What are peas?

Peas are not actually a vegetable but a small, edible legume and belong to the same family as lentils, chickpeas, beans and peanuts. In the UK, peas are in season between May to October, but the majority of peas we consume are frozen, making them an all-year staple.


Health benefits of peas include:

  1. Good source of plant-based protein
  2. May improve blood sugar management
  3. May support digestive health
  4. May support heart health
  5. May be cancer protective

Discover our full range of health benefit guides and check out some of our favourite pea recipes, including pea and mint soup and pea, ham hock and watercress salad.

Nutritional profile of peas

An 80g (cooked) serving contains:

  • 63kcal/263kj
  • 5.4g protein
  • 1.3g fat
  • 8.0g carbohydrates
  • 4.5g fibre
  • 184mg potassium
  • 104mg phosphorus
  • 1.2mg iron
  • 13mg vitamin C
Peas and spaghetti

Are frozen or fresh peas healthier?

Nutritionally, there is little difference between fresh and frozen peas, making frozen a healthy, cost-effective option.

Top health benefits of peas

1. Good source of plant-based protein

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As they are rich in fibre and one of the best plant sources of protein, peas are a satisfying component of a meal. They are also a useful vegan source of iron, which is needed for making red blood cells and transporting oxygen around the body.

2. May improve blood sugar management

With a low glycaemic index (GI) and a high fibre content, peas are a useful inclusion if you need to monitor your blood sugar levels. Peas contain starch in the form of amylose, which slows our digestion and studies support they may help improve our blood sugar balance. Peas also contain nutrients like magnesium, B vitamins and vitamin C, all of which help support blood sugar management.

3. May support digestive health

Being rich in fibre, peas support digestive health and the fibre they provide fuels the beneficial gut microbes which play a pivotal role in our health. Much of the fibre content is soluble, which may alleviate constipation. Eating more fibre is associated with a reduced risk of a number of conditions including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

4. May support heart health

Peas contain heart-friendly minerals including magnesium, potassium and calcium and are also rich in antioxidant nutrients, like vitamin C, as well as phytonutrients including carotenoids and flavanols which are heart protective and support cardiovascular function. The soluble fibre peas contain help us manage cholesterol levels, especially LDL cholesterol.

5. May be cancer protective

Regularly including legumes, like peas, in your diet may reduce the risk of cancer due to their high antioxidant levels. Peas also contain natural compounds called saponins, these compounds have been shown to help protect against certain forms of cancer.

A young child eating peas

Are peas safe for everyone to eat?

Legumes are a common allergen, and peas are no exception. Special attention should be taken if you have been diagnosed with a legume allergy, this might include peanuts and soya. Like other legumes, peas contain plant compounds including lectins and phytic acid that may inhibit our absorption of some of their nutrients including iron, magnesium and calcium. Peas also contain carbs, known as FODMAPs, these escape digestion and are fermented by bacteria in the gut and in some sensitive people may cause bloating, discomfort and wind.

Read more from the NHS about food allergies and when to seek help.

So, are peas good for you?

Unless you have an allergy, peas are a healthy food and make a useful contribution to a varied and balanced diet for most people. Those with a digestive sensitivity to FODMAPs should be mindful of portion size.

If you are concerned about food allergies, please consult your GP or a registered dietitian for guidance.

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Check put our healthy pea and frozen pea recipe collections:

And why not try our favourite pea recipes:
Pasta with salmon & peas
Leek, pea & watercress soup
Corn & split pea chowder
Herby broccoli & pea soup
Orzotto with pancetta & peas

This article was last reviewed on 29 April 2024 by Kerry Torrens.

Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.


All health content on goodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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