Due to the health and fitness industry evolving rapidly, people forget about naturally grown foods that contain a multitude of health benefits. Most people are now looking for the next new supplement, medicine or treatment to achieve a healthy diet, stay on trend with the health crazes or even to help on-going medical conditions.
Today, we are scrapping that idea and going back to basics with green peas.
When most people think of snow peas or green peas, they think of a food grown in the countryside. With over 35,000 hectares of green peas grown every year in the UK alone, there’s certainly no shortage of them and that countryside thought process is definitely the truth.
However, green peas seem to be a food that you’d only eat with your dinner on the odd occasion if you have to. It may even be a food you push to the side and leave. After reading this and finding out the 12 incredible health benefits of green peas, you might just change your mind.
Seeing as green peas are a superfood easy to grow yourself with great health benefits, here is more on their manufacturing process and their long history:
What makes green peas stand out: Green peas nutrition
Garden peas are a food that can be eaten on any diet. With the ever growing upwards curve of gluten free, dairy free and meat free diets and intolerances, being able to achieve health benefits from a naturally grown food, like green peas, is great for today’s complex and ever changing diet requirements.
Green peas have still not been given a home origin as data has not yet determined where they first grew. Green peas have been consumed for hundreds of years all over the world. They are known as being one of the oldest crops and are considered most popular in East Asian cuisines.
Although peas are considered by some as a vegetable or legume, they are also considered a fruit as they contain seeds. The pea pods are the part that contains seeds. Those ‘seeds’ are in fact, the individual green peas, which grow on a pea flower.
Before planting, it is recommended to soak the peas overnight to improve germination. The next day, plant the seeds just over one inch deep into soil at around two inches apart from one another. Then, watch your green peas grow into flower-like plants. The growth can take anywhere from 60 to 80 days.
Green peas are generally grown in the spring time so that the ground is still moist but unthawed after the winter season. Temperatures should be at least 7 degrees celsius before planting them to ensure good growth. Peas are grown best in temperatures between 21 and 27 degrees celsius. Always make sure to keep the ground moist and plant them in a sunny spot.
Once grown, green peas hold much nutritional value. Although not the lowest calorie snack or side dish, green peas are high in dietary fibre and protein. Half a cup contains around 62 calories, 4 grams of fibre and 4 grams of protein. For such a small amount of peas, this is a great amount of other powerful nutritional values. A similar portion of cooked carrots for example only contain 1 gram of protein.
The reason green peas are higher in calories than other similar vegetable dishes is because around 70% of its calories are made up of carbohydrates. But do not see this as a bad thing. Carbohydrates are important for the body to heal and deal with weight management.
The combination of high carbohydrates, fibre and protein are what make green peas an amazing plant based food for dieting.
Not only do green peas contain many essentials such as vitamins and minerals, are high in protein and are an essential crop, they have many health benefits:
What are the main health benefits of green peas?
Discover the real 12 proven health benefits of peas :
1 – Weight management
Plant based foods are a new trend that have taken off in the health and diet industry due to their many health benefits. However, most do not hold as many health benefits or great nutritional value.
Green peas are considered one of the most powerful plant based foods there are in comparison to how little of the food you need to reap the benefits. It is high in protein and high protein foods are perfect for weight management as they slow down digestion and help you feel fuller for longer. Eating a high protein diet can reduce your appetite, make you eat less and result in weight loss.
In a 2008 study, professionals found that eating a high protein diet can increase thermogenesis which is a process that influences energy expenditure, therefore results in the body burning more calories.
Here is a quick comparaison between Whey Protein and Pea Protein :
2 – Anti-aging effects
Green peas have a high antioxidant content, consisting of flavonoids and polyphenols, both of which have anti-aging effects. Studies suggest that polyphenols contain chemopreventive properties that can prevent UV induced skin damage. The consumption of polyphenols can reduce aging by improving the skin’s natural defense of oxidative stress, one of the most common causes of aging prematurely.
Flavonoids on the other hand work to absorb UV light to regulate the pathways in your skin that influence the cellular function. This process prevents photoaging and premature skin damage.
