Many people think green peas are just a poor man’s food or a cheap restaurant side-dish that puts ‘green’ on your plate. However, peas are really little powerhouses of nutrition that are a boon for your health and the whole planet.
“If you don’t like peas,it is probably because you have not had them fresh.It is the difference between reading a great book and reading the summary on the back”
― Lemony Snicket, Shouldn’t You Be in School?
“Research to date has shown the power of peas to have a role in many health benefits in humans, including epidemiological, in vitro, and interventional studies. One of these benefits includes cardiovascular health in controlling blood pressure cholesterol levels, particularly from the fiber content. Another benefit could improve weight management by satiety levels from the protein and fiber in peas” ~ North Dakota State University
Read all their benefits, how to use them properly, and some easy recipes. We start with the benefits of this tasty tasty superfood.
So, without further ado.
Health Benefits of Green Peas
1. Weight Management
They are low fat but high in everything else. A cup of peas has less than 100 calories but lots of protein, fiber, and micro-nutrients. Peas are an amazing source of plant-based protein which helps keep you feeling full longer.
2. Stomach & Other Cancer Prevention
Peas contain high amounts of a health-protective polyphenol called coumestrol. A study in Mexico City determined you only need 2 milligrams per day of this phytonutrient to prevent stomach cancer. A cup has at least 10 milligrams.
The saponins found in green peas may have therapeutic effects against several different types of cancers according to a 2009 review out of Canada.
3. Helps Anti-aging, Strong Immune System, and High Energy
This comes from the high levels of anti-oxidants including:
- flavinoids: = catechin and epicatechin
- carotenoid= alpha-carotene and beta-carotene
- phenolic acids = ferulic and caffeic acid
- polyphenols = coumestrol
They are great for the immune system as they provide vitamin c (40 milligrams per 100-gram serving) which studies show is beneficial for protecting against colds and flues and for fighting infection.
4. Prevention of Wrinkles, Alzheimer’s, Arthritis, Bronchitis, Osteoporosis, and Candida
These come from peas strong anti-inflammatory properties according to research. Excess inflammation has also been linked to, heart disease, cancer, and aging in general.
- Pisumsaponins I and II and pisomosides A and B are anti-inflammatory phytonutrients found almost exclusively in peas.
- vitamin C and vitamin E, and a good amount of the antioxidant mineral zinc
- omega-3 fat in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
5. Blood Sugar Regulation
A high fiber and protein diet slows down how fast sugars are digested and improves blood glucose response in people with type 2 diabetes according to a study.
All carbohydrates are natural sugars and starches with no white sugars or chemicals to worry about.
Peas may be associated with a lower risk of developing diabetes because of their low glycemic index, according to a review published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
6. Heart Disease Prevention
The many antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds support healthy blood vessels. The formation of plaque along our blood vessel walls starts with chronic, excessive oxidative stress and inflammation.
The generous amounts of vitamin B1 and folate, B2, B3, and B6 reduce homocysteine levels which are risk factors for heart disease.
Green peas have high fiber content which studies have shown to lower total cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol, which when elevated increase the risk of heart disease.
Peas are high in lutein, which acts like an antioxidant that protects your cells from oxidation. People who have higher intakes of lutein have lower rates of atherosclerosis studies show.
7. Healthy For the Environment
- They work with bacteria in the soil to ‘fix’ nitrogen from the air and deposit it in the soil. This reduces the need for artificial fertilizers since one of its main ingredients is nitrogen.
- Green peas are also able to grow on minimal moisture so they are a perfect crop in many areas not needing irrigation or using up valuable water supplies.
- After they have been harvested the remaining plant easily breaks down to create more organic fertilizer for the soil.
8. Prevents Constipation
The high fiber content in peas improves bowel health and peristalsis.
The addition of pea hull fiber to the diet increased stool frequency in elderly residents in one study.
