The humble pea.
Many look at it as nothing more than “steak decoration” — something you throw on the side of your plate to give your meal some color.
Others may think of depressing TV dinners, or the green stuff in the slop you got served by the lunch lady at school.
But they’re wrong!
Peas deserve more recognition — much more.
In fact, the unassuming legume is a nutritional powerhouse with a long list of potential health benefits.
Just check out these 14 amazing health benefits of peas!
1. Improves Digestion
TABLE OF CONTENTS
100 grams of green peas will give you about 5.5 grams of fiber.
That’s a whopping 22% of your daily recommended value right there.
Fiber nourishes the bacteria found in the mucous membrane of your gastrointestinal wall.
This keeps the mucous membrane strong, which in turn protects you from nasty digestive disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and colitis.
Also, the fiber gives consistency to your poop, so it’s not too soft or too hard.
In other words, it makes going to the toilet a more comfortable experience.
2. High In Plant-Based Protein
Peas are a great source of high-quality plant protein.
Protein is known as one of the main contributors to the feeling of fullness.
The protein and fiber content in peas could provide a one-two punch in regards to weight loss.
If you feel full, you’re less likely to be tempted to grab a snack or otherwise cheat on your diet.
Not only that, but the protein in peas is, of course, completely plant-based.
If you want to build muscle with strength training, you should increase your protein consumption to get the best gains.
However, you might be worried about the negative effects of eating a lot of meat (and you probably should).
Or maybe you’re a vegan or vegetarian.
In any case, peas (plus other legumes, like beans and lentils) can be a great replacement.
In fact, pea protein is sold alongside whey and soy as one of the best forms of protein powders on the market.
Many vegans and non-vegans swear by using pea protein for their daily muscle-building shakes.
3. Regulate Your Blood Sugar
One of the top health benefits of peas is the effect they have on your blood sugar.
Certain carbohydrates, especially the refined types, can give you a quick surge in your blood sugar levels.
Continually spiking your blood sugar levels is thought to be one of the main causes of diabetes.
The fiber and protein in peas helps with this as well.
First off, the fiber in peas helps slow down the digestion of carbs, making sure the sudden spikes don’t happen.
Protein has also been shown to be beneficial for keeping blood sugar stable.
And if that’s not enough, peas also rank low on the glycemic index scale — scoring a mere 22 out of 100 (the lower the score, the less the food affects your blood sugar levels).
4. Lower Bad Cholesterol
To explain this benefit, we’ll first have to clarify a few things about cholesterol:
ⓘ Good & Bad Cholesterol
Cholesterol makes its way through our bodies by traveling on proteins called lipoproteins.
There are two types of lipoproteins:
1. HDL (high-density lipoproteins) — a.k.a. good cholesterol.
This type absorbs the cholesterol and sends it to your liver, which then flushes it from your body.
Higher levels of HDL is connected to a lowered risk of heart disease.
2. LDL (low-density lipoproteins) — a.k.a. bad cholesterol.
When there’s too much LDL, it can accumulate alongside the walls of your blood vessels, in the form of plaque.
The more plaque is formed, the narrower the insides of your vessels will be, restricting blood flow (no thanks!).
Peas, along with other types of legumes, have been shown to significantly reduce levels of LDL cholesterol in your body.
5. Protect Your Memories
100 grams of green peas will provide you with around 19% of your daily Thiamin (vitamin B1) needs.
This is one vitamin you really don’t want to neglect.
If you’re low on thiamin, you’ll struggle to remember the smaller details of your day-to-day activities.
A serious deficiency, however, could lead to full-blown memory loss!
Don’t worry, though:
One large, 100 gram-scoop of peas, and you’ve already covered 1/5 of your need for the day.
6. Increase Bone Strength
Green peas are loaded with vitamin K — 25.9 mcg per 100 g.
That’s a whole 32% of your daily recommended intake — one third!
Vitamin K has long been known to have a beneficial effect on bone metabolism — leading to a stronger, healthier skeleton.
Also, it’s been shown to be protective against osteoporosis — a nasty disease that makes the insides of your bones look like Swiss cheese.
Well, it is…
Just ask my poor grandma, who looks at ice-covered sidewalks the way a cat looks at a bathtub.
Make sure you get plenty of vitamin K, so your bones stay strong and healthy as long as possible.
One way to do that is by eating plenty of green peas.
7. Promote Healthy Eyes
The little legume is also full of vitamin A — 16% of the RDV per 100 grams.
Vitamin A (in the form of beta carotene), along with other nutrients, has been shown to have a protective effect against macular degeneration.
It’s also a vital part of the light-sensitive receptor protein called Rhodopsin.
