Green peas, also known as garden peas are very popular and very cheap that we take them for granted. Many don’t know that green peas are one of the superfoods we have on the planet.
They are highly nutritious and have a good amount of antioxidants and fiber. Studies have even shown that they protect against cancer and other chronic diseases.
This post takes a deep look into the health benefits of green peas and how we can use them to improve our health.
What are Green Peas?
Green peas are small spherical seeds from the pods of the Pisul sativum plant. They are green in color and from the legumes family. Many people think peas are vegetables but strictly speaking, they are not.
Green peas have high amount of complex starches and that is why they are considered as a starchy vegetable and are placed in the class of squash, corn, and potatoes.
Green peas have been part of man’s diet for hundreds of years and they are consumed all over the world till date. They are cooked and sold as vegetable. You can find them canned, frozen, or fresh.
To get the most benefits out of green peas, go for the fresh ones.
There are many varieties of peas: we have the white peas, black-eyed peas, purple peas, yellow peas, and the green peas which this post focuses on.
Green peas are the most common variety and the most frequently used/consumed.
Snow peas and snap peas are commonly confused with green peas because they have similar appearance but their nutrients and flavor differ slightly.
The Nutritional Profile of Green Peas
The nutritional profile of green peas is very impressive. They have low calories, and many nutrients and antioxidants your body needs. Every vitamin and mineral your body needs is in peas. It also has fiber which is very important.
Half cup of peas (that is 170 grams) has the following nutrients:
- 62 calories
- 11 grams of carbs
- 4 grams of fiber
- 4 grams of proteins
- 34% of the RDI of vitamin A
- 24% of the RDI of vitamin K
- 13% of the RDI of vitamin C
- 15% of the RDI of thiamine
- 12% of the RDI of folate
- 11% of the RDI of manganese
- 7% of the RDI of iron
- 6% of the RDI of phosphorous
The high protein content of green peas makes it unique from other vegetables. For instance, 170 grams of cooked carrots (half cup) contains just 1 gram of proteins while 170 grams (half cup) of cooked peas contains 4 times the protein in carrot.
The rich contents of polyphenols and antioxidants in green peas are believed to be the reasons for their immense health benefits.
Health Benefits of Green Peas
A good source of protein and they easily satisfy one
One of the best sources of plant-based proteins is green peas. The rich protein and fiber content of this superfood is the reason why it is so filling and satisfying.
Consuming proteins increases the levels of certain hormones in your body, and this, in turn, would reduce appetite. Protein and fiber work together to slow down digestion and promote a feeling of satiety.
Vegetarians will benefits from green peas since they don’t eat animal proteins. However, green peas lack the amino acid methionine while animal proteins have that.
To get more essential amino acids, pair your green peas with other source of proteins to make up for the deficiency as it is not a complete protein.
Proteins have many important functions in the body like promoting bone health, muscle strength, maintaining healthy weight, and many others.
Improves bone health
The minerals and vitamins in this superfood protect your bone from thinning and fractures. It is also dense in vitamin K, a vitamin which ensures bone mineralization.
This is helpful to menopausal women as they have high risks of bone problems.
Green peas contain zeaxanthine and carotenoids. These nutrients protect your eyes from damages and diseases like macular degeneration.
They also filter harmful blue light that is responsible for eye problems like cataracts and macular degeneration.
Supports healthy pregnancy
Green peas are rich in folate and this natural folate is superior to the synthetic folic acid pregnant women are given.
One cup of green peas gives a pregnant woman her 25% of DRI of folate and makes pregnancy easy.
Promote healthy blood sugar levels
Green peas have low glycemic index (GI). GI is a measure of how quickly the level of sugar rises in your blood after eating a food. Food/diet with low GI is helpful for diabetic patients because it regulate blood sugar.
Fiber and proteins, which are present abundantly in green peas is also helpful in controlling blood sugar. Fiber slows down the rate at which your body absorbs carbohydrates.
This, in turn, will lead to a slower and more stable rise in the levels of blood sugar. Low GI foods do not cause a spike in sugar levels while high GI food does.
Studies have even found green peas helpful for people with type II diabetes.
Green pea is a good source of iron and this mineral prevents anemia caused by iron-deficiency. If you are at risk of this condition, a good way to help yourself is to take moderate amounts of peas.
Iron also increases energy and play many other vital roles in the body.
The fiber in green peas boosts digestion and improves your digestive health in so many ways. Fiber is a prebiotic, it serves as food for the helpful bacteria (probiotics) in your gut.
This strengthens your immune system, and prevents the bad microbes from multiplying and causing disease. This also reduces your risks of digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and even cancer of the colon.
The important thing about the fiber in green peas is that it is insoluble. It cannot mix with water, thereby, it acts like a bulking agent in your digestive tract.
This ensures you have regular bowel movement and reduces your risks of constipation.
Boosts skin health
Green peas contain an excellent amount of vitamin C and this nutrient is used to make collagen. Collagen keeps your skin firm, glowing, and youthful.
Vitamin C also protects your skin cells and entire body from free radicals. Phytochemicals like carotenoid, catechin, flavonoid, alpha carotene, and epicatechin prevents skin aging.
Protects against chronic diseases
Studies have demonstrated that green peas have therapeutic effects on diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. They contain minerals that prevent high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease.
The high fiber in green peas reduces cholesterol and eliminates bad ones from the body. High cholesterol is also a risk factor for heart disease.
Antioxidants also reduce the risks of strokes and heart disease by preventing damages to the blood vessels.
The antioxidants also protect you against cancer. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and saponins. This phytochemical has a strong anti-cancer effect and inhibits tumor growth.
Improves men’s reproductive health
Green peas increase sperm motility and sperm count. The phytochemicals in green peas strengthen sperm and increase their ability to meet and fertilize an egg.
How to Consume Green Peas
Due to the antinutrients found in peas, you need to eat them in a certain way to reduce the adverse effects of the antinutrients. Below are some of the ways you can consume greens.
Consume reasonable sizes
Most people need just 1/3 to (117 grams) ½ cup (170 grams) of green peas at a time. They can only cause trouble when you go above this range.
Know the preparation method that suits you
There are many ways of preparing green peas to reduce the antinutrients in them. Examples are soaking, sprouting, and fermenting.
Eat green peas cooked
Raw peas have higher levels of antinutrients than cooked peas. So, after soaking or fermenting, cook your peas to prevent digestive discomfort.
If you want to benefit from green peas, then make them a regular part of your diet, but in little amount. In this way your body will get use to digesting them.
This will reduce the uncomfortable symptoms many experience like bloating.
The Side Effects Of Green Peas
Well, despite the immense health benefits of green peas, they have a downside. They contain antinutrients. These are compounds found in plant foods that interfere with the digestion and absorption of nutrients.
The 2 most common antinutrients found in green peas are: lectins and phytic acid. Lectins because bloating, gas, and can even interfere with the absorption of nutrients. Phytic acid interferes with the absorption of minerals.
However, the levels of antinutrients in peas are lower than those in legumes. So they are less likely to cause any problem if you eat them occasionally.
If you are allergic to legumes, you might be allergic to peas. You know this when you notice some discomforts after taking peas. Examples are tingling of the tongue or mouth, wheezing, and swelling of the face, throat, or eyes.
When next you see green peas or you are eating green peas, you know the amazing effect it will have on your body.
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- Peas and antinutrients NCBI, NCBI, NCBI, NCBI, WOL.