Peas Packed with Surprising Health Benefitsby Monica Lloyd on 07/24/16
By Monica Lloyd
Fresh, light, lively sweet peas embellish our menu 365 days a year. With a plethora of culinary uses, these humble, but popular little veggies (in reality – legumes) are amazingly versatile and pack some unexpected health benefits.
Some of the opening credits of pea’s long list include anti-inflammatory inhibitor nutrients, pisumsaponins I and II and pisomosides, most of which are characteristic of these green gems almost exclusively. Likewise, their antioxidant support is a high on this list for better overall health and well-being. These include vitamins A, C and K (important for strong bones) along with folate and other important B vitamins.
Traditionally thought of as being high in starch, peas are surprisingly low on the glycemic index, while being low in calories and fat. Being high in both protein and fiber makes them a good choice to help keep blood sugar in line and a filling food for dieters.
Your small intestines contain little fibers known as villi. These hair-like structures absorb nutrients as your food, now known as chime, passes through your digestive system. Amazingly, peas are well documented to help heal the villi of the small intestine. In a nut shell, this means better absorption of nutrients as the damage is being repaired, especially for celiac sufferers. Pea juice is the best for this healing process.
According to one health advocate, when served warm, pea juice with a pinch of cardamom and ginger is said to help relax spasms associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Now, that’s what I call good stuff.
Fascinating discoveries are always being made in regards to free radical damage support and repair. Lutein and zeaxanthin are two key nutrients found in peas and are known to improve eye health on many levels.
Moreover, peas are said to help with things like anti-aging, cardiovascular support (including lowering cholesterol) and possibly reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Amazingly, we’ve only scratched the surface of the many benefits of making peas a regular part of your diet. Recent findings in a Mexico City study have shown to help reduce the risk of cancer, specifically stomach cancer. A single serving of peas consumed daily is enough to greatly reduce your risk.
Minerals are the building blocks for many functions in our bodies, particularly of our endocrine system. Peas include vital minerals like calcium, iron, copper, zinc, potassium, magnesium, molybdenum and manganese.
Peas are not only important to our health and wellbeing, but are significant to the health of our soil. They are among the list of crops that are known as nitrogen fixers that help build better soil for healthier produce. This is a great solution for organic growers.
To me peas are little green “pearls” that are just plain delicious. I love them any way you serve them. With their thin smooth outer layer and soft, creamy center cooked, canned, frozen, sprouted, juiced and fresh - alone or in salads, peas are a treat highly under estimated. I love the snap peas for their flavor and adornment on a veggie platter or in recipes.
Some of my favorite ways to enjoy peas are steamed with salt and butter, creamed, fresh in salads or as a side salad. Moreover, they are a great addition to stir fry, soups and casseroles. Who doesn’t love a bowl of hot split pea soup served with bread and butter on a cold winter day? Plus, never forget the ever popular shepherd’s pie; it just would not be the same without these tiny dainties. If you’ve never tried young pea sprouts, you are missing out. Relish this tasty pea salad as a fresh summer treat as you “beef” up your health and immunity!
Savory Pea Salad
1 bag of frozen peas or 2 cups raw shelled
1 cup of diced tomato ¾ c. chopped fresh fennel herb
1 T. olive oil 1 c. chopped green onion
1 juiced lemon ½ c. finely diced cucumber
1 large or 2 small avocados 1 tsp. salt or to taste
If you are using frozen peas, set them out to thaw. Mix fresh lemon juice, olive oil and mash the avocado to make a dressing mixture. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl; chill and serve.