What are peas?
Peas are small, round, edible legumes which means they’re not actually a vegetable. Being a legume, they belong in the same family as lentils, chickpeas, beans and peanuts, and they are grown in pods on a vine. Once the pods are well-filled with peas, they are ripe for picking. The pods are then opened (also known as shelling) and the peas are then removed for consumption.
Peas are in season in the UK from around May to October, but the majority of peas are frozen and so can be bought all year round.
Peas, because they are a legume, are naturally high in protein containing 5.5g per 100g portion, and fibre at 5.6g per 100g. They are low in fat, just 1.6g per 100g, low in carbohydrates at 10g per 100g, and low in calories with 79 calories per 100g. Their low carbohydrate content also means they are naturally low in sugar with just 1.2g per 100g.
Nutritionally, peas are a good source of some vitamins and minerals. In particular they are a good vegan source of iron which is needed for making new red blood cells and transporting oxygen around the body, and B vitamins, which help us convert the energy from our food.
They are also a good source of phosphorus with just one 100g portion providing over 20% of our daily requirement. We need phosphorus to help build strong bones and teeth.
Green peas also contain the phytonutrients lutein and zeaxanthin, which have both been shown to provide benefits to eye health and reduce the risk of macular degeneration and eye-related diseases.
How many peas count as one of your 5-a-day?
Just one 80g serving, or ½ cup, of peas counts as one of your 5-a-day because they are a legume and not a vegetable, therefore eating more than 80g a day will not increase your five-a-day count.
Peas are extremely versatile and can accompany many meals as a side dish to meat or fish, be added to pasta and rice dishes, made into a soup, or cooked and cooled ready to be used in salads.
Are frozen peas as healthy as fresh?
Nutritionally, there is not much difference between fresh and frozen peas, making frozen peas just a good an option as fresh.
Can you be allergic to peas?
Legumes are a common allergen, and peas are no exception. Special attention should be taken if there are other legume allergies present.
The signs of an allergy normally develop within seconds of consuming the food and includes tingling of the mouth and/or tongue, swelling of the face, eyes or throat, and wheezing.
Whilst some allergic reactions can be mild they can also be life-threatening so if any signs of a severe allergy appear, such as breathing difficulties, trouble swallowing or speaking, or they feel dizzy and faint, call 999 immediately.
Read more from the NHS about food allergies and when to seek help.
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This page was published on 16 July 2019.
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 Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.
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