What are Peas?
The pea (Pisum sativum) comes in three major types: garden, mangetout (snow), and sugar snap. Garden peas have rounded pods that are usually slightly curved in shape. They have a smooth texture and vibrant green color. Inside the pods are green rounded pea seeds that are sweet and starchy in taste.
Mangetout (snow) peas are ﬂatter than garden peas, and since they are not fully opaque, you can usually see the shadows of the ﬂat pea seeds within. Sugar snap peas, a cross between garden and mangetout, have plump pods with a crisp, snappy texture. The pods of both mangetout and sugar snap peas are edible, and both have a slightly sweeter and cooler taste than the garden pea.
History of Peas
The exact history of the pea is un- known. The general consensus is that peas originated in the region that spans from the Near or Middle East across to Central Asia. The modern pea varieties were produced by centuries of cultivation and selection for certain desired characteristics in both Europe and Asia. In the nineteenth century, during the early development of the study of genetics, peas played an important role.
The monk and botanist Gregor Mendel used peas in his plant-breeding experiments. In the 1970’s, sugar snap peas were developed, the result of a cross between garden peas and mangetout (snow) peas. Today, almost 80 percent of the world’s pea crop is utilized as dried peas rather than as fresh peas.
This is the case in the UK, however, in the United States, this is reversed, as 90 percent of the peas are eaten as green peas. Wisconsin, Washington, and Minnesota are the biggest producers of green peas, while the Russian Federation and China are the leading producers of dried peas.
Types of Peas
English Peas (Pisum sativum var. sativum)
When most of us think of peas, we picture the small, round, green balls that are so hard to grab with your fork. These are traditionally known as English peas. They also go by shelling peas, common peas, standard peas, and garden peas. The two features of this type of pea are also the two things that differentiate them from the other types of peas.
First, they do not have edible pods. The pods are smooth in texture, but tough and fibrous, making them unpleasant to eat and to digest. That’s why we shell them.
Secondly, we wait until the seeds – the peas – are fully plumped up, before shelling and eating them.
Snow Peas (Pisum sativum var. saccharatum)
Snows peas are often referred to as Chinese pea pods because so many of us were introduced to them through Chinese cooking. You may also see them referred to by their French name, mangetout, which means eat it all. Snow peas have edible pods, so you do indeed eat the whole thing.
The pods of snow peas are almost flat. The seeds are not allowed to fill out before harvesting. It’s the pod itself that we are growing them for.
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Sugar Snap Peas (Pisum sativum var. marcrocarpon)
Sugar snap peas look a lot like English peas, at first glance. However, the pods of sugar snaps are more cylindrical than the slightly curved English pea pod. They are a cross between English peas and snow peas. As with English peas, the seeds are allowed to plump up a bit. However, the pods are crisp and edible, so they do not need to be shelled and are used in recipes in the same way as snow peas.
Sugar snap peas are grown the same way as English peas, but they tend to last a bit longer when the weather warms up. If you like eating pea shoots and tendrils, sugar snap varieties have some of the best.
Nutritional Highlights Of Peas
All peas are lower in calcium and phosphorus than beans but provide similar levels of protein, carbohydrate, and fat. They are a good source of protein, B vitamins, and a variety of minerals, including phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, potassium, and iron. In addition, dried peas are an excellent source of dietary ﬁber, and green peas are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and carotene, while dried peas contain very little of these nutrients.
As dried peas lack water, they are more calorie-dense than fresh peas.
Protein content in Peas
Peas contain about 5 g of protein.
Calories in Peas
The calories in pea soup will vary depending on whether or not it has been prepared with meat, such as ham or bacon. Generally speaking, one cup of pea soup contains around 185 calories, 4 grams fat, 27 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 11 grams protein, and 965 mg sodium. Be mindful when purchasing canned soups, as the sodium content can be very high. When possible, aim to buy low-sodium soup or consider making it on your own.
Iron content in Peas
Green peas contain 1.4 milligrams of iron per 100 grams.
Benefits of Vitamin C In Peas
Snow peas are a good source of vitamin C which is involved in the production of collagen, thus helping to keep our skin firm. Being a powerful antioxidant, vitamin C protects the cells from damage caused by free radicals. Thus, eating foods rich in vitamin C such as snow peas enables your skin to fight oxidative damage.
