What you need to know:
- If you do not consume peas often, it is time to start since they contain a number of nutrients that are beneficial to your health.
Green peas are categorised as legumes and are readily available. A cup of fresh peas goes for Shs2,000 on the streets and in most markets, a kilogramme of dried peas costs between Shs3,500 to Shs4,000.
According to Amanda Twebaze, a nutritionist, peas are a good source of vitamins A, B, C and E, zinc, and other antioxidants that strengthen your immune system and fight inflammation.
Green peas are a perfect option for vegetarians and other people who do not eat animal products. Protein is important for promoting muscle strength and bone health.
“Green peas have high amounts of protein which is important for maintenance of our body structures, weight maintenance, repair of injured body tissue, regulating blood sugar, muscle strength and tone,” Twebaze says.
Green peas are one of the best plant-based sources of protein and are very filling and have a high amount of fibre. Protein works hand in hand with fibre to slow digestion and keep your appetite under control, which helps in weight management.
“Green peas are a great source of soluble fibre which aids the movement of food through the digestive tract. It also helps in managing cholesterol levels by lowering Low Density Lipoprotein (usually known as bad cholesterol),” she says.
Green peas also have a high content of vitamin A. They can provide up to 34 per cent of the amount of vitamin A your body needs in a day. Vitamin A is essential for eye skin and hair health. It also acts as an anti-oxidant against for example infections.
Although green peas contain several nutrients, it is important to note that they contain anti-nutrients (substances found in foods such as legumes and grains which may interfere with digestion and mineral absorption).
The anti-nutrients may interfere with the absorption of minerals such as iron, calcium, zinc and magnesium and are sometimes associated with symptoms such as gas and bloating and may interfere with nutrient absorption.
This is likely to cause malnutrition and has a great impact on the people who greatly depend on legumes as staple food. Twebaze remarks that the levels of these anti-nutrients are a bit lower in peas than in other legumes, so they are unlikely to cause problems unless you eat them frequently.
Green peas are best cooked after soaking in order to reduce their phytic acid and lectin content which are examples of anti-nutrients found in many plant foods including pulses. This can reduce undesirable effects associated with eating peas such as bloating, stomach pain and irritability.
“Cooking them until they are tender is also important in reducing these effects. The best form, however, to eat green peas is in their sprouted form (the point when they have started germinating), not only to reduce the anti-nutrients content but at this stage, their nutrient value is highest,” Twebaze says.
Twebaze says both fresh and dried peas are nutritious and so should be alternated. “However, fresh peas have more to offer since they have more fibre and their water soluble vitamins are still intact. However, dried peas have more iron content than the fresh peas. They are also more affordable and sustainable if you are living on a tight budget,” she advises.
Supports healthy pregnancy
Chances are your first visit to your obstetrician after finding out that you are pregnant coincided with the recommendation of consuming additional folic acid to support the development of your baby’s nervous system to reduce the risk of certain birth defects.
Green peas contain folate, which is superior to synthetic folic acid in a few ways, such as offering improved absorption and a greater spectrum of activity. A single cup serving size of green peas supplies approximately 25 per cent of your daily recommended intake of this B vitamin, helping bring you closer to your daily goal.