The keto diet follows a very low-carb, high-fat eating pattern aimed at achieving weight loss or other health benefits.
Typically, strict versions of the diet forbid legumes given their generally higher carb contents.
While edamame beans are legumes, their unique nutritional profile may make you wonder whether they’re keto-friendly.
This article explores whether edamame can fit into your keto diet.
Maintaining ketosis on the keto diet
The ketogenic diet is very low in carbs, high in fat, and moderate in protein.
This eating pattern causes your body to switch into ketosis, a metabolic state in which your body burns fat — instead of carbs — to make ketone bodies and use them as fuel.
To do so, the ketogenic diet typically limits carbs to no more than 5–10% of your daily calorie intake or a maximum of about 50 grams per day.
For context, 1/2 cup (86 grams) of cooked black beans has 20 grams of carbs. Given that legumes like black beans are carb-rich food, they’re not considered keto-friendly.
You’ll need to sustain this low-carb intake to maintain ketosis. Getting too many carbs in your diet will flip your body back into carb-burning mode.
Those who follow the diet are attracted to its ability to cause rapid weight loss, as well as its association with other health benefits, such as improved blood sugar control and reduced seizures among those with epilepsy.
However, more research is needed on the long-term effects of the diet on overall health.
Summary: The keto diet is very low carb and fat-rich. It flips your body into ketosis, which is maintained with a carb intake of no more than 5–10% of your daily calorie intake. The diet has been linked to several health benefits.
Edamame is a unique legume
Edamame beans are immature soybeans that are typically steamed or boiled in their green shell.
They’re considered a legume, a category that also includes beans, lentils, and chickpeas. Legumes, including soy-based foods, are usually thought of as being too carb-rich to be part of a keto diet.
However, edamame beans are unique. They have ample amounts of dietary fiber — which helps compensate for their overall carb content.
This is because dietary fiber is a type of carb that your body doesn’t digest. Instead, it moves along your digestive tract and adds bulk to your stool.
A 1/2-cup (75-gram) serving of shelled edamame has 9 grams of carbs. Yet, when you subtract its 4 grams of dietary fiber, it yields just 5 grams of net carbs.
The term “net carbs” refers to the carbs that remain after subtracting dietary fiber from total carbs.
While edamame can be added to your keto diet, keep your portion size to a modest amount of 1/2 cup (75 grams) to help sustain ketosis.
Summary: Edamame beans are legumes, which are generally excluded from the keto diet. However, they’re high in dietary fiber, which helps compensate for some of the carbs. Modest portions of these beans are fine on a keto diet.
Not all preparations of edamame are keto-friendly
Various factors may influence edamame’s designation as keto-friendly. For instance, preparation is something to consider.
Edamame can be steamed, boiled, or fried — in or out of its pod. While its fuzzy outer pod is inedible, its bright-green beans are often shelled and eaten on their own.
Suggested read: Are lentils keto-friendly?
They can also be puréed or incorporated whole into a range of foods, like salads and grain bowls, which may or may not be keto-friendly.
Keep in mind that what you’re eating alongside your edamame will contribute to the number of carbs you’re getting in that meal. Taking this into account will aid your efforts to maintain ketosis.
The shells of edamame are often topped with salt, seasoned mixes, or glazes. These preparations, especially those that incorporate sugar or flour, may add to the overall carb count.
Summary: Not all preparations of edamame are keto-friendly. These beans can be added to dishes that take you over your keto carb limit or may be topped with carb-rich ingredients.
Why you should add edamame into your keto diet
There are many benefits to including edamame in your keto diet.
Edamame beans have a low glycemic index, which means they don’t spike your blood sugar like some other carbs might. This is due to their high fiber and protein contents.
A 1/2 cup (75 grams) of edamame packs 8 grams of protein, a nutrient that’s important for tissue repair and several other vital functions.
What’s more, edamame delivers other important nutrients, including iron, folate, vitamins K and C, and potassium, some of which may be lacking in a keto diet.
Suggested read: Is cottage cheese keto-friendly?
While folate is important for red blood cell formation, vitamin K aids proper clotting. Vitamin C is also crucial for health, specifically for its role in immune function and wound repair.
It can be hard to get enough micronutrients on a strict keto diet, as such a diet cuts out some vegetables, as well as many fruits and grains. In modest portions, edamame can be a great addition to your keto diet.
Summary: In modest portions, edamame can keep you in ketosis while delivering essential nutrients, such as fiber, iron, protein, folate, and vitamins C and K.
The keto diet is high in fat and very low in carbs. It flips your metabolism into ketosis, a state in which your body burns fat instead of carbs for fuel.
To maintain ketosis, your carb intake needs to remain very low — often 50 grams of carbs or less per day.
Typically, legumes are too carb-rich to be included in the keto diet. While edamame is a legume, its unique nutritional profile places it in a keto gray area.
While strict keto dieters may find its carb content too high, others may find that it can occasionally be included in their keto diet in modest portions.
Keep in mind that there are plenty of reasons to include edamame beans in a keto diet, such as their high fiber and protein contents. They also pack important vitamins and minerals that optimize your overall health.