Is Edamame Keto-Friendly?

Imge of Is Edamame Keto-Friendly?



In this article we will explore the popular bean edamame. Though the overwhelming majority of this product is used for animal feed today, it has been popular in some countries’ cuisines for millenia. The beans as well as their derivative products are a hallmark of many Chinese and Asian kitchens.

However, is edamame keto-friendly? On keto, we are usually told to reduce consumption of grains and legumes due to their moderate to high carbohydrate content. Is this food an exception to the rule?

This article will display and analyze the nutritional properties of these snacks so you can be richly informed on how to best incorporate this food into your keto diet. 


What is edamame?

This name refers to immature soybeans still in their pods. Soybeans are a part of the legume family and are extremely popular the world over. There are a host of popular foods other than the whole bean that are made from soybeans. These include tofu, miso, soy sauce, natto tempeh and protein isolates.

While shrouded in antiquity, the original domestication of this plant seems to have occurred in China, with cultivation moving on to other Asian countries as time passed. Generally, soybeans and their derivatives are associated with Chinese and Asian cuisine, though they have clearly made inroads into western cultures as well. The first mention of soybean cultivation in Europe was in the late 1700s.

This food is usually available in the frozen section of supermarkets and health stores. They tend to still be in their pods, though they can also be found shelled.


Nutrition facts for edamame

The nutrition information below is for 75 grams, which is just over ½ cup.

Serving size: 75 g edamame

  • Calories - 81.8 kcal
  • Fat - 3.6 g 
  • Net carbs (total carbs - fiber) - 2.1 g
  • Total carbs - 5.7 g
  • Fiber - 3.6 g
  • Protein - 8.4 g

Just looking at the macronutrients, what we see here is a foodstuff rich in protein and fiber with moderate amounts of fat. In terms of net carbohydrates, 2.1 g per serving is surprisingly low for a legume, suggesting that, yes, edamame is keto-friendly.

But it doesn't stop there, these snacks are also a great source of the minerals iron, copper and manganese. Iron is absolutely essential for critical functions, such as oxygen transport in the blood and oxygen storage in muscle, as well as being a component for many important enzymes involved in energy production from food and immune function.

With regards to vitamins, this foodis an excellent source of folate as well as a good source of Vitamin K.

Please look at the table below to see how the nutrient scores for one serving compare with the RDA or recommended daily amount.

Vitamin/Mineral Men / Women (age 19-50) RDA In 75g of edamame As a % of RDA for Men / Women
Iron 8 / 18 mg per day 1.58 mg 19.8% / 8.8%
Folate 400 mcg  per day 227.25 mg 56.8%
Vitamin K 120 / 90 mcg per day 23.55 mcg 19.6% / 26.2%


All in all, we have here a very nutrient-dense food with an acceptable net carb score per portion; this tells us that edamame is keto-friendly, definitely.




Can you eat edamame on a keto diet?

The short answer is yes, you can have this on keto! This legume is very rich in macro and micronutrients as well as having a reasonably low net carb score; only 2.1 g per 75 g serving, so edamame is keto-friendly.

Even if on a strict keto diet of 25 g of net carbohydrates per day, one portion of this nutritious foodstuff will only cost you 8.4% of your allowance.

The tricky bit though is the preparation and/or what else you are eating it with on keto. If eating with another carb food, be mindful that it does all add up. Also be aware that adding sauces or marinades to this product will greatly increase the net carbohydrate score as these are often loaded with refined carbs. 

The best way is to go natural, with a dash of olive oil and a generous sprinkling of spices. Go easy on the salt though, as this is one seasoning you do not want to overeat.


How much can you eat on the keto diet?

It is uncommon to eat more than one serving per day on keto. One 75 g portion will come at a cost of 2.1 g of net carbohydrates, a relatively paltry sum considering the amount of nutrition you are receiving. 

If you want to indulge further, a 100 g portion would still be okay for keto, totalling at 2.8 g net carbs.

And if you love this food, a double serving (150 g) is still under 5 g of net carbohydrates. At this stage you are likely to be eating this as a complete side dish to a meal.

If eating a snack, however, it may be advisable to stick to one serving per day, as every little bit adds up.


