Japan's favorite legume is a treasure trove of lean protein, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients

Photo: Mike Lorrig

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Nutritionally, few foods hold a candle to the sensational soybean in its purest form. A staple food in Japan, green soybeans are harvested before fully ripened for a nutty flavor and crisp texture. With more than 17 grams of protein and just 8 grams of fat per cup, edamame is a great source of plant-based protein to quell hunger and build lean body mass. Each serving is also replete with fiber, vitamins C and K, folate, magnesium, potassium, and energizing iron. Furthermore, the isoflavones in soy have been found to protect against type 2 diabetes, lung cancer, and premenopausal breast cancer. Who knew a food could be so naturally talented?

Choose It & Use It

Edamame can be purchased in or out of its pod in the freezer section of most grocery stores. To avoid GMO soy, choose bags labeled organic. Add edamame to salads, soups, and stir-fries, or swap for the chickpeas in hummus or the lima beans in succotash. Or snack on boiled edamame topped with lemon juice, smoked salt, and cayenne.