Soy But Not Soy
Technically, edamame is soy, and since soy is not Paleo-friendly, you might be confused to see edamame in the “maybe” category. It’s not strictly Paleo, but that doesn’t mean we have to run screaming every time someone orders a bowl of edamame at a sushi restaurant.
The Fat Profile
To start with, the fat contained in edamame is mostly monounsaturated fat, which is good because that type of fat is much more stable than the polyunsaturated fats found in soy. Not that stability is a big issue with edamame. Most people aren’t grinding it up and frying it. Instead, all they need is a light steam before serving, leaving the fats intact.
One of the reasons we avoid soy is for its high levels of phytoestrogens, a compound that can inhibit the uptake of estrogen by blocking receptor sites. Since our hormones play an extremely important role in all aspects of our health, including metabolism, we generally recommend avoiding anything that interferes with that system. Although edamame does have some phytoestrogens, the levels they contain are much lower than those found in mature soybeans.
Mark Sisson gave a number of reasons why we don’t need to worry about edamame as an occasional snack.