3 – Anti-inflammatory properties
Eating a good amount of green peas can provide great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Due to their high antioxidant content, the plant based food has inflammation fighting properties. The four anti-inflammatories found inside are almost exclusive to green peas known as phytonutrients. These include Pisum Saponins I and II and pisomosides A and B, which are substances found in certain plants known to fight off particular health conditions. Studies suggest that saponins found in green peas have a long history of fighting inflammation caused disease.
Excess inflammation can cause diseases and health issues such as premature aging, cancers, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, bronchitis and osteoporosis. Therefore, the anti-inflammatory properties found in green peas are highly beneficial to help inhibit or fight these inflammation diseases.
4 – Helps regulate blood sugar levels
This legume can help with blood sugar control in those with diabetes or high blood sugar in general. Eating green peas fibre and protein content can naturally reduce blood sugar levels. Most foods make blood sugar levels spike after eating, how green peas have a low glycemic index help regulate the blood sugar levels, even after eating them.
They are also high magnesium, potassium and other minerals, which are good for the heart and inhibiting high blood pressure. Green peas contain a high amount of antioxidants, which are great at preventing cell damage that can lead to high blood pressure.
5 – Aids digestion
High fiber diets are known to improve digestion. Fiber is necessary for the intestines and keeps them balanced. The bacteria in your gut naturally searches for fiber to feed off, therefore this acts as a great tool to make sure only good bacteria exists in your stomach. Green peas also contain insoluble fiber, which acts as a bulking agent in the body and helps move food along, making digestion easier.
It is important to not consume too many green peas as this can cause bloating issues. The antinutrient content can sometimes have reverse effects and slow down digestion, if you consume too many or too often. A study suggests that the antinutrient, lectin that is found in green peas, is the main issue here as it can inhibit nutrient consumption. The overconsumption will not affect all people but it is important to keep this in mind.
6 – Helps support a strong immune system
Antioxidants are a key support for your immune system, to keep it strong and healthy. They help counteract oxidative stress and act as a barrier for free radicals. This helps protect your cells and in turn prevent inflammation illnesses.
Carotenoids are one of the vital antioxidants present in green peas. They are the pigment that grows inside the legume and once consumed, they turn into vitamin A. Although you can purchase vitamin A supplements that can offer the same benefits for your immune system, it’s best and a cheaper alternative to consume them in the natural form regularly. So adding green peas into your diet is a simple and effective way of supporting your immune system.
Have a look on our complete foods list to improve your Immune system
7 – Provides you with energy
Although most foods provide you with energy, there are only a certain few that work effectively as a maintainable energy resource. Due to the high fiber and protein content present in green peas, they provide a slow release of energy. Just half a cup of green peas can provide you with a sustainable amount of energy and if eaten alongside other energy providing foods, the more energy you will gain.
The vitamin A content in green peas is considerably high in comparison to its size and this vitamin is essential for energy. Scientists suggest that vitamin A, found in green peas, increases adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels, which are the tiny molecules that fuel the body.
8 – Reduces the risk of heart disease
Heart disease begins due chronic stress and oxidative inflammation, which creates a wall of plaque along blood vessels. This can be significantly reduced with a daily intake of B vitamins, which is found in green peas.
Many legumes can help improve heart health but the reason green peas are so effective is because of their vitamin content. Heart disease is common when there is a high level of homocysteine present. A 2009 scientific study shows that green peas can reduce homocysteine, reducing the risk of heart disease.
9 – Healthy for you as well as the environment
Not only are peas healthy for you and your body, they are healthy for the environment. When peas grow, they take in the nitrogen in the air which is then added to the soil. This reduces the need for synthetic fertilisation and one of the main fertilisers is nitrogen. This makes the peas healthy and safe due to minimal impact when growing and harvesting. Another benefit of this is that the peas need minimal water to grow, so they won’t use up valuable resources.
When the peas are harvested this natural fertiliser stays in the soil and helps new peas begin their growth cycle. This benefit is essential for having a healthy cycle of food and nourishment for you as well as the earth.
10 – Helps with slow bowel movement
It has been scientifically proven that fiber rich foods can help with constipation, which green peas are. Soluble fiber adds bulk and softness to the stool as it absorbs water from foods and binds with fatty acids, making it easier to go to the toilet.
The American Dietetic Association recommends eating around 25 grams of dietary fiber per day for women, and up to 38 grams for men to maintain regular bowel movements. Green peas contain 4 grams of fiber per half cup, which is a substantial amount of fiber if you consume that or a full cup from just one low calorie food.
