Please pass the peas!
By: Leanne Ely
We know that peas are sweet and starchy. We know they are fun to eat fresh out of the garden and we know that kids love them.
But did you know that peas are coming onto the cancer prevention radar screen?
Research has revealed that peas contain a polyphenol phytonutrient called coumestrol which lowers the risk of developing stomach cancer. All it takes is a daily serving of two milligrams or more of peas to gain this amazing health benefit. To give you an idea of how many peas you’ll have to eat to get 2 milligrams, it’s about a quarter cup serving.
Once you start studying simple green peas, it’s amazing how high their nutritional profile really is. Let’s have a look:
Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Peas are starchy, yes, but they are also chock full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients. They contain carotenoids, flavonoids and some very important anti-inflammatory phytonutrients called Pisumsaponins 1 and II and Pisomosides A and B. These special phytonutrients are almost exclusive to peas.
Vitamins. Peas contain Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C and K. They are full of manganese, protein, fiber, folate, phosphorous, magnesium, copper, iron, potassium and zinc. Holy nutritional powerhouse!
Omega 3. You probably don’t think of omega-3 when you think of peas, but these sweet little veggies contain quite a bit of this essential fat.
Blood sugar regulation. Foods like peas which contain protein and fiber, help pace the digestive process properly, ensuring the breakdown of starches to sugar remains on an even keel. This helps to keep blood sugar levels steady.
On top of all of those benefits, peas may also reduce the risk of heart disease, arthritis and type 2 diabetes.
As I mentioned before, peas are on the starchy side, so don’t overdo it! A half cup a day is just right.
Shopping for peas
I suggest buying fresh or frozen peas rather than the canned variety which are generally quite salty. But read your labels! Many brands of frozen peas sneak in lots of sodium. Look for a good, organic brand with only “peas” listed on the ingredient label.
When shopping for fresh garden peas, choose peas with velvety pods that are smooth and firm. Avoid peas with pods that are yellowish or light green in color. You can tell how full the pods are by shaking them. If there’s a rattling sound, there’s probably too much empty room in that pod.
If you prefer snow peas to garden peas (snow peas are the variety with the flat pods), choose pods that are on the smaller side because they tend to be more sweet than larger ones.
Fresh peas are best eaten the day you buy them.
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