What kind of edamame can you have on keto?

The raw beans need minimal processing to render them edible. They are usually bought frozen, either shelled or still encased in their pods. However, there are various other product derivatives, each with a distinct process and ingredients, that you can consume on the keto diet. Here are just a few:

  • Crunchy roasted and salted - these are often low in net carbs and hence acceptable.
  • Crunchy roasted, buffalo flavor - these are the same brand as above but with a buffalo wing flavor. Just 3 g of net carbohydrates per 30 g portion is okay on keto, but make sure to measure your portion.
  • Crunchy roasted, sriracha flavor -  these are the 3rd flavor in the Only Bean brand and also only cost 3 g of net carbs per 26 g serving.
  • Edamame spaghetti - a 56 g serving has 7 g of net carbohydrates. This is a lot higher than the unprocessed beans, but one portion for one meal per day is still keto-friendly. 




What can you eat edamame with on keto?

This bean can be enjoyed on keto in a variety of ways:

  • After cooking or steaming, on their own straight out of the pods, salted and/or spiced
  • Thrown into salads
  • In stir fries
  • As a crumb for flaky fish
  • Blended into soups


Keto-friendly edamame alternatives

There are a few legumes which can compete with this foodstuff both in terms of nutrient density and low net carbohydrate score:

  • Broad beans or fava beans -  these share some similarities to edamame in color and shape, though they are much larger. One 75 g serving of these will come at a cost of 7.6 g of net carbs. As a side, this would be acceptable to eat on keto on condition you are mindful of any additional carbs in the meal. It is also important to consider how you cook them; most ideal is with a dash of olive oil and some natural spices. Stay away from processed sauces and marinades as these often contain extra carbohydrate.
  • Kidney beans (canned) - though not nearly as nutritious as edamame, red kidney beans are high in fiber as well as being a source of B vitamins, iron, and potassium. At 7.7 g net carbs per 75 g portion, again these can be incorporated into your keto meal plan provided a mindful approach to eating is employed; ensuring you don’t breach your net carbohydrate target.
  • Green (snap) beans - these sleek and slender beans have a high water content, low calorie score and are a good source of vitamins C and K. The net carb total for a 75 g serving is just 3.2 g, making it a truly great alternative on keto.


FAQ about whether edamame is keto-friendly

The section below gives answers to 6 frequently asked questions revolving around the nutritional properties and the consumption of this food on a keto diet. 

Yes it is! Edamame is the name given for the pods of soybeans that are harvested when the plant is still young, green and immature. Soybeans are the name of the mature beans.

Indeed it is! This is an excellent source of protein providing 8.4 g per 75 g portion. Moreover, it is a complete protein, meaning it contains all the 9 essential amino acids required by our bodies. This is a rare characteristic for a plant foodstuff.

With 3.6 g of fat per 75 g serving, this does not quite classify as a low-fat foodstuff (that would have to be less than 3 g fat per serving), but it is still relatively low. The fats present are predominantly unsaturated fatty acids, consisting of both mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

There is some talk in the literature that certain compounds in soy known as isoflavones mimic the hormone estrogen and can have feminizing effects on men. Among the reported effects are the growth of man boobs, lowered testosterone levels, and decreased fertility.

However, most of these studies are flawed or merely animal studies with no robust controlled trials in humans showing these effects. 

At this moment in time, it would seem that upon critical review of the evidence, soy and edamame are considered absolutely safe for men to consume.

The glycemic index for canned soya beans is just 14, a very low GI foodstuff. Other sources give the figure for edamame beans at 18.

Remember that GI is measured by eating 50 g of carbohydrate from test food and testing the blood sugar response compared to pure glucose. However in a 75 g portion you are only eating 2.1 g of carbohydrates, so a more accurate index is the glycemic load which takes into account the amount of carbs eaten in a serving. In this case if we convert the glycemic index of 18 to glycemic load we get 0.378. This is very low and should hardly have an impact on blood sugar.  

While eating this food on keto, try seasoning it with:

  • cumin
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • garlic
  • ginger
  • grated parmesan
  • lemon or lime juice
  • red pepper flakes
  • sea salt
  • sesame seeds
  • sesame oil
  • soy sauce
  • pepper


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