Green peas are a common vegetable that can be found in many cuisines around the world. They are also known as garden peas, sweet peas, or sugar peas. They belong to the legume family, which includes beans, lentils, chickpeas, and peanuts. Green peas are not only delicious, but also nutritious. They contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and proteins that can benefit your health in many ways. However, they also have some drawbacks that you should be aware of before consuming them regularly. In this article, we will explore the health benefits of green peas and their side effects, and how to use them in your diet.
Nutritional facts of green peas:
Green peas are a nutrient-dense legume, packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial compounds. Here are the approximate nutritional facts for a 1-cup (160g) serving of cooked green peas:
- Calories: 125 kcal
- Carbohydrates: 25g
- Protein: 8g
- Dietary Fiber: 8g
- Total Fat: 0.5g
- Saturated Fat: 0.1g
- Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g
- Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
- Sodium: 4mg
- Potassium: 292mg
- Vitamin A: 764 IU
- Vitamin C: 58mg
- Vitamin K: 36.4mcg
- Thiamin (Vitamin B1): 0.3mg
- Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): 0.1mg
- Niacin (Vitamin B3): 2.1mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.2mg
- Folate (Vitamin B9): 101mcg
- Calcium: 25mg
- Iron: 2mg
- Magnesium: 46mg
- Phosphorus: 142mg
- Zinc: 1.2mg
- Copper: 0.3mg
- Manganese: 0.4mg
Green peas are an excellent source of dietary fiber, providing 8 grams in just one cup. They are also rich in vitamins A, C, K, and various B-vitamins, including folate. Moreover, green peas contain essential minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and iron. This nutrient profile makes green peas a valuable addition to a balanced diet, contributing to improved digestion, heart health, and immune function. Furthermore, their low calorie and fat content make them a weight-friendly option for those looking to manage their weight while enjoying the many health benefits these vibrant green gems have to offer.
Health Benefits of Green Peas:
Due to its richness in a variety of nutritional and bioactive ingredients, the consumption of pea has been suggested to be associated with a wide range of health benefits, and there has been increasing focus on its potential as a functional food. Whole peas are rich in macronutrients, including proteins, starches, dietary fiber, and non-starch polysaccharides. In addition, polyphenols, especially flavonoids and phenolic acids, are important bioactive ingredients that are mainly distributed in the pea coats. Owing to the multiple bioactive ingredients in peas, they exhibit various health benefits, such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-renal fibrosis, and regulation of metabolic syndrome effects.
Green Peas are rich in proteins:
Peas are a surprisingly potent source of protein, making them a fantastic addition to a well-rounded diet. Despite their small size, peas pack a protein punch, especially when compared to other vegetables. This plant-based protein is not only a great option for vegetarians and vegans but also a smart choice for anyone looking to increase their protein intake. Protein is essential for various bodily functions, including muscle repair and growth, enzyme production, and hormone regulation. By incorporating peas into meals, individuals can fuel their bodies with a high-quality protein source that supports overall health and aids in maintaining or building lean muscle mass.
Health benefits of green peas for healthy heart:
Green peas are a good source of soluble fiber, which can help to lower cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber binds to cholesterol in the digestive tract and prevents it from being absorbed into the bloodstream. This can help to lower LDL cholesterol, which is the “bad” cholesterol that can build up in the arteries and increase the risk of heart disease.
Green peas also contain antioxidants, which can help to protect the heart from damage. Antioxidants can help to neutralize free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage cells. Heart damage caused by free radicals can lead to heart disease, stroke, and other health problems.
In addition, green peas contain potassium, a mineral that helps to regulate blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease.
Health benefits of green peas for diabetes:
Green peas can be a beneficial addition to the diet of individuals with diabetes due to their low glycemic index and high fiber content. With a low glycemic index, green peas cause a slower and more gradual increase in blood sugar levels, making them suitable for maintaining stable blood glucose levels.
The high fiber content in green peas aids in slowing down the absorption of sugar, further helping to regulate blood sugar levels and preventing sudden spikes. Moreover, the type of carbohydrates found in green peas is mostly complex, which means they are digested more slowly, providing a sustained source of energy and preventing rapid fluctuations in blood sugar.
Additionally, the rich nutrient profile of green peas, including vitamins A, C, and K, as well as minerals like potassium and magnesium, supports overall health and may help manage diabetes-related complications.
Health benefits of green peas for cancer prevention:
Green peas are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that may help prevent certain type of cancers like colon cancer, breast cancer and lung cancer. Fiber can improve bowel movements and reduce the contact time between carcinogens and the colon mucosa, thereby lowering the risk of tumor formation. Antioxidants, such as polyphenols and carotenoids, can scavenge free radicals and reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which are associated with cancer development
Phytochemicals, such as saponins, lectins, and protease inhibitors, can modulate various cellular processes, such as apoptosis, cell cycle, differentiation, and angiogenesis, and inhibit the growth and invasion of cancer cells. Several studies have shown that green peas can suppress the proliferation of human colon cancer cells in vitro and reduce the incidence and multiplicity of colon cancers. However, more research is needed to confirm the efficacy and safety of green peas for colon cancer prevention in humans.
Health benefits of green peas for gut health:
Green peas are a valuable ally in promoting gut health due to their rich fiber content and beneficial nutrients. The soluble and insoluble fiber in green peas acts as prebiotics, nourishing the good bacteria in the gut and supporting a healthy gut microbiome. These beneficial bacteria play a vital role in maintaining digestive health and overall well-being. Also, the fermentation of fiber by gut bacteria produces short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate, which fuel the cells lining the colon and help maintain a healthy gut environment.
