Have you eaten your peas today? As a child you may have hated peas, but perhaps your mom knew a little something about this diminutive vegetable. Peas are rich in vitamins, minerals, high in protein and high in fiber. In fact peas contain just about every essential mineral and vitamin we need.
You might be surprised to learn that one cup of peas has 8.5 grams of protein, which is more than twice the amount of protein as a tablespoon of peanut butter. A cup of cooked peas also has 9 grams of fiber, adding bulk to your meal and helping you feel full.
Peas are Rich in Nutrients and Antioxidants
Along with their high nutrient levels, peas are extremely high in protein, which is why consumers are seeing so many pea protein drinks in the marketplace. It is one of the best plant based sources of protein.
High levels of protein offer numerous benefits. Protein helps to improve muscle strength and bone health and play a significant role in maintaining healthy weight by helping to control your appetite. Peas also have a high fiber content, which also aids in appetite control. In addition, peas are also rich in phenolic compounds, which are natural antioxidants that protect the body from diseases such as cancer and other inflammatory diseases.
Support Cardiovascular Health
There are numerous reasons that peas can help to maintain heart health…..one of them is high fiber. Foods rich in fiber have been shown to improve serum lipid levels, as well as reduce blood pressure and inflammation.
This study, published in The Journal of Nutrition noted that participants placed on a pea fiber diet trended towards lower postprandial triacyglycerol (TAG) responses compared with participants on a low-fiber diet which was matched in macronutrient content.
The mineral content of peas, including potassium, magnesium and calcium also support healthy blood pressure levels. In addition peas contain vitamin C, carotenoids and flavonols, which also support heart health.
Help with Gastrointestinal Function
The high fiber content of peas are a great benefit to digestive health. Fiber helps to maintain the growth of the healthy bacteria in your gut, which in turn helps to discourage or minimize the unhealthy bacteria from becoming too prolific.
High fiber also helps to keep your bowels moving on a consistent basis. This study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, states “The addition of 4 g. pea hull fiber resulted in a significant increase in bowel movement frequency in residents of a long-term care facility, particularly in those with the lowest frequency.” A similar study shows the same effect in children with constipation. In this study pea hull fiber was added to snack foods, the results were significantly increased bowel movement frequency, without side effects.
Proper Blood Sugar Regulation
Due to the high levels of protein and fiber in peas, they can play a significant role in mediating the body’s glycemic response. Foods high in fiber translates into slower carbohydrate absorption, which in turn translates to a slow, steadier rise in blood sugar, rather than a quick spike.
Protein is important in stabilizing blood sugar levels, especially for those with type 2 diabetes. Peas also contain vitamins A, D, C and K, as well as the mineral magnesium, all of which have proven beneficial with regulating blood sugar and supporting healthy blood sugar levels.
In addition to maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, peas are low on the glycemic index. Foods low on the GI scale are helpful in regulating healthy blood sugar levels.
Looking For Some Ways to Add More Peas to Your Diet?
Add fresh peas to green salads.
Sauté snap peas with shiitake mushrooms for a delicious side dish.
Sprout dried peas to add to your stir fry or salad.
Mix green peas with chicken, diced onions and almonds to make a delicious and colorful chicken salad.
Fresh pea pods are a great food to pack in a lunch box.
Add peas to your macaroni salad.