11 – Provides vitamins for healthy bones
For such a small sized legume, green peas contain a tonne of essential vitamins, one of those being vitamin K. One cup contains around 44% of your daily recommended dose of vitamin K. This vitamin works with calcium to build stronger bones. Vitamin K can help prevent bone diseases such as osteoarthritis.
In a 2012 study, one hip fracture risk women, those who took up to 109 micrograms of vitamin K per day had a much lower risk of hip fractures in comparison to those who did not take it. The same amount of vitamin K can be found in one cup of green peas.
12 – Reduces bad cholesterol
For those who suffer with cholesterol issues, green peas have great benefits for decreasing bad cholesterol. The low density lipoproteins (LDL) that are found in the body are known as the bad cholesterol due to it contributing to fat buildup in the arteries. Green peas contain an organic compound called niacin which helps reduce the production of very low density lipoproteins (VLDL) and triglycerides. This then increases the amount of high density lipoprotein in the body which acts as good cholesterol (HDL).
When using foods for dietary and health benefits, it is important to acknowledge the side effects that may come with constant use and also whether there are any risks or interactions:
Are there any side effects of consuming green peas?
There have been very few side effects reported on green pea consumption. The most common side effect and issue people can face is bloating. The lectin content in green peas and other legumes are closely associated with bloating and other stomach issues. The carbohydrate escape during digestion can cause bacteria to escape in your gut, which can cause gas buildup.
It is also advised not to load up too heavy on green peas as the high fiber content can cause a reverse effect on bowel movements and sometimes slow them down even further. Be sensible to consume the recommended daily amount and if you notice any side effects, reduce or stop consumption. It is important to balance any food in your diet and never over consume.
With very few side effects and little to no harm, let’s take a look at scientific studies on green peas and the results on their reported health benefits:
Focus on the effectiveness of green peas and their health benefits
A new approach to weight management and appetite control is low calorie, high protein diets. Foods such as green peas are a great source of protein with a relatively low calorie content, making them ideal for weight loss.
In an article by J Diabetes Science Technology in 2010, they suggested that obesity levels are on the rise due to lack of appetite control. Therefore, designing a diet to eat foods that are low in calorie but high in protein can work efficiently to combat the issue.
High protein foods help curb appetite and due to their slow release of energy, which helps you feel fuller for longer and weight loss is typically the end result.
For its numerous anti-inflammatory and antioxidant health benefits such as fighting off diseases like Alzheimer’s, arthritis and osteoporosis, green peas are quite incredible. They are packed full of antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients to help fight or reduce a range of medical conditions and health concerns.
In a 2012 clinical study review, it was said that peas, especially field/green peas, have a significant positive impact on metabolic, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal issues. These reports acknowledge and support the health benefits all discussed above due to the nutritious values green peas have.
Peas can be grown, manufactured and consumed in various ways. Let’s take a look at some facts, advice and frequently asked questions:
Are peas actually healthy?
Like most legumes, green peas are very healthy if consumed in recommended dosages. Half a cup of green peas contains around 61 calories and 4 gram of proteins, with an equal amount of fiber. They have amazing nutritional value, especially their protein content.
Green peas have recently been processed and manufactured into protein powders to help you gain muscle (due to their high protein content and health benefits).
Compared to other vegetables and some legumes such as carrots, green peas have a much higher protein content, which is great for weight management and appetite control. These key factors are important for your health as well as being popular and key in the diet industry right now.
In addition, green peas are a good source of dietary fiber, Vitamin A, iron, folate, thiamin, Vitamin C and manganese. They also have a high level of Vitamin K.
How many peas count as one of your 5-a-day?
Half a cup of peas, equal to 80 grams, counts as one of your 5-a-day. As they are a legume and not a vegetable, consuming more than half a cup will not increase your five a day count.
Green peas are great as a snack or to eat alongside a nutritionally balanced meal. They are great with meats and fish as well as being a great addition to risottos and pastas. As they are very versatile, they are very easy to implement into your daily diet.
What is the best way to consume green peas: frozen, fresh or canned peas?
Nutritionally, there is not much difference between fresh and frozen peas. However, the fresher the pea the less starch will be present due to a lower sugar content. If you can, it is best to consume fresh peas.
