The humble pea. Peas really don’t get that much attention when compared to other star vegetables like kale, broccoli, garlic, and even tomatoes. Maybe it’s their size, their sweet taste, or the fact that they are inexpensive, easy to grow, and have been around forever that makes them less remarkable (though these factors should make them even more precious). But peas are indeed nutritious; loaded with health benefits and easy to incorporate into your diet, peas deserve your attention.
Anthony Gucciardi included peas in his article outlining “March superfoods” this past spring, and with good reason. He writes:
“A great source of not only vitamins A and C, but protein as well, peas are especially appealing to young children. While some children may shun healthy vegetables in favor of harmful processed food products, peas are often delicious to adults and toddlers alike. What’s more, peas are relatively inexpensive and often come in large quantities.”
But the benefits don’t stop with vitamins A and C. Peas also have vitamin K, thiamin, and fiber.
One 2009 study found that protein in peas is associated with a significant reduction in blood pressure—20% in rats fed an extract of the protein daily for eight weeks. Lead researcher Dr. Rotimi Aluko concluded that peas could provide natural protection against kidney disease through these blood pressure lowering effects.
Garden peas are rich in phytonutrients like saponins, phenolic acids, and flavanols like catechins and epicatechin (more commonly known for their beneficial presence in green tea and dark chocolate).
These antioxidants have been linked to the prevention of degenerative diseases including arthritis and Alzheimer’s, even providing anti-aging benefits by reducing damage from oxidative stress.
Author Dan Buettner says peas (as a type of legume), were a staple among history’s longest-living humans. Buettner interviewed numerous centenarians in his book “The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest”, and nearly all of them consumed legumes daily.
The bottom line is that peas are an amazingly healthful food. The fact that they are easy to find and add to your daily diet should only make them bigger stars in your produce line-up.