Peas: properties, benefits

Rich in fiber and low in calories, peas are very digestible legumes and useful for stabilizing blood sugar and cholesterol levels in the blood. Let’s discover the nutritional characteristics and all the benefits of peas.

Peas are foods belonging to the legume family, with a green color and round shape, contained in the pods of an herbaceous and annual plant with the scientific name Pisum Sativum, which belongs to the Fabaceae family.

There are several varieties of peas, such as climbing peas, dwarf peas, mezzarama peas and the mangiatutto or snow peas variety. Among the varieties to be shelled, smooth-seeded peas and wrinkled-seeded peas are distinguished. Fresh peas ripen during the spring season, and can be eaten both cooked and raw, when fresh.

During the other seasons, frozen or dried peas can be eaten, after soaking them for several hours. There are also peas in tin or glass jars. The advice is to always prefer fresh products, and possibly at 0 km and organic.

Peas: calories and nutritional values

Fresh peas are low in fat and low in calories (about 80 kcal per 100 g) while they have a good fiber content and, like all legumes, contain a good amount of vegetable protein. In addition, they have a high carbohydrate content, which justifies their sweetish taste.

As for the micronutrient content, peas are rich in phosphorus and potassium among the minerals, while among the vitamins we find folic acid, vitamin C and vitamin K. Let’s see the properties of these nutrients. For greater clarity, we report below the table with the nutritional values ​​of peas.

Nutritional values ​​per 100g of fresh peas:

  • Kilocalories: 81
  • Proteins: 5.62 gr
  • Fat: 0.3 gr
  • Carbohydrates: 13.48 gr
  • Fibers: 4.5 gr
  • Waterfall: 78 g
  • Soccer: 25 mg
  • Iron: 1.16 mg
  • Magnesium: 33 mg
  • Phosphorus: 108 mg
  • Potassium: 244 mg
  • C vitamin: 40 mg
  • Thiamine or vitamin B1: 0.266 mg
  • Riboflavin or vitamin B2: 0.132 mg
  • Niacin or vitamin B3: 2.09 mg
  • Pantothenic acid or vitamin B5: 0.104 mg
  • Pyridoxine or vitamin B6: 0.169 mg
  • Folate: 65 µg
  • Vitamin A: 38 µg
  • Vitamin E: 0.13 mg
  • Vitamin K: 24.8 µg
  • Beta-carotene: 449 µg
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin: 2477 µg
  • Glycemic index: 35

Peas: health benefits

Thanks to their properties, peas bring numerous health benefits. In particular, they are allies of the cardiovascular system, promote diuresis, counteract constipation and help keep cholesterol and blood sugar levels low, but not only. Let’s see all the properties of peas in detail.

✓ They have diuretic properties

Peas, thanks to the potassium content, stimulate efficient diuresis and therefore help to counteract the retention of liquids, typical of cellulite. Thanks to this effect, they are also excellent for those suffering from high blood pressure, as their consumption helps to decrease it.

✓ They counteract constipation and detoxify

Peas have a good amount of fiber, which helps stimulate intestinal motility and thus prevent constipation, but also more important conditions such as the formation of diverticula. Furthermore, the presence of fibers helps to dispose of those toxins present in the colon, helping the detoxification of the body and preventing diseases such as colorectal cancer.

✓ Lower blood cholesterol levels

Regular consumption of peas would be able to lower cholesterol levels in the blood. Some studies conducted on laboratory animals have shown, in fact, this property of peas. In a study, it was found that in pigs fed high cholesterol diets, subsequent consumption of raw peas was able to lower LDL cholesterol. In another study, the administration of pea proteins in rats decreased both cholesterol and triglyceride levels, also acting at the gene level.

✓ They are very digestible

Peas, in particular fresh and frozen ones, are very digestible thanks to the outer skin, which is softer than that of other legumes. For this reason, they are recommended for children, the elderly and those suffering from digestive difficulties who generally struggle to eat other legumes.

