These veggies may be tiny, but they are packed with nutrients, protein, fiber and health supporting goodness. For years my favorite way to enjoy peas was smothered in cheese sauce. Since ditching the cheese, and the butter and milk, I’ve come to appreciate peas just as they are.
What Are Peas?
Peas are actually classified as a fruit, because they form from a flower. The peas are the seeds of the pod-fruit Pisium sativum. Pods contain clusters of small peas that are either green or yellow in color. Even though they are technically a fruit, most people consider peas a vegetable.
Rich in protein, one cup provides a whopping 8.6 grams. This puts green peas protein up there with other top plant based protein foods, such as hemp seeds and quinoa. Green peas also provide fiber, antioxidants and micronutrients such as vitamins C and K, and manganese.
Health Benefits of Peas
Bring more peas into the diet to reap these benefits:
• Aids in weight loss. Their high protein and fiber help to create a full feeling, warding off cravings and reducing appetite.
• Manages blood sugar levels, helping to prevent diabetes.
• Promotes healthy digestion due to high fiber content. Fiber moves through the intestinal tract undigested, adding bulk to the stool to increase stool frequency and promote regularity. Fiber is also beneficial in the treatment of digestive disorders such as gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), stomach ulcers, diverticulitis and hemorrhoids.
• Helps to protect against cancer. Peas are packed with antioxidants that can help fight free radicals to relieve inflammation and reduce oxidative damage to cells. Thanks to the high concentration of antioxidants in green peas, they have even been shown to have anticancer properties.
Saponins, in particular, are a type of antioxidant found in peas that may help inhibit tumor growth and kill off cancer cells.
• Antioxidants in peas also slow the aging process and age related disorders.
• Aids liver function.
• Boosts the immune system.
How to Include Peas in the Diet
Peas are readily available in grocery stores, canned and frozen. They can also be grown in gardens as a cool weather crop.
There are several varieties of peas, such as sweet peas, snap peas and sugar peas. These little veggies can be eaten raw, cooked, or made into soups, sauces, purées, pesto, and they can even used to make hummus.
Try adding peas to salads, stir fries, or vegetable hash, or simply serve alongside a plain baked potato.
My favorite recipe that includes peas is Aloo Matar. This peas and potato dish in a mild curry sauce is easy to make and so nutritious and delicious. I make it once a week and savor it every time. And I don’t even miss the cheese sauce.