Is It Safe To Eat Edamame During Pregnancy?

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Edamame is a healthy, proteinaceous food known for its amazing health benefits. Hence, many expectant moms consider adding edamame to their diets during pregnancy. While it is a great source of nutrients and proteins, you may have certain concerns regarding the safety aspects of including this food item in your pregnancy diet.

Read on as we tell you whether it is safe to consume edamame during pregnancy, its nutritional value, potential health benefits, possible side effects, and how to consume it.

What Is Edamame?

Edamame refers to soybeans that are not fully ripe. Edamame is harvested when the beans are yet to reach their full maturity. It is widely eaten in Japan but has recently become a popular snack food across many other parts of the world. Since edamame is less mature than soybeans, there are differences in the nutritional content of both foods. However, both are healthy sources of protein and other essential nutrients.

What Is The Nutritional Value Of Edamame?

Edamame is a healthy legume that can help satisfy your daily requirement for many nutrients. 100g of frozen and prepared edamame provides the following main nutrients (1):

  • Fat – 5.2g
  • Fiber – 5.2g
  • Carbohydrate – 8.91g
  • Protein – 11.9g

Edamame is rich in iron, calcium, vitamin C , and vitamin A. It is also a good source of manganese, potassium, copper, phosphorus, riboflavin, vitamin K, folate, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Is It Safe To Eat Edamame During Pregnancy?

Pregnant women can safely eat one serving of edamame a day. However, there are some concerns regarding soy consumption during pregnancy. Therefore, if you are pregnant, consume soy products only after gaining the approval of your doctor. Also, it is best to consume organic soy products during pregnancy.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Consuming Edamame When Pregnant?

The research on the health benefits of edamame or soybeans is ongoing. However, it is said to be good for cardiac health, bone health, cognitive function, and visual memory. It also provides relief from menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and protection against some cancers due to its high antioxidant content (2).

Further, eating soy products during pregnancy is generally quite safe (3). Here are some health benefits of eating edamame during pregnancy:

1. Rich source of plant-based protein

Edamame is a good source of plant-based protein. Plant-based protein sources are healthier meat alternatives since they don’t contain saturated fats that increase the risk of heart diseases. Pregnant women who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet can regularly eat edamame for their protein requirements. It is also a good source of calcium for women with lactose intolerance.

2. Low in calories

All legumes are rich in nutrients but low in calories. The body processes the carbohydrates in legumes at a steady pace; therefore, the consumption of legumes helps keep hunger pangs at bay. A small serving of legumes such as edamame offers a generous mix of carbohydrates and numerous antioxidants (4).

3. Rich folate source

Edamame is a good source of folate (a type of B-vitamin). Though folate is naturally found in foods, it is also added to the diet as folic acid. Folate minimizes the risk of birth defects in fetuses and reduces the risk of premature labor. All forms of soybeans are good sources of this essential vitamin for pregnant women and women planning for pregnancy (4) (5).

4. Rich fiber source

Being rich in fiber, edamame can keep a pregnant woman’s gut healthy and prevent constipation, which is common among pregnant women.

What Are The Side Effects Of Eating Edamame When Pregnant?

Eating edamame is good for your health but may have some side effects, including:

1. Allergies

Pregnant women with soy allergies should not consume edamame or soy in any form. However, pregnant women who are not allergic to soy must also not take soy supplements without their doctor’s approval. Some signs of soy allergy are nausea, hives, itching, diarrhea, and flushed skin (2).

2. Risk of bleeding

Pregnant women who are on blood-thinning drugs must monitor their consumption of soy products. Soy is rich in vitamin K, which enables blood clotting and may work against blood-thinning medicines (6).

3. Reproductive problems

All soy products, including edamame, contain large quantities of plant estrogen such as isoflavones. Though the research is inconclusive and insufficient, some studies suggest that neonatal exposure to isoflavones can have negative effects on reproductive development later in life (7).

5. Fertility problems

Pregnant women are at risk of consuming genetically-modified soy instead of organic soy. Crops that are genetically-engineered may increase the risk of fertility problems and affect reproductive health. Genetically-modified and conventional soy receive herbicide treatment containing a substance called glyphosate, which may increase the risk of miscarriages (8) (9).

How Can You Eat Edamame When Pregnant?

Edamame is available in frozen form in most grocery and health food stores. You can buy shelled edamame or ones still in their pods. Here are some ways you can incorporate edamame in your meals during pregnancy.

  • Steam or boil edamame for 10 minutes in salted water. You can cook edamame in their pods or shell the beans. Remove from heat and once cool, you can enjoy a healthy snack with good fiber content.
  • Add cooked or raw edamame to your fresh salads, soups, pasta, and rice dishes.
  • Make a thick paste of raw edamame and mix it with avocado, artichoke, tomato or herbs such as mint to make healthy dips.
  • Add edamame to scrambled eggs and further fortify your dish with vegetables such as spinach, peppers, onion, broccoli and some cheese.
  • Mix edamame with roasted peanuts or other roasted legumes for a healthy protein-rich snack.

Edamame is loaded with proteins, carbohydrates, fiber, and several other vitamins and minerals. Eating a serving of edamame during pregnancy every day may provide you with adequate protein and folate. However, since edamame is a less mature soybean, its consumption may cause soy allergies or reproductive problems. If you are allergic to soybeans or soy products, talk to your doctor before consuming edamame. If your doctor asks you to avoid eating edamame during pregnancy, consume other sources of proteins such as kidney beans and lentils.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Edamame frozen prepared.
    https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168411/nutrients
  2. Soybeans and soy foods.
    https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/soybeans#health-benefits-of-soy-foods
  3. Nutrition During Pregnancy.
    https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/nutrition-during-pregnancy
  4. Healthy food trends – beans and legumes.
    https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000726.htm
  5. Folic Acid: the Vitamin That Helps Prevent Birth Defects.
    https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/1335/
  6. Blood Thinning Medications (Anticoagulants) and Cancer.
    https://pearlpoint.org/blood-thinning-medications-anticoagulants-and-cancer/
  7. Elsa C. Dinsdale and Wendy E. Ward; (2010); Early Exposure to Soy Isoflavones and Effects on Reproductive Health: A Review of Human and Animal Studies.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257624/
  8. New Study Finds GM Grains Harm Reproductive and Digestive Health.
    https://farmandranchfreedom.org/gmo-harms-reproductive-and-digestive-health/
  9. Medardo Avila-Vazquez et al.; (2018); Environmental exposure to glyphosate and reproductive health impacts in agricultural population of Argentina.
    https://www.gmwatch.org/en/106-news/latest-news/18245-argentine-study-links-glyphosate-herbicide-to-miscarriage-birth-defects
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Ria Saha

Ria is a techie-turned-writer and writes articles on health, with special emphasis on nutrition. She did her B.Tech from West Bengal University of Technology and was previously associated with IBM as SAP ABAP technical consultant. She moved into freelance content writing in 2013 and worked for various websites including MomJunction, Brainpulse Technologies, and Emarketz India.

Moloko Mehlape

(MSc Dietetics)
Moloko Mehlape is a registered dietitian in private practice with special interest in nutrition education, sports nutrition, weight and chronic disease management. She is a philanthropist passionate about making a positive impact in public health through nutrition. Dt. Mehlape has completed extensive formal education and training, and holds qualifications BSc Dietetics (Hons) - Medunsa, MSc Dietetics from the University of... more

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