June 16, 2024

Peas, also known as green peas or garden peas, are the tiny, round seeds of the Pisum sativum plant. Though commonly thought of as a vegetable, peas belong to the legume family, similar to beans, lentils, and peanuts.

Peas are highly nutritious, offering a concentrated source of plant-based protein, fiber, and other vitamins and minerals as well as protective plant compounds like antioxidants. Incorporating peas into your diet may benefit your health in several ways.

Eating foods rich in fiber is one of the most effective ways to improve the health of your gut. Fiber is essential for healthy digestion, including regular and comfortable bowel movements.

Peas are a rich source of fiber. They are composed of up to 65% fiber, including 10–15% insoluble fiber and 2–9% soluble fiber.

Soluble fiber encourages healthy blood sugar and blood lipid levels while promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Bacteria in your large intestine ferment soluble fiber, which produces compounds called short-chain fatty acids. These compounds benefit gut health by regulating intestinal inflammation, maintaining intestinal cells, and strengthening the gut lining.

Insoluble fiber has a laxative effect and helps increase the water content of stool, which can be especially helpful for people with constipation.

High-fiber diets have been shown to protect against gut-related health conditions such as colon cancer, diverticular disease, and constipation. Research shows people who follow higher fiber diets may have up to a 21% reduced risk of colon cancer compared to people with low fiber intake.

It’s recommended adult men and women under the age of 50 consume 38 and 25 grams (g) of fiber per day, respectively. Men and women over the age of 50 need about 30 and 21 g of fiber per day, respectively. However, the average American consumes just 15 g of fiber per day. 

Peas pack 8.8 g of fiber per cooked cup, making them an excellent option for boosting your daily fiber intake.

Peas are an excellent source of protein and fiber, both of which can help in feeling full and managing weight. Protein is the most filling macronutrient, as it helps slow digestion and promotes feelings of fullness after eating.

High-protein diets have been shown to be effective for promoting weight loss and encouraging optimal body weight maintenance. A review of 37 studies found participants who followed high-protein diets ranging from 18% to 59% energy from protein over periods of eight to 104 weeks lost an average of 3.5 more pounds compared to control groups.

Diets high in fiber may also help with weight loss. A study that included 345 people found fiber intake, independent of calorie and macronutrient intake, was the most influential predictor of weight loss over a six-month period.

Your diet plays a major role in keeping your heart healthy. Eating plenty of fiber-rich foods, like peas, can help reduce heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high blood lipid levels. 

A review that included 52 meta-analyses involving 47,197 participants found higher dietary fiber intake was associated with significant reductions in total and LDL cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

Another study that included data on 14,947 people found higher dietary fiber intake was associated with a lower long-term risk of developing heart disease, especially for participants aged 20 to 39 and 40 to 59.

Another recent review of 26 studies found people with the highest intake of legumes, such as peas, were 6% less likely to develop heart disease and 10% less likely to develop coronary heart disease (CHD) compared to people with the lowest intake of legumes.

Peas are also a rich source of magnesium, a mineral essential for blood pressure regulation. Some evidence suggests for every additional 100 milligram (mg) of dietary magnesium you consume per day, you could reduce the risk of high blood pressure by up to 5%.

High-fiber diets, such as those rich in high-fiber legumes, like peas, have been shown to protect against type 2 diabetes. Also, studies show high-fiber diets can help promote healthy blood sugar levels in people who already have diabetes.

A study that included 395 people with type 2 diabetes found higher dietary fiber intake was associated with lower hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), a marker of long-term blood sugar control. High fiber intake was also associated with higher levels of heart-protective HDL cholesterol, lower body weight, and smaller waist circumference.

Eating peas may protect against age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), which is an eye disease that can blur part of your vision. It’s currently the leading cause of vision loss in older adults. Peas are rich in the carotenoid pigments lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been shown to help protect against ARMD.

Peas are low in calories, but they are high in several vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. They’re also rich in fiber and plant-based protein. A one-cup serving of cooked peas includes:

  • Calories: 134
  • Fat: 0.35 g
  • Carbohydrates: 25 g
  • Fiber: 8.8 g
  • Protein: 8.58 g
  • Iron: 2.46 milligrams (mg) or 14% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Magnesium: 62.4 mg or 15% of the DV
  • Potassium: 434 mg or 9% of the DV
  • Zinc: 1.9 mg or 17% of the DV
  • Vitamin C: 22.7 mg or 25% of the DV
  • Folate: 101 micrograms (mcg) or 25% of the DV
  • B6: 0.346 mg or 20% of the DV
  • Vitamin K: 41.4mcg or 35% of the DV

Peas are packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals, but are especially high in vitamin C, folate, B6, vitamin K, zinc, magnesium, and iron.

All of these vitamins and minerals are essential to health and play critical roles in the body. For example, vitamin C is necessary for neurotransmitter and collagen production, regulating cholesterol levels, protecting cells against oxidative damage, controlling inflammation, enhancing the absorption of iron, and immune function.

Folate is involved in cellular division, DNA synthesis, and the maturation of red blood cells, which is why taking in enough folate is especially important during pregnancy.

In addition to vitamins and minerals, peas provide plant-based protein and fiber. Protein is important for growth and development, cellular repair, immune function, and many other processes within the body. Peas are an excellent source of plant-based protein, making them a smart choice for people following plant-based, vegetarian, or vegan diets.

Peas are also rich in health-promoting plant compounds, such as carotenoids. Carotenoids, including lutein and zeaxanthin, have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in the body and help protect against cellular damage that may otherwise lead to disease. 

Peas are generally safe to consume. However, it’s possible to be allergic to peas. A pea allergy can cause symptoms such as nausea, hives, diarrhea, and asthma. If you’re allergic to peas, you should avoid peas and all products containing them, including pea protein powder.

It’s also important to note peas contain antinutrients, including phytic acid and lectins. These compounds interfere with the absorption of certain nutrients, like iron.

However, cooking peas or using other preparation methods, such as soaking, can significantly reduce the antinutrient content of peas, making them safe to eat.

Most people eat cooked peas, but some types of peas, such as snap peas, can be enjoyed raw. Since raw peas are higher in antinutrients, they can be more difficult to digest than cooked peas and may cause digestive discomfort when consumed in large amounts. 

Peas have a sweet taste and soft texture that pairs well with many foods.

Here are a few ways to incorporate peas into your diet:

  • Enjoy cooked peas as a simple side dish with a drizzle of olive oil
  • Add peas to salads to boost the protein content
  • Roast peas in the oven or air fryer for a crunchy and nutritious snack; coat the peas with olive oil, salt, and pepper for flavor before roasting
  • Mix peas into dishes like pastas, grain bowls, and risotto 
  • Add peas to soups and stews
  • Smash cooked peas and combine them with olive oil, salt, and lemon juice and spread them on toast or crackers 
  • Keep peas in the freezer so you always have the nutritious ingredient ready to use

Peas are highly versatile and can be used in many other ways in the kitchen. They can be boiled, roasted, microwaved, or sautéed and are generally easy and quick to prepare.

Peas are available canned, dried, fresh, and frozen, making them a convenient and affordable option for those looking to add more nutritious foods to their diet. 

Peas are a nutritious type of legume rich in several nutrients, such as plant-based protein, fiber, folate, iron, and magnesium.

Because peas provide a number of essential nutrients, adding them to your diet could benefit your health in a number of ways, including lowering your risk of heart disease, supporting healthy digestion, and promoting weight loss. 

Peas are also easy to prepare and can be added to many of your favorite dishes to boost their nutrition content. 


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