Benefits of B Vitamins
As stated earlier, peas are a good source of B vitamins such as folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. These vitamins aid in the creation of red blood cells which carry oxygen and nutrients to all body cells including those of your scalp, follicles and growing hair. Deficiency of these vitamins can cause shedding, slow growth or weak hair that is prone to breaking.
Health Benefits of Peas
Though interestingly commonly known as a poor man’s dish; did you know that peas are magical healers in diverse ways. Here are some of the health benefits of peas.
1. Weight Management:
Peas are low fat but high everything else. A cup of peas has less than 100 calories but lots of protein, fiber and micro-nutrients.
2. Stomach cancer prevention:
Peas contain high amounts of a health-protective polyphenol called coumestrol. A study in Mexico City determined you only need 2 milligrams per day of this phytonutrient to prevent stomach cancer. A cup of peas has at least 10.
3. Anti-aging, strong immune system, and high energy:
This comes from the high levels of anti-oxidants including:
- flavinoids: = catechin and epicatechin
- carotenoid= alpha-carotene and beta-carotene
- phenolic acids = ferulic and caffeic acid
- polyphenols = coumestrol
4. Prevention of wrinkles, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, bronchitis, osteoporosis and candida
These come from peas strong anti-inflammatory properties. Excess inflammation has also been linked to, heart disease, cancer, and aging in general. These properties include:
- Pisumsaponins I and II and pisomosides A and B are anti-inflammatory phytonutrients found almost exclusively in peas.
- vitamin C and vitamin E, and a good amount of the antioxidant mineral zinc omega-3 fat in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
5. Blood sugar regulation:
High fibre slows and protein slows down how fast sugars are digested.
The anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory prevent or reverse insulin resistance (type 2 diabetes)
All carbohydrates are natural sugars and starches with no white sugars or chemicals to worry about.
6. Heart disease prevention:
The many antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds support healthy blood vessels. The formation of plaque along our blood vessel walls starts with chronic, excessive oxidative stress and inflammation.
The generous amounts of vitamin B1 and folate, B2, B3, and B6 reduce homocysteine levels which are risk factor for heart disease.
7. Healthy for the environment:
Peas work with bacteria in the soil to ‘fix’ nitrogen from the air and deposit it in the soil. This reduces the need for artificial fertilizers since one of their main ingredients is nitrogen.
After peas have been harvested the remaining plant easily breaks down to create more organic fertilizer for the soil.
Peas are also able to grow on minimal moisture so they are a perfect crop in many areas not needing irrigation or using up valuable water supplies.
8. Prevent constipation:
The high fiber content in peas improves bowel health and peristalsis.
9. Healthy bones
Just one cup of peas contain 44% of your Vitamin K which helps to anchor calcium inside the bones. It’s B vitamins also help to prevent osteoporosis.
10. Reduces bad cholesterol:
The niacin in peas helps reduce, the production of triglycerides and VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein, which results in in less bad cholesterol, increased HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and lowered triglycerides.
11. Prevents Hair Loss:
Vitamin C is an important mineral as it is involved in collagen formation which is required by the hair follicles for optimal growth. Even minor deficiencies of this vitamin can lead to dry, brittle hair that breaks easily.
12. Soothes Burns:
To soothe the burning sensation, you can apply a paste of fresh green peas on the burnt area.
13. Peas for Glowing Skin:
You can boil some peas and grind to make a paste. Apply this all over your body and face. Scrubbing with this paste will provide you with a glowing skin.
14. Treatment of Chilblains:
Chilblains are swellings and inflammations of the fingers and toes due to cold temperatures in winter. Green peas are a natural remedy for chilblains. For this purpose, boil green peas in water. Straining out the peas, mix 1 teaspoon sesame oil to this water and foment your fingers in it for some time. Afterwards, wash with this water. This will significantly lessen swelling, inflammation and discomfort.
15. Fights Inflammation:
Peas contain skin friendly nutrients such as vitamin B6, vitamin C and folate (folic acid). These nutrients can effectively counter inflammation and free radical damage that rob the skin of its natural stores of collagen and elastin-proteins that keep your skin firm, toned and in bounce back shape.
