Benefits of Dried Peas

Dried Peas:

Description


When fresh peas are not available or when you want to enjoy a starchier, hardier flavored legume, dried peas are perfect. They are available either whole or split, the latter being appropriately called "split peas." While we generally associate dried peas with a deep green color, they are also available in a yellow color, which offers a more delicate flavor and is the type generally preferred in northern European countries. Dried peas are produced by harvesting the peapods when they are fully mature and then drying them. Peas are known scientifically as Pisum sativum.

Nutritional Benefits


Peas are the individual seeds or seed pods of the pea plant (Pisum sativum). They're members of the legume family, which also includes beans. Peas are typically sold fresh and may also be dried without significantly affecting the nutritional value. Dried peas are a good source of vegetable protein and have almost no fat.

Preparation
The peapods are harvested after they're fully mature. The pods are then dried and the peas are removed from the pod. The skins are removed, which causes the individual seeds to split open.

Daily Values
A one ounce serving of dried peas contains a total of 99 calories, 68 of which are from carbohydrates, 28 from protein and 3 calories from fat. A serving of dried peas has 4.95 percent of the daily value (DV) for total calories, 6 percent of the DV for carbohydrates, 29 percent of the DV for dietary fiber and 1 percent of the DV for fat. These values are based on a diet of 2,000 calories per day.

Carbohydrates
A serving of dried peas contains about 17 grams of total carbohydrates, which consists of 10 grams of pure carbohydrates and 7 grams of digestible fiber.

Fat
A serving of dried peas contains a total of 0.3 grams of fat. Each gram of fat contains 9 calories, so a serving of dried peas contains 3 calories. This is all unsaturated fat, as dried peas have no significant amount of saturated fat.

Protein
A serving of dried peas contains 7 grams of protein.

Minerals
A serving of dried peas has 16 milligrams (mg) of calcium, which is 1.6 percent of the daily recommended intake (DRI) for calcium. It also contains 278 mg of potassium, which is 6.5 percent of the DRI for potassium.

Health Benefits


Dried peas, a small but nutritionally mighty member of the legume family, are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Not only can dried peas help lower cholesterol, they are also of special benefit in managing blood-sugar disorders since their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal.

Fiber is far from all that dried peas have to offer. Dried peas also provide good to excellent amounts of four important minerals, two B-vitamins, and protein--all with virtually no fat. As if this weren't enough, dried peas also feature isoflavones (notably daidzein). Isoflavones are phytonutrients that can act like weak estrogens in the body and whose dietary consumption has been linked to a reduced risk of certain health conditions, including breast and prostate cancer.

Dried Peas are Packed with Fiber
Check a chart of the fiber content in foods and you'll see legumes leading the pack. Dried peas, like other legumes, are rich in soluble fiber. Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract that binds bile (which contains cholesterol) and carries it out of the body. Research studies have shown that insoluble fiber not only helps to increase stool bulk and prevent constipation, but also helps prevent digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis. A single cup of cooked dried peas provides 65.1% of the daily value for fiber.

Dried Peas Provide Energy to Burn While Stabilizing Blood Sugar
In addition to its beneficial effects on the digestive system and the heart, soluble fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels. If you have insulin resistance, hypoglycemia or diabetes, legumes like dried peas can really help you balance blood sugar levels while providing steady, slow-burning energy. Studies of high fiber diets and blood sugar levels have shown the dramatic benefits provided by these high fiber foods. Researchers compared two groups of people with type 2 diabetes who were fed different amounts of high fiber foods.

One group ate the standard American Diabetic diet, which contains 24 grams of fiber/day, while the other group ate a diet containing 50 grams of fiber/day. Those who ate the diet higher in fiber had lower levels of both plasma glucose (blood sugar) and insulin (the hormone that helps blood sugar get into cells). The high fiber group also reduced their total cholesterol by nearly 7%, their triglyceride levels by 10.2% and their VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoprotein--the most dangerous form of cholesterol) by 12.5%.

Take Dried Peas to Heart
In a study that examined food intake patterns and risk of death from coronary heart disease, researchers followed more than 16,000 middle-aged men in the U.S., Finland, The Netherlands, Italy, former Yugoslavia, Greece and Japan for 25 years. Typical food patterns were: higher consumption of dairy products in Northern Europe; higher consumption of meat in the U.S.; higher consumption of vegetables, legumes, fish, and wine in Southern Europe; and higher consumption of cereals, soy products, and fish in Japan. When researchers analyzed this data in relation to the risk of death from heart disease, they found that legumes were associated with an 82% reduction in risk!

In addition to their stellar fiber content, dried peas also feature other heart healthy nutrients. They are a good source of potassium, which may decrease the growth and development of blood vessel plaques and is also good for lowering high blood pressure. A cup of cooked peas will supply you with 20.3% of your daily need for potassium.

Sensitive to Sulfites? Dried Peas May Help
Dried peas are an excellent source of the trace mineral, molybdenum, an integral component of the enzyme sulfite oxidase, which is responsible for detoxifying sulfites. Sulfites are a type of preservative commonly added to prepared foods like delicatessen salads and salad bars. Persons who are sensitive to sulfites in these foods may experience rapid heartbeat, headache or disorientation if sulfites are unwittingly consumed. If you have ever reacted to sulfites, it may be because your molybdenum stores are insufficient to detoxify them. A cup of cooked dried peas provides 196.0% of the daily value for molybdenum.

Consumption Tips

Before preparing dried peas, whether whole or split, inspect and remove any debris or dirt. Whole peas need to be soaked in cold water for at least eight hours before cooking, while split peas do not need this extra preparation. To prepare peas, place the legumes in a saucepan using three cups of fresh water for each cup of peas. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cover. Whole peas generally take about an hour to become tender while split peas only take about 30 minutes. Foam may form during the first 15 minutes of cooking, which can simply be skimmed off.

Caution

Dried peas contain naturally-occurring substances called purines. Purines are commonly found in plants, animals, and humans. In some individuals who are susceptible to purine-related problems, excessive intake of these substances can cause health problems. Since purines can be broken down to form uric acid, excess accumulation of purines in the body can lead to excess accumulation of uric acid.

The health condition called "gout" and the formation of kidney stones from uric acid are two examples of uric acid-related problems that can be related to excessive intake of purine-containing foods. For this reason, individuals with kidney problems or gout may want to limit or avoid intake of purine-containing foods such as dried peas. Yet, recent research has suggested that purines from meat and fish increase risk of gout, while purines from plant foods fail to change the risk.
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