodium?
Soybean
Soybean contains less Sodium (difference - 5mg)
Which food is lower in Sugar?
Edamame
Edamame is lower in Sugar (difference - 0.82g)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Edamame
Edamame is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.677g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Edamame
Edamame is lower in glycemic index (difference - 14)
Which food is cheaper?
Edamame
Edamame is cheaper (difference - $3.4)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Edamame
Edamame is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)

References

All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Soybean - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/174271/nutrients
  2. Edamame - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168411/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.