Whether you’re trying to lose a few pounds or just eat healthier, finding a decent snack can be difficult. Thankfully, there’s a delicious option that will fit in with pretty much any diet or lifestyle: edamame.
You’re probably used to chomping on these soybeans with your sushi at Japanese restaurants, but they have so many benefits that will convince you to keep the little green pods stocked in your home, too.
First off, they’re gluten free, low in calories, have zero cholesterol, and are packed with tons of protein, iron, and calcium. Need more convincing? How about the fact that a study from 2015 found that consuming soy isoflavones can improve cognitive function, especially after menopause. According to the University of Oregon, you can get 16 miligrams of soy isoflavones from just half a cup of edamame, which is nearly twice as much as you’d get from a full cup of soy milk.
Speaking of menopause, a 2016 review of studies showed that the soy isoflavones in edamame can prevent bone loss brought on by “the change.” A study from 2017 also claimed that it helped women with other common symptoms including hot flashes, depression, and irritability.
It’s not just women going through menopause who might find their mood boosted after snacking on edamame, though. The beans contain folate, which studies have shown to prevent high levels of a substance called homocysteine from building up and interfering with the production of serotonin (the “feel-good” hormone). The iron found in each pod helps ward off low energy levels that can bring you down, too.
Harvard Medical School published another impressive account just last year. According to their research, consuming 25 grams of soy protein a day over a six-week period lowered the bad cholesterol levels of participants by three and four percent — a “small but significant amount.” Edamame contains 17 grams of that protein in one cup, so adding a bit more for a daily snack can definitely help chip away at cholesterol for those looking to lower their number.
And if all of that scientific mumbo jumbo wasn’t enough to convince you, there’s one more important factor: They taste great! The subtle flavor of edamame on its own is nice, but you can also use it as a vehicle for countless combinations of spices. Plus, they can add a nice texture to salads and other fresh side dishes. You can buy them fresh to enjoy right away or frozen to pop in the microwave whenever you want a snack.
The next time you head the grocery store, we recommend adding a bag or two of this delightful legume to your cart!
This article originally appeared on our sister site, WomansWorld.com.