16. Good for Eye-Sight:
Peas have adequate amount of anti-oxidant flavonoids like lutein, carotenes, zea-xanthin as well as vitamin-A. Vitamin A is one of the essential nutrients which are required for maintaining the health of mucus membranes, skin and eye-sight.
How to Select and Store of Peas
Green peas are available in many forms: fresh pods, canned, frozen, and dried. As fresh pods, garden peas are generally available from the spring through to the onset of winter, and mangetout peas can usually be found throughout the year in supermarkets. Snap peas tend to be available only from late spring through to early summer.
Fresh peas should be refrigerated, since heat hastens the conversion of their sugar content into starch. For fresh garden peas, look for those whose pods are ﬁrm, velvety, and smooth and have a medium green, alive look. Reject peas whose green color is especially light or dark or those that are yellow, whitish, or mottled with gray. Also, avoid pods that are puffy, water- soaked, or have mildew residue. Pods should contain peas of sufficient number and size so that there is not much empty room in the pod.
Avoid pods that rattle when shaken as they may be nearly empty. Although garden peas are typically round, the pods of mangetout peas should look ﬂat. Look for the shape of the peas through the translucent shiny pea pod. Generally, the smaller pods are younger and tend to be sweeter. To ﬁnd quality, fresh sugar snap peas, snap one open and see whether it is crisp.
These should be bright green in color, ﬁrm, and plump. It is best to eat and enjoy fresh peas on the day you buy them. If this is not possible, it is best to refrigerate them as quickly as possible. Otherwise the sweet sugar will turn to starch rather quickly. Leave peas unwashed and unshelled and stored in the refrigerator in a perforated bag or unsealed container that will allow some air to circulate around the peas. They will keep for several days. Fresh peas can be blanched in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes and subsequently frozen for up to six months.
Tips for Preparing Peas
Rinse pea pods brieﬂy, then shell the peas by snapping or cutting off the top and bottom of the pod and removing the tough, undigestible “thread” of the pea pod. If the peas do not have this thread, you can cut the seam of the pod carefully, so as not to damage the tender peas inside. Peas removed from the pod are clean and do not need to be washed.
Rinse mangetout and sugar snap peas under cool water before using. You can eat mangetout and sugar snap peas raw, but cooking them will enhance their sweet character. One easy method is to blanch them for 1/2 to 1 minute (do so brieﬂy to keep them green and fresh—looking), then remove them and plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking.
One traditional pea-cooking method is to use a few wet leaves of round head lettuce to line a saucepan and then pour the peas on top. Add some spices and herbs of your choice and cover with a second lettuce layer. Add 2 tablespoons of water, cover the pan, and cook the peas for 15 to 20 minutes over heat.
Food Recipes for Peas
Peas and Mint Pesto
In a food processor, combine a bag of thawed frozen peas, a handful each of mint leaves and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, a garlic clove or two, and generous grindings of black pepper. With the machine on, add olive oil through the feed tube until the pesto is smooth, combined and thickened to the desired consistency. Thin with lemon juice, if needed. (Try this as a crostini spread topped with ricotta and chopped fresh herbs or fried prosciutto.)
Quick Serving Ideas for Peas
• Peas enhance green salads.
• Blanch sugarsnap peas, sauté them with garlic and shiitake mushrooms, and serve them over brown rice.
• Combine drained peas, chopped apple, and onion in a bowl. Separately combine sour cream or soft tofu, horseradish, and salt and pepper to taste. Add to the salad, mix lightly, and top with freshly squeezed lemon juice.
• Green peas can be mixed with shredded chicken, diced onions, rapeseed-oil mayonnaise, almonds, raisins, and curry powder to make a delicious and colorful chicken salad.
• You can improve on canned split pea soup by adding fresh peas to enhance its ﬂavor, texture, and nutrition.
• Fresh (or freeze-dried) pea pods are a healthy, portable snack food.
Interesting Facts about Peas
- Although considered a vegetable green peas really are a fruit since they contain seeds developed from a flower.
- Green peas are the immature seed of dried peas often called field peas
- Dried peas which have been eaten for over 5000 year and were a stable during the Middle Ages. Field peas were easy to grow and saved many from starving.
- Fresh green peas did not become popular till the 16 century.
- Peas have such high quality protein that many commercial protein powders are starting to use it. This avoids the possible side effects of soy, or dairy products.
- Canada is the largest producer of peas in the world!
