Natural Health Tips

Peas: An Excellent Source of Fiber and Beneficial Proteins

Peas are packed with all kinds of health-beneficial nutrients, and new research has shown that proteins from the garden pea are associated with relieving symptoms of chronic kidney disease.

There are generally three types of peas that are commonly eaten: garden peas, snow peas (mangetout) and snap peas (or sugarsnap peas). Garden peas (Pisum sativum) are a legume that grows in rounded pods, with each pod containing several sweet, starchy peas. Snow peas are flatter than garden peas, and the shadows of the flat pea seeds can usually be seen within them. Snap peas, a cross between the garden and snow pea, have plump pods with a crisp, snappy texture. The pods of both snow peas and snap peas are edible, and both have a slightly sweeter taste than the garden pea.

Fresh green garden peas provide an excellent source of thiamine (vitamin B1), and they are also a good source of folic acid, and Vitamin A and C. Peas are a good source of protein, but they need to be combined with cereals like rice, pasta or bread to make them a complete protein.

All forms of peas are excellent sources of fiber, both soluble and insoluble forms. They therefore provide a feeling of fullness for longer, helping in weight control and keeping the digestive system healthy.

Health Benefits of Peas

A new, yet to be published study reports that proteins found in the yellow garden pea relieve symptoms of chronic kidney disease (CKD), and reduce hypertension, which is a major risk factor for CKD.

The research will be presented at the American Chemical Society's 237th National Meeting, and showed that protein-fed rats with kidney disease showed a 20 percent drop in blood pressure when compared to diseased rats on a normal diet. As the author noted "This is significant because a majority of CKD patients actually die from cardiovascular complications that arise from the high blood pressure associated with kidney malfunction."

The high nutritional profile of peas also makes them beneficial for overall health and wellness. They are a good source of vitamins that are necessary for carbohydrate, protein and lipid metabolism, and provide nutrients that help support the energy-producing cells and systems of the body.

Peas are also benefical for maintaining bone health. They are a very good source of vitamin K, which the body uses as osteocalcin, the major non-collagen protein in bone, whose role it is to anchor calcium molecules inside the bone. Therefore, without enough vitamin K, osteocalcin levels are inadequate and bone mineralization is impaired.

Tips for Using Peas

  • Peas are relatively easy to grow, and freshly- picked peas are not only superior in taste and texture, they are also more nutritious.

  • When buying them, look for peas bright green in color, firm and plump. To test the quality of snap peas, snap one open and see whether it is crisp.

  • Peas should be refrigerated as quickly as possible in order to preserve their sugar content, preventing it from turning into starch.