3 Health Benefits Of Green Peas, Nutrition, & Side Effects

Reviewed by Shirley Briars, FdSc, RN
Written by Ravi Teja Tadimalla, Professional Certificate In Food, Nutrition & Health

The benefits of green peas make them a must-have addition to your diet. The green pea (Pisum sativum) grows in hard pods full of nutrition. Their starch content makes these legume seeds mildly sweet. Green peas are packed with dietary fiber, starch, protein, vitamins, and beneficial phytochemicals.

The high protein content of green peas makes them an ideal option for vegans and vegetarians. They are generally regarded as a complete protein source as they have the full complement of essential amino acids. However, one is low (methionine), so it is wise to consume them with foods that are richer in this amino acid, such as rice or eggs. This article discusses the benefits of green peas, their nutritional profile, and any potential side effects. Take a look.

Green Peas Nutrition Facts

  • A serving of peas (100 g) has 79 calories, 13 g of carbohydrates, and 4.5 grams each of protein and fiber. Green peas are a rich source of the B vitamins – they contain 65 µg of folate, 2.090 mg of niacin, and 0.266 mg of thiamin. They also contain vitamin B6 in adequate quantities (1).
  • Peas are an excellent source of vitamin A (765 IU), vitamin C (40 mg), vitamin E (0.13), and vitamin K (24.8 µg) (1).
  • They are rich in minerals, like selenium (1.8 µg) and zinc (1.24 mg), and phytonutrients, like ß-carotene (449 µg) and lutein-zeaxanthin (2477 µg) (1).
  • Flavanols, such as catechin and epicatechin, phenolic acids (caffeic and ferulic acid), and saponins are a few of the phytonutrients present in peas (1).

In the following section, we will explore the major health benefits of green peas.

Health Benefits Of Green Peas

1. May Help Manage Blood Sugar And Diabetes

Green peas contain complex carbohydrates that are good for managing blood sugar levels (2). They have a low glycemic index as they are rich in starch and fiber.

Foods with a low glycemic index help release the sugar into the blood slowly. This helps regulate blood sugar levels. Low GI foods are beneficial in the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes (2).

In mice studies, raw pea extracts could inhibit the activity of a particular enzyme (pancreatic amylase) involved in carbohydrate metabolism. This could explain the hypoglycemic effect of pea extracts in mice (3). More studies are needed to understand the anti-diabetic effects of green peas.

2. May Improve Digestion

Peas contain prebiotic sugars and fiber that may be beneficial in the digestive process. The galactose oligosaccharides in peas were found to help with the digestion in the large intestine (5).

Prebiotic sugars become fodder for the probiotic bacteria during digestion. This helps the good bacteria to use these sugars and convert them to products that are beneficial to our body.

The dietary fiber present in peas helps in improving the digestive function (5). Fiber helps in the movement of food through the digestive tract. This is essential for proper digestion and elimination of toxic substances.

Pea sprouts also have antimicrobial effects. The phenolic extracts of sprouted peas inhibited the growth of Helicobacter pylori, the ulcer-causing bacteria (6). Including green peas in the diet can improve the overall gastrointestinal function.

3. May Help Protect Against Some Chronic Diseases

Green peas have high a fiber content. Propionate, a product of fiber fermentation, was found to lower blood cholesterol levels in rats (7). Managing cholesterol levels can help prevent cardiovascular diseases.

An excess of low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, is harmful to the body. It clogs the arteries and may lead to heart disease. In studies on pigs on a high cholesterol diet, peas reduced their plasma levels of total and LDL cholesterol (8). The soluble fiber in green peas may also lower the risk of cardiac disease.

Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress can lead to cancer. The powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of green peas can fight oxidative damage and may help reduce cancer risk (9). These antioxidants bind to free radicals and reduce their ill effects on the body.

Extracts of peas exhibited anti-inflammatory activity in animal studies (10). Green peas contain certain inhibitors that have shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer (11).

Several other compounds in green peas, such as lectins and saponins, have also exhibited anticancer activity (12), (13).

Given the health benefits of green peas, it is wise to include them in the diet. They are easy to add into meals and are readily available to purchase or you can grow your own. However, peas may not suit everyone, and it is possible that they may cause certain side effects in some people.

Side Effects Of Green Peas

Green peas may lead to side effects in certain individuals. Always consult a doctor before making any changes to your diet.

Green peas contain anti-nutrients like phytic acid and lectins that may interfere with nutrient absorption. These anti-nutrients may also cause digestive problems (14), (15).

The phytic acid in peas may hamper the absorption of minerals like iron and zinc (16). This can eventually lead to nutritional deficiencies.

Lectins present in fresh peas can disturb the delicate balance of the immune system and bacterial population in the gut (15).

However, soaking, fermenting or cooking peas can potentially reduce these antinutrients (17). Also, reducing the portion size of peas can help decrease the risk of side effects.

The health benefits of green peas can be attributed to their rich nutrients, fiber, and protein. They are replete with phytonutrients and essential amino acids too. They can be added to your favorite salads, soups, or dishes. Intake of green peas may help manage blood sugar levels, improve digestion, and protect against chronic diseases. However, excess intake of green peas may cause digestive issues as they contain anti-nutrients. Hence, consume them in moderation to enjoy their maximum benefits.

However, be wary of their antinutrients. These can be reduced by soaking, fermenting, or cooking them. Prepare them properly and you will be able to enjoy the benefits of the peas to the maximum.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are peas good for weight loss?

Peas are high in protein and low in fat and may aid weight loss. Their fiber content promotes satiety.

Can green peas make you gain weight?

There is insufficient information available in this regard. Although some argue that the high starch content in peas may lead to weight gain, there is no research to support this statement. Consult your doctor before including green peas in your weight loss/weight gain regime.

How long do green peas take to cook?

It takes 2- 3 minutes to cook green peas. You can add the peas to water and bring them to a boil.

How do you cook green peas fast?

You can use a microwave to cook green peas fast.

Are green peas a complete protein?

Green peas are not a complete protein as they lack a few vital amino acids.

Are green peas good for skin?

Green peas are a good source of vitamin C and antioxidants. These help with collagen production and promote skin health. Vitamin C may also help reduce dark spots on the skin and promote an even complexion, although research is limited in this regard.

How to eat peas?

Peas can be eaten fresh or cooked. They go well with rice dishes, pastas, curries, and patties. Frozen green peas or canned green peas can also be incorporated into recipes instead of fresh green peas. Mashed peas are popular as baby food.


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Shirley Briars

Shirley is a registered nutritionist who specializes in weight loss, hormone balance, and food tolerance. She uses a functional medicine... more