How to Grow Peas
Pea plants are easy to grow, but have a very limited growing season. Furthermore, peas do not stay fresh long after harvest, so enjoy them while you can!
- To get the best head start, turn over your pea planting beds in the fall, add manure to the soil, and mulch well.
- As with other legumes, pea roots will fix nitrogen in the soil, making it available for other plants.
- Peas will appreciate a good sprinkling of wood ashes to the soil before planting. Learn more about soil amendments and preparing soil for planting.
- Sow seeds outdoors 4 to 6 weeks before last spring frost, when soil temperatures reach 45 degrees F. Here are some more tips on when to start planting peas.
- Plant 1 inch deep (deeper if soil is dry) and 2 inches apart.
- Get them in the ground while the soil is still cool, but do not have them sit too long in wet soil. It’s a delicate balance of proper timing and weather conditions. For soil that stays wet longer, invest in raised garden beds.
- A blanket of snow won’t hurt emerging pea plants, but several days with temperatures in the teens could. Be prepared to plant again.
- Peas are best grown in temperatures below 70 degrees F.
- Make sure that you have well-drained, humus-rich soil.
- Poke in any seeds that wash out. (A chopstick is an ideal tool for this.)
- Be sure, too, that you don’t fertilize the soil too much. Peas are especially sensitive to too much nitrogen, but they may like a little bonemeal, for the phosphorus content.
- Though adding compost or manure to the soil won’t hurt, peas don’t need heavy doses of fertilizer. They like phosphorus and potassium.
- Water sparsely unless the plants are wilting. Do not let plants dry out, or no pods will be produced.
- For tall and vine varieties, establish poles or a trellis at time of planting. Look at this video to find out how!
- Do not hoe around plants to avoid disturbing fragile roots.
- It’s best to rotate pea crops every year or two to avoid a buildup of soil-borne diseases.
Pests and Diseases
- Mexican Bean Beetles
- Fusarium Wilt
How to Harvest and Store Peas
- Keep your peas well picked to encourage more pods to develop.
- Pick peas in the morning after the dew has dried. They are crispiest then.
- Always use two hands when you pick peas. Secure the vine with one hand and pull the peas off with your other hand.
- Peas can be frozen or kept in the refrigerator for about 5 days. Place in paper bags, then wrap in plastic.
- If you missed your peas’ peak period, you can still pick, dry, and shell them for use in winter soups.
Negative effects of Peas
Everything in this world has advantages as well as disadvantages. So as peas also have some disadvantages(Pros and Cons of Peas) over it tremendous advantages. These advantages are not much to worry about.
As we know peas contain an enormous amount of vitamins and fibers. This also contains Vitamin D which helps to preserve bone mass, but excess intake of peas can also result in loss of calcium in your body. Consumption in an excess amount of peas can build up uric acid in the body, which may cause Gout(which is a build up uric acids in joint causes severe pain). You must consult with doctors and health experts that you can include peas in your diet or not if you are suffering from any kind of disease and if you are healthy then you may take peas in your diet because it has tremendous and amazing advantages on the human body.
One side effects, you may experience is weight gain when you add pea protein to your diet. Is Peas Protein bad for you, yes, if you will eating too many green peas, we know that one from major advantages of peas intake is weight loss. But if you take peas in excess amount then it will lead to weight gain instead of weight loss(Pea protein weight loss). So you should take the limited amount of peas in your diet.
Pea protein is isolated from yellow split peas(Pea protein isolate side effects), which contain a number of other components aside from protein. Peas are largely made up of carbohydrates, and this is a concern for many people, particularly with the recent popularity of low carb diets, and the well-known potential of complex carbs, like those in legumes, to cause bloating and create a state of excessive gas in the alimentary canal.
Pea protein powder(Pea protein powder benefits and risks) may cause Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Constipation or Diarrhea(Pea protein diarrhea). Because pea protein powder, on the other hand, is processed by extracting only the protein from peas. Peas protein powder has low FODMAP which is an acronym, derived from “Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols”. . In its various forms, like pea protein powder with brown rice or pea protein(pea protein dangers) with soy is safe for your gut. Rather, it is better because it is lactose and gluten free.
Peas contain small amounts of oxalate. Individuals with a history of oxalate-containing kidney stones should avoid over consuming them.