Soybean vs Edamame - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison
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 33 times more vitamin A, six times more folate or vitamin B9, and four 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.
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, 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.
Edamame beans, on the other hand, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Like all plant products, soybeans and edamame beans do not contain cholesterol.
Edamame beans and soybeans contain nearly the same amount of carbohydrates. However, edamame beans are slightly higher in this macronutrient - less than a gram per 100g serving.
At the same time, soybeans are richer in dietary fiber. Thus, edamame beans are higher in net carbs.
Edamame beans are a better source of most vitamins, being 33 times higher in vitamin A, six times richer in folate or vitamin B9, four times richer in vitamin C. and two times richer in vitamins B3 and B5. These beans also tend to contain more vitamins E, K, and B1.
At the same time, soybeans are around two times richer in vitamins B2 and B6.
Conversely, soybeans are the winner in this category. Soybeans contain higher levels of iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and copper. These beans are also around two times lower in sodium.
Nevertheless, edamame beans are somewhat richer in zinc.
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.
Soybeans and their products are known to be highly nutritious, offering a variety of beneficial health impacts. In this section, we will look at some of the science behind these claims.
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.
The American Heart Association recommends including soy protein foods in a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol to promote heart health. 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 (2).
Research has found a significant negative association between soy intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and coronary heart disease (3).
Edamame extract, rich in a phytochemical called genistein, has been studied to reduce inflammation markers in the blood (4).
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 (5).
Memory and Cognitive Function
Soybeans and edamame beans contain a phytochemical called isoflavone, which may have a protective effect against neurological disorders, such as cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. Soybeans are over three times richer in this phytochemical (6).
It has been suggested that soy consumption may help prevent age-related memory loss or cognitive decline (6).
It has to be mentioned that studies are not conclusive on soy beans' impact on neurological health.
Comparison summary table
|Rich in minerals|
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in glycemic index|
|Lower in price|
|Rich in vitamins|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
All nutrients comparison - raw data values
|Vitamin A RAE||0µg||15µg|
|Omega-3 - EPA||0g||0.003g|
|Omega-6 - Eicosadienoic acid||0.002g|
|Omega-6 - Linoleic acid||1.789g|
|Omega-3 - ALA||0.358g|
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low Calories diet|
|Low glycemic index diet|