Packed with valuable nutrients, the immature soybean is a healthy addition to any meal or snack. Here's how to eat more of it.

Edamame isn't just a side dish at sushi restaurants. Widely available in both fresh and frozen varieties, edamame—the term used for an immature soybean still in its pod—is a nutritional powerhouse that's very good for you and makes a delicious addition to any meal. Find them shelled or in the shell and toss these tiny green soybeans into everything from soups to stir fries to your grazing board during cocktail hour (steam then sprinkle with flaky sea salt for *chef's kiss* perfection). You can even find freeze-dried edamame to munch on when you need a clean, crunchy snack. Here are all the nutritious reasons to keep a bag or two of edamame in the freezer at all times.

5 Key Edamame Nutrition Facts

1 Edamame is an excellent source of protein.

For one, edamame is a complete protein source. "This means that it contains all nine essential amino acids, which is great for vegetarians and vegans, as it can be difficult to find plant-based options that are complete protein sources," says Emma Newell, RD, LDN, a registered dietitian with NourishRX based in Salem, Mass. Edamame contains about 18 grams of protein per cup.

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2 Edamame has tons of fiber.

In addition to protein, edamame is also a great source of fiber, with 8 grams per cup—about one-third of the daily recommended fiber for women, says Newell.

3 Edamame is full of heart-healthy fats.

It also contains both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids (6 grams and 0.6. grams per cup, respectively), about the same amount you'd get from eating 1 ounce of walnuts.

4 They're nutrient-dense and macronutrient-balanced.

One of the main factors that makes edamame so good for you is its undeniable nutrient density. That means it packs in a lot of incredible nutrients relative to its size and calorie amount, without any (or much) unhealthy stuff (added sugar, saturated fats, sodium, and so on). The macronutrient balance of edamame—meaning the balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat—is also ideal. This helps to aid in satiety and satisfaction throughout the day, says Newell.

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5 Edamame is also packed with vital micronutrients like iron, magnesium, and copper.

Micronutrients of edamame nutrition shouldn't be overlooked, however. "Edamame is packed with micronutrients such as thiamine, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, vitamin K, folate, and manganese, which are all vital to maintaining metabolism and overall balance in our bodies," adds Newell.

Should I Be Worried About Soy in Edamame?

This is an age-old question. Edamame is a form of soy, which is an isoflavone that contains phytoestrogen, a plant compound that has the ability to exert estrogen-like effects. "Because of this, people had been skeptical to include soy in their diet," Newell says.

However, there are a couple reasons you don't need to worry about these soy-related effects, says Newell. For one, early studies showing that exposure to high doses of isoflavones led to higher risk of breast cancer were done on rats, which process soy differently than humans. Also, multiple new epidemiological studies have followed women for years and shown no association between consumption of soy and breast cancer, says Newell. "In fact, [newer] studies show that intake of soy products, like edamame, may even have a preventative effect against cancers," she adds.

Additionally, the American Institute for Cancer Research asserts that soy intake does not increase cancer risk. So, you can add edamame to your plate without concern.

How to Eat More Edamame

There are so many ways to work edamame into a healthy, balanced diet. You can purchase the pods fresh when they're in season (in summer) or frozen (shelled or unshelled) in the freezer section of nearly any grocery store.

A classic way to cook edamame is to boil, steam, or microwave the pods, then sprinkle with a little sea salt (or seasoning of your choice) and enjoy. Newell says edamame is also perfect for adding to stir fries, salads, and tacos, or you can even make your own hummus using shelled edamame.

Edamame Pasta Salad
Credit: Greg DuPree

Edamame Pasta Salad

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This simple side relies on frozen shelled edamame to make an easy pasta salad come together in only 15 minutes.

Chicken Teriyaki Meatballs With Edamame and Snow Peas
Credit: Marcus Nilsson

Chicken Teriyaki Meatballs with Edamame

Get a double boost of protein from ground chicken and edamame with this hearty and heart-healthy, Asian-inspired main.

Risotto With Edamame, Lemon Zest, and Tarragon
Credit: Ngoc Minh Ngo

Risotto with Edamame, Lemon, and Tarragon

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Risotto in 40 minutes? We'll take it. The flavors of dry white wine, lemon zest and fresh tarragon pair beautifully with edamame.

Asian Dumpling Soup With Shiitakes and Edamame Recipe
Credit: Con Poulos

Asian Dumpling Soup with Shiitakes

Turn to frozen pot sticker dumplings and frozen edamame to get this veggie-rich soup on the table in no time.

Credit: Greg DuPree

Spring Green Salad

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This easy salad recipe proves that a fresh-tasting hearty plate of greens and mix-ins can be dinner—or at least a very satisfying side. The base is romaine lettuce hearts with chopped cucumber, snap peas, and edamame mixed in.