✓ Useful in cancer prevention

In a review, all the studies that would demonstrate the anticancer activity of peas were reported. The preventive effect would be due to the presence of various substances such as saponins, lectins, phenolic compounds and isoflavones.

✓ They prevent diabetes

The consumption of peas, like all legumes, can prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes thanks to their low glycemic index, determined by the presence of both fibers and proteins, which help stabilize glycemic levels. To prevent diabetes, it is necessary to adopt a diet rich in vegetables, legumes, fish and lean meats, limiting sugars and alcohol.

✓ They are useful in pregnancy

The presence of folic acid in peas helps prevent fetal malformations due to folic acid deficiency during pregnancy. Their regular consumption before and during this period enhances the effect of folic acid supplements, which are mandatory in pregnancy.

Peas: how many to eat

As we have seen, peas fall into the category of legumes and as such, a standard portion equals about 50 grams when weighed dry or 150 grams if fresh. In any case, they must be weighed raw. In the context of a healthy and balanced diet and in the absence of specific pathologies, it is recommended to consume at least 3 or 4 portions of legumes per week, therefore, it is possible to consume peas in these quantities or, if you particularly like them, even more often (up to 5 or 6 times a week). The important thing, as always, is to moderate in quantity. To further vary the diet, however, it is advisable to alternate peas with other legumes, such as lentils (which are among the most digestible legumes), beans or chickpeas.

Peas: some usage tips

Peas can be purchased fresh or dried, but also frozen or in a pre-cooked jar. When you decide to buy fresh peas you have to pay attention to the peel which must be bright and crunchy and not yellowed. Better to choose those that are not too big to avoid that the fruit they contain is hard. Once purchased, they can be kept in the fridge for a few days and must be peeled only at the time of use because the peel of the fruit tends to harden easily.

Fresh peas can also be eaten raw, as a simple snack, although it is advisable not to overdo it. Canned peas can be kept up to date on the package and should be kept in a cool, dry place.

Dried peas, on the other hand, as mentioned at the beginning of the article, must be soaked before being consumed. Generally we recommend about 2/3 hours of soaking (unless otherwise indicated on the package) and, subsequently, they should be cooked in water for 40/50 minutes.

Peas are very versatile in the kitchen. They can be eaten with pasta or other cereals, in order to complete the protein picture. In this way, also associated with a vegetable dish, they become a complete dish. Or they can be used to make soups, but also meatballs or vegetable burgers.

Peas can also be used to make hummus, a cream based on legumes and tahini sauce. The ingredients for this recipe are: 300 g of peas, shallots, sage and rosemary, tahini, lemon and extra virgin olive oil. The procedure is very simple: fry the shallot, add the peas and cook for a few minutes. After that add the tahini and pass everything through a vegetable mill. Excellent appetizer spread on slices of toasted bread.

How to store peas

If you buy fresh peas, once extracted from their pods they can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week. Alternatively, they can be frozen and stored for several months. In this way we can stock up on these legumes to be consumed throughout the year.

To freeze the peas, just wash them thoroughly, place them on a cutting board and put them in the freezer for at least 6-8 hours; subsequently they can be placed in the special food bags and stored in the freezer for a few months. Frozen peas retain the same properties as fresh peas. As with any other food, however, it is advisable to defrost only the quantity necessary for the preparation of the recipe, thus avoiding defrosting and refreezing the food.

As for dried peas, on the other hand, it is good to follow the instructions on the package (generally they have a long shelf life), while for peas in a jar, once opened they can be stored in the refrigerator for two or three days at most.

Peas: contraindications and potential negative effects

Peas contain purines (specifically, they are considered to be of medium purine content), which increase blood uric acid levels. For this reason, gout or high uric acid sufferers should not consume peas because excess uric acid builds up in the joints, causing pain and swelling. Furthermore, in case of overt diabetes, peas can be consumed as part of a varied and balanced diet, preferably associating them with whole grains, whose fibers help to lower the glycemic index.


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