Table of Contents Hide
- Peas Nutritional Profile
- How Many Nutrients in This Food
- How To Use Nutritious Food
- Diets That May Restrict or Exclude This Food
- How to Buy This Food
- How To Storing This Food
- How To Preparing This Food
- What Happens When You Cook This Food
- How Other Kinds of Processing Affect This Food
- Amazing Medical Uses and/or Benefits
- Adverse Effects Associated with This Food
- Peas InteractionsFood/Drug
(Snow pea pods [sugar peas], split peas)
See also Beans.
Peas Nutritional Profile
• Energy value (calories per serving): Moderate
• Protein: High
• Fat: Low
• Saturated fat: Low
• Cholesterol: None
• Carbohydrates: High
• Fiber: High
• Sodium: Low
• Major vitamin contribution: Vitamin A, folate, vitamin C
• Major mineral contribution: Iron
How Many Nutrients in This Food
• Like most legumes (beans and peas), fresh green peas are a high-fiber, high carbohydrate, low-fat, high-protein food. Peas are a good source of dietary fiber, both insoluble cellulose in the skin and soluble gums and pectins in the pea.
• They start out high in sugar but convert their sugars to starch as they age. A few hours after picking, as much as 40 percent of the sugar in peas may have turned to starch. The proteins in peas are plentiful but limited in the essential amino acids tryptophan, methionine, and cystine.
• Peas have moderate amounts of vitamin A derived from deep yellow carotenes, including beta-carotene, masked by their green chlorophyll.
They are also a good source of the B vitamin folate, vitamin C, and non heme iron, the form of iron found in plants.
• Fresh peas, sometimes known as garden peas, are peas straight from the pod. Petits pois is a French term for “small peas,” peas that are mature
but not yet full size. Dried peas are whole peas minus the natural moisture, with more nutrients per gram than fresh peas; they must be soaked before cooking.
• Split peas are dried peas that have been boiled, skinned, and split in half so they can be cooked without soaking. Pea pods are very young
pods with only a hint of peas inside.
• One-half cup of cooked fresh peas has 3.7 g dietary fiber, 0.3 g total fat, 4 g protein, 554 IU vitamin A (24 percent of the RDA for a woman, 19 percent of the RDA for a man), and 63 mcg folate (16 percent of the RDA).
• One-half cup of boiled split peas has eight grams dietary fiber, 0.4 g total fat, eight grams protein, seven IU vitamin A (negligible amount), and 63 mcg folate (16 percent of the RDA).
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How To Use Nutritious Food
The proteins in peas and other legumes are deficient in the essential amino acids tryptophan, methionine, and cystine but contain sufficient amounts of the essential amino acids lysine and isoleucine.
• The proteins in grains are exactly the opposite. Together, they complement each other and produce “complete” proteins.
Diets That May Restrict or Exclude This Food
• Low-residue diet
• Low-purine (antigout) diet
How to Buy This Food
Fresh, firm bright green pods, loose fresh peas, or snow pea pods. The pods should feel velvety; fresh pea pods should look full, with round fat peas inside.
Flat or wilted fresh pea pods (the peas inside are usually immature), fresh pea pods with gray flecks (the peas inside are usually overly mature and starchy), or yellowed fresh or snow pea pods.
How To Storing This Food
• Refrigerate fresh peas in the pod and use them quickly. As peas age their sugars turn to starch; the older the peas, the less sweet. Snow pea pods should also be stored in the refrigerator.
• Do not wash pea pods before you store them. Damp pods are likely to mold.
How To Preparing This Food
• To prepare fresh peas, wash the pods, cut off the end, pull away the string running down the side, and shell the peas. To prepare snow pea pods, wash them under cold running water, pull away the string, snip off the ends, then stir-fry or boil quickly to keep them crisp.
