Peas get the short shift when it comes to nutrition, but these affordable veggies have a lot going for them.
The University of Illinois Extension classifies them as a “starchy vegetable,” because they contain more starch than average veggies, like broccoli or lettuce. But because peas are high in protein, they also fall into the “meat and meat substitutes” group along with other high-protein plant foods like beans and lentils.
They may be humble, but green peas pack a healthy punch, and they do it without breaking your grocery budget. These are some of the health benefits of green peas.
1. They’re vitamin K powerhouses. A one-cup serving of green peas delivers a whopping 46 percent of your daily vitamin K requirements. Vitamin K is critical to bone and heart health, yet it’s a vitamin we don’t tend to focus on.
2. They’re protein-packed. A cup of green peas contains 8 grams of protein. That’s a good chunk of your daily requirements. Depending on your age and gender, you need between 19g and 56g of protein per day. Even if you’re on the high end, that means a cup of peas delivers 1/7 of your daily needs.
3. They’re full of fiber. That same cup of peas goes a long way toward meeting your fiber needs. One cup provides 8g of fiber, which is 36 percent of your daily requirement. Most Americans fall far short of their fiber needs, so pass the peas, please!
4. They’re anti-inflammatory. The combination of phytonutrients in green peas fight inflammation. In fact, green peas contain a special type of phytonutrient called pisumsaponins and pisomosides that pack a big anti-inflammatory punch.
5. They’re good for soil. Peas aren’t just good for your body—they’re good for your garden. Peas are nitrogen-fixing crops, meaning they return nitrogen to the soil where they’re planted. Planting peas actually supports the health of other plants in your garden. Soil that contains fewer nutrients produces less healthy food, so plant those peas, y’all!
6. Peas provide iron. A cup of peas contains 14 percent of your daily iron needs. That’s more than twice the iron in a cup of kale.
7. They’re an excellent source of manganese. Like peas, manganese doesn’t get the attention it deserves. This micronutrient is vital for healthy bones. It also helps prevent wrinkles and regulate blood sugar. That little cup of peas provides 22 percent of your daily manganese.
8. They’re good for your heart. Like barley, peas contain a type of soluble fiber called beta glucan that lowers bad cholesterol. High levels of bad cholesterol are strongly linked to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.