Just tasted these at our farmers' market, and like them quite a bit more than the parboiled ones I've had before. Does anyone else prefer these raw? Is there some health/digestive reason to cook them?
Skipping the fancy name, you are talking Soybean. OK, there are different types of soybean, but like all beans, they grow in a pod, are edible young, can make an oil, and dry to something that can later be reconstituted.
The pod can offer more fiber than your digestive tract wants, but the beans are generally edible raw. Note though infants shouldn't eat the beans raw.
Cooking is done primarily because few people have access to fresh beans, and at limited times in the year. Oh, and wash them once shelled, even if organic.
Funny. We get edamame several times a year raw from Full Belly Farm in our CSA box. Accompanying the beans are instructions on how to prepare them....always starting with boil, etc.
According to The Book of Tofu, soybeans contain "anti-nutritional factors" which interfere with the body's utilisation of protein. The problem is eliminated by cooking. I would not make a habit of eating raw edamame.
There is tons of research that strongly asserts that eating raw soybeans (edamame) is not healthy and could even be deadly in large amounts.