Rhodopsin is activated when light hits the retina of your eye.
This, in turn, sends a signal to your brain, which finally results in the experience of vision.
To keep this system functioning as it should, make sure to get enough vitamin A in your diet.
Peas also contain the phytonutrients lutein and zeaxanthin.
These are carotenoids that create the pigment for your macula (the oval-shaped area near the center of your eyes).
This protects your eyes by filtering out harmful blue and ultraviolet light.
Some studies have shown that consuming lutein and zeaxanthin may lower the risk of developing macular degeneration and cataracts.
8. Fight Inflammation
Peas have strong anti-inflammatory attributes.
First off, they contain some rare types of phytonutrients called saponins.
Since these are primarily found in peas, their scientific names reflect this:
- Pisumsaponins I and II.
- Pisomosides A and B.
These chemicals are thought to be key factors behind the pea’s ability to prevent inflammation and cancer (scientific review).
But wait, there’s more:
Green peas also come with inflammation-fighting omega-3s, in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
Although peas are extremely low in fat overall, 100 grams will net you around 30.4 mg of the health-boosting acids.
9. Can Inhibit Tumor Growth
The saponins in peas have proved themselves to be even more powerful than first imagined.
Like mentioned, they fight inflammation and help with cancer prevention.
But that’s not all:
Some studies have demonstrated that saponins can be used to treat existing cancers.
They have successfully been used in tumor therapy as well, reducing the size of the tumors and preventing them from growing any larger.
In other words:
Just say no to nasty tumors — eat your peas!
10.Prevent Premature Aging
Who wouldn’t want to delay the signs of aging?
Sure, at some point we all have to say goodbye to our bodies, thanks to the nature of entropy.
Still, you can slow down the process as much as possible with the right diet and lifestyle.
One major area of concern about aging is free radical damage.
ⓘ What Are Free Radicals?
Free radicals are atoms, or groups of atoms, with an uneven number of electrons.
They are produced when your body is subjected to air pollutants, fried foods, alcohol and prolonged sun exposure, among other things.
Electrons naturally seek uniformity, so these atoms (free radicals) gravitate towards electrons in your body to balance themselves out.
This results in them “stealing” electrons from your cells, proteins or DNA, damaging them in the process.
The free-radical damage will first be visible in your skin:
Dullness, looseness, wrinkles, blemishes — what a nightmare!
But don’t panic — there’s hope:
Anti-oxidants are types of molecules that can safely interact with free radicals and stop them from dealing damage.
Although your body does produce its own anti-oxidants, a healthy diet full of whole plant foods can greatly boost your supply.
One such plant food is, of course, the pea.
Antioxidants In Peas
Within its crunchy goodness you’ll find a boatload of powerful antioxidants.
These will help you in your fight against premature aging.
- Carotenoids (Alpha-carotene and beta carotene)
- Phenolic acids
If you want to keep your beautiful skin as long as possible, stock up on peas (and other antioxidant-rich foods).
11. Defend Against Stomach Cancer
Stomach cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death worldwide.
It’s a horrible disease with terrifying symptoms like:
- Stomach pain
- Sudden weight loss
- Constant nausea
- Vomiting of blood
Thankfully, there’s some simple lifestyle changes you can make that’ll greatly reduce your risk.
According to a Mexico-based study from 2009, a diet high in polyphenols can be effective at preventing stomach cancer.
One of the polyphenols included in the study was coumestrol.
This is found in different types of legumes, including peas.
In fact, green peas were one of the 3 sources of coumestrol they used in the study (the others being broad beans and pinto beans).
12. Boost Your Mood
How could peas help you with your mood and libido?
As we talked about in point 9, green peas contain a lot of vitamin C — 14.2 mg per 100 grams, to be exact.
In a study from 2011, hospitalized patients were given high doses of either vitamin C or vitamin D.
Their mood levels were then monitored.
When the study concluded, the vitamin D therapy was shown to have no lasting effects.
On the other hand, the vitamin C infusions turned out to be quite helpful — generating a 34% reduction in ‘mood disturbance’.
Fun Times With Big C
Not sexy enough for you?
Check this out:
In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study from 2002, people consuming large doses of vitamin C experienced mood improvements as well.
But that’s not all…
They also enjoyed increased libidos, which resulted in more passionate fun between the sheets.
So, if you’re feeling a bit down (maybe in more ways than one) start crunching on some peas!
With only one cup (160 g) you’ll get around 38% of your daily need for the big C.
Now you know just how nutritious these underrated little crunch-balls actually are.
With all of the fantastic health benefits of peas we’ve listed here, I hope you decide to include more of them in your life.