The fiber in green peas aids in regular bowel movements, preventing constipation and promoting a healthy digestive system. Furthermore, the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds found in green peas contribute to reducing gut inflammation and protecting the gastrointestinal tract from potential damage.
Health benefits of green peas as immunity booster:
Green peas are a type of legume that are rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, catechin, and epicatechin. These nutrients act as antioxidants, which are compounds that can neutralize free radicals and reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in your body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can harm your DNA, proteins, and membranes, leading to chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Inflammation and oxidative stress can also weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to infections. Antioxidants can help boost your immune system by enhancing your natural defenses and preventing cell damage. Green peas also contain other phytochemicals, such as isoflavones, lectins, saponins, and pisumsaponins, that may have anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and immune-modulating properties. These phytochemicals can modulate various cellular processes, such as apoptosis, cell cycle, differentiation, and angiogenesis, and inhibit the growth and invasion of harmful bacteria and viruses.
Green peas for healthy eyes:
Green peas are a type of legume that are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, lutein, and zeaxanthin. These nutrients are essential for maintaining healthy eyes and preventing eye problems such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Vitamin A helps your eyes adjust to changes in light and supports the function of the retina. Vitamin C helps your eyes fight infections and heal wounds. Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that act as natural filters for harmful blue light, which can damage the macula, the central part of the retina. By eating green peas regularly, you can provide your eyes with enough nutrients and antioxidants to keep them healthy and sharp.
Side Effects of Green Peas
Green peas are generally safe to eat for most people, but they may also cause some side effects in some cases. Some of the possible side effects are:
- They may cause bloating and gas. Bloating and gas are common digestive issues that can occur after eating legumes such as green peas. This is because legumes contain complex sugars called oligosaccharides that are hard to digest by humans. These sugars are fermented by bacteria in the large intestine, producing gas and causing discomfort. To reduce this problem, you can soak or sprout green peas before cooking them to break down some of the oligosaccharides. You can also eat them with other foods that aid digestion, such as ginger or cumin.
- They may interfere with mineral absorption. Legumes such as green peas contain substances called phytates or phytic acid that can bind to minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium, and magnesium in the digestive tract and reduce their absorption. This can lead to mineral deficiencies if you rely on legumes as your main source of these minerals. To prevent this issue, you can soak or sprout green peas before cooking them to lower their phytate content. You can also eat them with foods that enhance mineral absorption, such as vitamin C-rich fruits or animal products.
- They may trigger allergic reactions. Allergic reactions to green peas are rare, but they can happen in some people who are sensitive to legumes or have a history of food allergies. The symptoms can range from mild to severe, such as itching, swelling, hives, rash, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, breathing difficulties, and anaphylaxis (a life-threatening reaction that requires immediate medical attention). If you suspect you have an allergy to green peas, avoid eating them and consult your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
How to Use Green Peas
Green peas are versatile and easy to use in your diet. You can buy them fresh, frozen, or canned, and use them in various dishes such as soups, salads, curries, stir-fries, casseroles, pies, and more. You can also mash them into a puree or a dip or blend them into a smoothie or a juice. Here are some tips on how to use green peas:
- Choose fresh green peas that are bright green, firm, and plump. Avoid those that are yellowish, wrinkled, or mushy. You can store them in the refrigerator for up to three days or in the freezer for up to six months.
- If you buy frozen or canned green peas, look for those that have no added salt, sugar, or preservatives. You can thaw frozen peas in the refrigerator or in cold water before using them. You can drain and rinse canned peas to remove excess sodium and liquid.
- To cook green peas, you can boil them in water for about 10 minutes or until tender. You can also steam them in a steamer basket for about 15 minutes or until tender. You can season them with salt, pepper, butter, herbs, spices, lemon juice, or vinegar to enhance their flavor.
- To make green pea puree or dip, you can blend cooked green peas with garlic, onion, olive oil, yogurt, cheese, mint, basil, parsley, or any other ingredients you like. You can use this puree or dip as a spread for bread or crackers, a sauce for pasta or rice, a filling for sandwiches or wraps, or a topping for baked potatoes or roasted vegetables.
- To make green pea smoothie or juice, you can blend raw or cooked green peas with water, milk, yogurt, honey, banana, apple, spinach, kale, ginger, turmeric, or any other fruits or vegetables you like. You can drink this smoothie or juice as a refreshing and nutritious beverage.
Green Peas Recipes:
Here are some of the recipes incorporating green peas:
Green peas are a healthy and delicious vegetable that can provide you with many benefits. They are high in fiber, protein, antioxidants, vitamin K, and folate, which can help improve your digestion, muscle health, immune system, blood clotting, bone health, heart health, and brain health. However, they also have some side effects that you should be aware of, such as bloating, gas, mineral interference, and allergic reactions. To avoid these side effects, you can soak or sprout green peas before cooking them, eat them with other foods that aid digestion or mineral absorption, and consult your doctor if you have any allergies or medical conditions. You can use green peas in various ways in your diet, such as soups, salads, curries, stir-fries, casseroles, pies, purees, dips, smoothies, and juices. Green peas are a versatile and nutritious vegetable that can add color and flavor to your meals.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness programme or making any changes to your diet.