Whole Soybeans

Whole soybeans appear as raw, dry, roasted nuts, and canned beans in today’s market. The large variety of soybeans permits soyfoods manufacturers to select the bean with the most appropriate color, flavor, texture, size, and nutrient content for their products.

In the Market

Dried yellow soybeans are most commonly available, but the immature green soybean edamame, and all forms of roasted soynuts, are growing in popularity. Black varieties of soybeans may also be found.

Dry soybeans are the mature seeds born in pods and are tan in color. The dry beans are available in natural food stores and select supermarkets, often sold in bulk bins or bagged. Cooked yellow soybeans come in 15-ounce cans in natural food stores and supermarkets. The flavor of this type of soybean is quite mild.

Edamame (pronounced ay-dah-MAH-may) are soybeans harvested at a fresh green stage (eighty percent maturity). They have a larger seed size, and are more oval in shape than either yellow or black soybeans. American-grown edamame is available in the pod or shelled in the frozen food and produce sections of an increasing number of natural food stores, Asian markets and traditional supermarkets. During harvest in early fall, fresh edamame is available. Edamame are buttery and sweet with a naturally- high sugar content, different from yellow and black soybeans. They are very easy to prepare.

Black soybeans are a variety of small round black soybeans grown for use as dry beans. Black soybeans have a rich, distinctive flavor that melds well in many recipes. They are available in 15 or 8.5-ounce cans in natural food stores and supermarkets.

Roasted soybeans, also known as soynuts, are roasted whole soybeans. They may be oil roasted or dry roasted. Soy nuts are available plain, salted or in a variety of other flavors. They are available in bulk or packages and found in natural food stores, supermarkets, and carryout stores. Roasted soybeans are also used to make soy nut butter, available in creamy or crunchy, a tasty alternative to peanut butter.

Retail Suppliers

  • American Soy Products – Eden Foods black and yellow dry soybeans
  • Bright Future Foods – Ma Me’s! Ready-to-eat Edamame
  • Hain Celestial Group, Inc. – Hain Ready-to-Eat soybeans
  • ND LABS INC – dry roasted soynut halves
  • SunRich Food Group – edamame, sweet green beans, roasted soynuts
  • Worthington Foods, Inc./Kellogg’s – Natural Touch sweet green beans

Give Me Five

  1. Make 3-Bean Chili or homemade minestrone soup using canned black soybeans, canned yellow soybeans or green sweet beans and kidney beans along with other traditional chili ingredients.
  2. Add shelled edamame to mixtures of steamed vegetables and flavor with garlic, olive oil, and spices.
  3. Serve warm, steamed edamame (green soybeans in the whole pod) as an appetizer at your next party and enjoy popping the green soybeans from the pod!
  4. Make homemade trail mix higher in protein by mixing honey-roasted soy nuts and chocolate-covered soy nuts in with the whole-grain cereal, raisins and other dried fruit.
  5. Sprinkle roasted salted or wasabi-flavored soy nuts with vegetables when stir-frying Asian meals.

In the Kitchen

When cooking dry soybeans, pick over beans, rinse and drain, then soak before cooking. One cup (1/2 pound) of dry soybeans will expand to equal about 2 1/4 – 2 1/2 cups cooked. Fresh soybeans will keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator and several months in the freezer.

Whole soybeans need to be pre-soaked. For a long soak, use 3 cups of water for each cup of beans. Soak 8 hours or overnight at room temperature. Long soak method produces beans with smooth skins. For shorter soaks, use 3 cups of water for each cup of beans and bring water to a boil in a large pan for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and allow the beans to stand for 1 hour.

Put drained and rinsed soaked beans in a large pot, using 3 cups of fresh water for each cup of beans. Bring water to boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook beans for about 2 1/2 – 3 hours. Do not add salt or acidic ingredients such as tomatoes or molasses to beans before they are almost entirely cooked, as salt and acids harden the beans skins.

If a pressure cooker is used, place presoaked (8-12 hours soaked), drained and rinsed beans in a pressure cooker. Add 4 cups of water plus 2 tablespoons of cooking oil for the first cup of beans, 3 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil for each additional cup of beans (oil controls foaming). Do not fill the cooker above the halfway mark! Cook with fifteen pounds of pressure for 9 to 12 minutes. Quick release pressure by placing cooker under cold running water. Drain immediately.

Nutrition Highlights

Soybeans are naturally an excellent source of high quality soy protein, isoflavones, dietary fiber, potassium, folic acid, and other essential vitamins and minerals. Soybeans are a good source of essential fatty acids and contain no cholesterol and little or no saturated fat. Important bio-active components, including isoflavones in soybeans, are being studied in relationship to relieving menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, maintaining healthy bones, and preventing prostate, colorectal, and breast cancers.

Soybeans supply protein that provides all the essential amino acids needed for growth, similar to animal protein. In addition to its quality, scientists have found that soy protein may help reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol and increasing the flexibility of blood vessels. The FDA has approved a health claim stating that “25 grams of soy protein in a daily diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol can help reduce total and LDL cholesterol that is moderately high to high.”


Green soybeans½ c cooked %Daily Value Mature/yellow  soybeans ½ c cooked %Daily Value Soy nuts¼ c plain %Daily Value
Calories 127 148 194
Total Fat 6g 9% 8 12% 9 g 14%
Saturated Fat 0.5g 3% 0 0% 1 g 5%
Total Carbo-hydrates 10g 3% 8 2% 14 g 5%
Protein 11g 22% 14 28% 17 g 34%
Cholesterol 0mg 0% 0 0% 0mg 0%
Sodium 13mg 1% 0 0% 1 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 4g 16% 6 24% 4 g 16%
Calcium 130mg 13% 88 8% 60 mg 6%
Potassium 485mg 14% 442 12% 587 mg 17%
Phosphorus 142mg 14% 210 22% 279 mg 28%
Folate 100 mcg 25% 46 mcg 12 % 88 mcg 22%
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 17
Average Total Isoflavones 49 mg 24mg 55 mg
Source: USDA-Iowa State University Database on the Isoflavone Content of Foods- 1999, USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service.
Exchanges  1 protein/1 starch  •  2 protein/1 starch  •  2 protein/2 starch
Source: Exchange List for Meal Planning, 2nd edition, 2002.
The American Diabetes Association / The American Dietetic Association

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