9. Healthy Bones
Just one cup of green peas contains 44% of your Vitamin K which helps to anchor calcium inside the bones. It’s B vitamins also help to prevent osteoporosis.
10. Reduces Bad Cholesterol
The niacin in them helps reduce, the production of triglycerides and VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein, which results in less bad cholesterol, increased HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and lower triglycerides. Study results indicate that a diet rich in legumes decreases total and LDL cholesterol.
Peas contain a substance called purines. People, who have problems like kidney disorders or gout, should not have green peas. This is NOT a problem for everyone else without this situation.
One cup of peas only has 134 calories. They are a very good source of vitamin K, manganese, vitamin C, phosphorus dietary fiber, vitamin B1, copper, and folate. And much more, learn more at Nutrition Data.
Interesting Facts and History
- Although considered a vegetable green peas really are a fruit since they contain seeds developed from a flower.
- Green peas are the immature seed of dried peas often called field peas
- The dried ones have been eaten for over 5000 years and were a staple during the Middle Ages. The field ones were easy to grow and saved many from starving.
- The fresh green ones did not become popular until the 16 century.
- They have such high-quality protein that many commercial protein powders are starting to use it. This avoids the possible side effects of soy or dairy products. See Is Your Protein Powder Toxic?
- Canada is the largest producer of peas in the world!
“Peas baffled me. I could not understand why grown-ups would take things that tasted so good raw, and then put them in tins, and make them revolting.”
― Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane
How to Buy and Cook Peas
- The frozen ones retain their color and texture and nutritional content better than canned peas but of course fresh is even better.
- Dry peas (with 16 gms of protein per cup) have almost twice the protein contents as green peas and six times the protein content of the sugar snap pea.
- Both canned and frozen peas have a significant amount of sodium (from 300 to 600 milligrams per cup) due to processing methods. Therefore, make sure you rinse them well before using them or better yet…grow your own!
- When buying frozen ones, usually the “petite” brands will be less starchy and more flavorful. I personally always choose these.
- When buying or using fresh peas the fresher the better as the sugar content transforms into starch. Refrigerate them until use to slow down this process.
“How luscious lies the pea within the pod.” ~ Emily Dickinson
Delicious Green Pea Recipes
Easy Peasy Green Pea Soup Is Especially Delicious – This green pea soup really is yummy and it is a super easy soup to make. Hearing me say that frozen peas taste good is amazing; as I don’t even like to eat frozen ones. But this creamy green pea soup is really delicious and within a week I had it twice! What I think is the difference is that this is the first time I had organic frozen peas and I am sure they taste better. The other thing about this soup is that it is surprisingly hardy and very filling.
The other very good thing about this soup is that it is filled with healthy superfoods. The main ingredient is peas.
Chinese Vegetables: Here is my version of delicious Chinese vegetables which are vegan and gluten-free. This is a great dish to serve on the Chinese New Year or any day! I especially like the Chinese broccoli which is called gai lan which I get from a Chinese supermarket. Although I have been finding it in some other supermarkets.
Peas As A Side Dish: A tasty addition with a touch of Indian spice to add to any meal and simple too.
Steamed Vegetables: Did you know that broccoli was developed in Italy and is well known and one of the major anti-cancer foods. These healthy vegetables are easy to make.
Easy Creamy Peas: Many people think green peas are just a poor man’s meat or a cheap restaurant side-dish that puts ‘green’ on your plate. However, peas are really little powerhouses of nutrition that are a boon for your health and the whole planet.
Fresh Quick Pea Soup Recipe: How about a quick peas soup for lunch? Yes, this is a very quick, delicious soup that is nutritious too. All of the ingredients in this soup are healthy. Get all of the health benefits of this tasty superfood.
Learn more about some of the healthiest vegetables and fruits for vegans and vegetarians that you will always want to have in your fridge or pantry
READ: Superfoods – Over 100 of the Healthiest Foods You Should Have in Your Diet and learn more about the variety of Superfoods we think you should have in your diet.