What Happens When You Cook This Food
• Chlorophyll, the pigment that makes green vegetables green, is sensitive to acids. When you heat green peas, the chlorophyll in the peas reacts chemically with the acids in the vegetable or in the cooking water, forming pheophytin, which is brown. The pheophytin turns the
cooked peas olive-drab.
• To keep cooked peas green, you have to keep the chlorophyll from reacting with acids. One way to do this is to cook the peas in lots of water, which will dilute the acids. A second alternative is to leave the lid off the pot when you cook the peas so that the volatile acids can float off into the air.
• Or you can steam the peas in very little water or stir-fry them so fast that they cook before the chlorophyll has time to react with the acids. No matter how you cook the peas, save the cooking liquid. It contains the peas’ water-soluble B vitamins.
How Other Kinds of Processing Affect This Food
Fresh green garden peas are immature seeds. The peas used to make dried split peas are mature seeds, may have twice as much starch as fresh peas, and are an extremely good source of protein.
• A cup and a half of dried split peas, which will weigh about 14 ounces (400 grams) when cooked, has 20 to 25 grams protein, half the RDA for a healthy adult. Split peas don’t have to be soaked before cooking; in fact, soaking drains the B vitamins. When buying split peas, look for well-colored peas in a tightly sealed box or bag.
• Store the peas in an air- and moistureproof container in a cool, dry cupboard. When you are ready to use them, pick the peas over, discarding any damaged, broken, or withered ones along with any pebbles or other foreign matter.
• Dried split peas contain hemagglutinens, naturally occurring chemicals that cause red blood cells to clump together. Although the hemagglutinens in peas are not inactivated by cooking, they are not known to cause any ill effects in the amounts we usually eat.
Amazing Medical Uses and/or Benefits
Lower levels of cholesterol.
Foods high in soluble gums and pectins appear to lower the amount of cholesterol in the blood and offer some protection against heart disease.
• There are currently two theories to explain how this may happen. The first theory is that the pectins may form a gel in your stomach that sops up fats and keeps them from being absorbed by your body.
• The second is that bacteria in the gut may feed on fiber in the peas, producing short chain fatty acids that inhibit the production of cholesterol in your liver.
• As a source of carbohydrates for people with diabetes. Legumes are digested very slowly, producing only a gradual rise on blood-sugar levels. As a result, the body needs less insulin to control blood sugar after eating beans than after eating some other high-carbohydrate foods (bread or potato).
• In studies at the University of Kentucky, a diet rich in beans, whole-grains, vegetables, and fruit developed at the University of Toronto enabled patients with type 1 diabetes (who do not produce any insulin themselves) to cut their daily insulin intake by 38 percent.
Adverse Effects Associated with This Food
According to the Merck Manual, legumes (peas, beans, peanuts) are one of the 12 foods most likely to trigger classic food allergy symptoms: hives, swelling of the lips and eyes, and upset stomach.
• The others are berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries), chocolate, corn, eggs, fish, milk, nuts, peaches, pork, shellfish, and wheat (see wheat cereals).
Production of uric acid.
Purines are the natural metabolic by-products of protein metabolism in the body. They eventually break down into uric acid, forming sharp crystals that may
cause gout if they collect in your joints or kidney stones if they collect in urine.
• Fresh and dried peas are a source of purines; eating them raises the concentration of purines in your body. Although controlling the amount of purine-producing foods in the diet may not significantly affect the course of gout (which is treated with medication such as allopurinol, which inhibits the formation of uric acid), limiting these foods is still part of many gout regimens.
Monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors are drugs used to treat depression. They inactivate naturally occurring enzymes in your body that metabolize tyramine, a substance found in many fermented or aged foods.
• Tyramine constricts blood vessels and increases blood pressure. If you eat a food containing tyramine while you are taking an MAO inhibitor, you cannot effectively eliminate the tyramine from your body. The result may be a hypertensive crisis. Some nutrition guides advise avoiding dried split peas while using MAO inhibitors.
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