Green peas are a popular vegetable. They are also quite nutritious and contain a fair amount of fiber and antioxidants.
Additionally, research shows they may help protect against some chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer.
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On the other hand, some people claim green peas are harmful and should be avoided due to the antinutrients they contain, which can cause bloating.
This article takes a detailed look at green peas to determine if they’re healthy or you should limit them in your diet.
What Are Green Peas?
Green peas, or “garden peas,” are the small, spherical seeds that come from pods produced by the Pisum sativum plant.
They have been part of the human diet for hundreds of years and are consumed all over the world.
Strictly speaking, green peas are not vegetables. They are part of the legume family, which consists of plants that produce pods with seeds inside. Lentils, chickpeas, beans and peanuts are also legumes.
However, green peas are commonly cooked and sold as a vegetable and this article will refer to them as such. You can find them in frozen, fresh or canned varieties.
Since green peas are high in complex carbs called starches, they are considered a starchy vegetable along with potatoes, corn and squash.
There are several different varieties of peas available, including yellow peas, black-eyed peas and purple peas. However, green peas are the most frequently consumed.
Snap peas and snow peas are other popular varieties that are often confused with green peas due to their similar appearance. However, their flavor and nutrient content differ slightly.
Green peas have an impressive nutrition profile.
Their calorie content is fairly low, with only 62 calories per 1/2-cup (170-gram) serving (1).
Furthermore, peas contain just about every vitamin and mineral you need, in addition to a significant amount of fiber.
A 1/2-cup (170-gram) serving of peas provides the following nutrients (1):
- Calories: 62
- Carbs: 11 grams
- Fiber: 4 grams
- Protein: 4 grams
- Vitamin A: 34% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 24% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 13% of the RDI
- Thiamine: 15% of the RDI
- Folate: 12% of the RDI
- Manganese: 11% of the RDI
- Iron: 7% of the RDI
- Phosphorus: 6% of the RDI
What makes peas unique from other vegetables is their high protein content. For example, a 1/2 cup (170 grams) of cooked carrots has only 1 gram of protein, while 1/2 cup (170 grams) of peas contains four times that amount.
They are also rich in polyphenol antioxidants, which are likely responsible for many of their health benefits