Whatever way you choose to consume peas, fresh, frozen or canned, always make sure to rinse them well before cooking as the manufacturing and processing methods means there will be a high sodium content present.
What other ways can you consume peas?
As well as eating peas fresh from their harvest or frozen from the supermarkets, many diet companies have developed a pea protein powder. Seeing as green peas have high protein value, they have been considered a great plant based alternative for protein powders.
We reviewed pea protein powder here :
Vega Sport Protein Review
Aloha Protein Powder Review
Typically, these powders are made from extracting protein from yellow peas. However, all peas contain a high protein content and this new development is groundbreaking for a food that has been around for centuries as is considered a low budget food.
Are green peas a vegetable, fruit or legume?
For many years green peas have been known as a garden or countryside vegetable. In fact, they still are. Some even consider green peas a fruit due to their seed reference. Any vegetable that contains seeds, like tomatoes, are considered and deemed a fruit, but for green peas, many tales have been told.
Strictly speaking, they are part of the legume family as they grow like other legumes such as chickpeas and lentils. Green peas are from a plant that produces pods, which is where the pea is from, just like other legume.
Today, green peas are still cooked and served as a vegetable but they are indeed a legume.
Can peas make you fart?
Green peas’ most common side effect is a buildup of gas, which will eventually make you fart. It seems somewhat silly, but if you eat peas and have a buildup of gas a few hours later, it could well be down to the peas. Be sure to stick to around half to one cup per day to avoid bloating and gas buildup.
Do frozen peas have to be cooked before eating?
It is advised not to eat any frozen foods, even if they are unprocessed. Frozen peas are designed to be ready to cook foods, not ready to eat foods. Always make sure to thaw the peas out fully or cook them before consuming.
What to add to peas to make them taste better?
If you find peas a boring food to eat, you can easily spice them up with nutritious flavourings and natural spices. Add some tumeric to add to the health benefits. That way you get an added health kick at the same time as making them super tasty.
Turmeric is another antioxidant but is also great for inflammation fighting issues such as skin conditions, allergies, stomach issues and itching. The two are a powerful duo. Read more about turmeric and it’s health benefits here.
Alternatively, you could add some natural chillies, salt or lemon to add a bit of a kick. These are a few simple and nutritious ways to spice up the flavour of peas without adding unnecessary fats and sugars.
Can I eat peas everyday?
Yes you can eat peas everyday. They are a healthy nutritious food that is good to consume as a snack or alongside a meal. They provide the body with a lot of protein and fiber which is good for weight management and it’s antioxidant effects.
However, make sure to not over consume as there can be side effects from eating too many. This includes bloating and a slower digestion. Be sure to stick to the daily average of half a cup to one full cup, roughly between 80 to 150 grams.
Is Pea a Superfood?
Yes, it is. With high levels of protein and fibres, as well as being a source of vitamin K, peas are quickly becoming more popular as a superfood.
Are peas high in sugar?
Peas contain sugar but in very low quantity. A cup of peas (98g) will have 4g of sugar. So, if you are diabetic, there’s no need to worry about consuming a little bit of peas now and then.
Are Frozen peas good for you?
There is no significant loss of nutrients when you freeze peas. They are healthy, taste better and will not cause any harm when eaten.
Can you be allergic to peas?
It is important to remember that green peas are not a vegetable, like many people think. They are a legume and legumes can be a common allergen. Precautions should be taken if you have any other legume allergies and always consult a professional first.
The signs of an allergy normally develop within seconds of consuming the food and includes tingling of the mouth or tongue, swelling of the face, eyes or throat, and wheezing. If these symptoms develop, you must seek medical help immediately.
Green peas have a deceptive nutritional value that boasts many health benefits. Their high antioxidant, vitamin and minerals content also contributes to these benefits.
For centuries they were considered a dinner staple, but nobody recognised just how valuable they are for reducing or treating medical conditions. After many studies and conclusive results, green peas are in fact an incredible food to consume daily to attain these benefits and support your body.
They are easily available across the world and this access means most people can enjoy them, enrich their diets and consume for their health benefits.
If you enjoyed the list, feel free to leave a comment and any information or recommendations of ways to use green peas for health benefits.