Let's admit it, we often underestimate the value of peas. Picture: Pexels/R Khalil
Let's admit it, we often underestimate the value of peas. Picture: Pexels/R Khalil

The benefits of green peas in your diet and why they are healthy

By Lutho Pasiya Time of article published Nov 23, 2021

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Let's admit it, we often underestimate the value of peas. Whether they are shoved aside on plates or thrown away after dinner, most people avoid eating them. However, green peas have many health benefits.

The next time they are on your plate, consider giving them a chance. But before we get down to the benefits, let’s discuss a little about green peas.

Also called garden peas, they are spherical and have been a part of the human diet for generations. For the uninitiated, they are not vegetables, but a part of the legume family.

But even then, some consider it a starchy vegetable, since they contain complex carbs. So, why must you make green peas a part of your diet?

Well, there are various reasons and below corporate nutritionist for KOO, Arthur Ramoroka outlines those benefits.

High-fibre foods, like peas, are essential for your gut health

The humble fresh garden pea doesn’t get enough credit as a low-fat source of dietary fibre and antioxidants. Peas, along with other legumes and vegetables, are the best go-to for a healthy gut microbiome.

The fibre they contain promotes the growth of ‘good bacteria’ in the gut microbiome to improve digestive wellness, which is essential for the body’s optimal functioning.

Peas also help to reduce the likelihood of inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and colon cancer.

A 2009 study found that eating legumes, such as peas, daily lowered the risk of stomach cancer and other cancers by up to 50%.

The immune and health-boosting qualities of peas

Incorporating vegetables and legumes into our daily meals have the potential to protect us against various illnesses.

Due to their high levels of magnesium, potassium, calcium and folate, garden peas are good for heart health, for example. Folate is a type of Vitamin B that aids the body in producing blood cells, DNA and RNA.

A healthy gut also positively impacts our immune system and metabolic function. Research shows that around 70% of our immune system function is housed in our gut.

Peas promote positive mental health

Our eating behaviours are closely linked to our mental health and emotional wellbeing. A diverse gut microbiome from eating a healthy and balanced fibre-rich diet positively affects brain behaviour and function and may help improve mental wellness, according to findings by the Eat Well Live Well State of Nutrition in South Africa report.

Being aware of which foods impact your moods, and how they do so, may be one of the many ways in which you can help to manage the symptoms of very mild depression, according to research by Very Well Mind – that’s not to say that you shouldn’t consult a medical doctor.

Legumes, such as peas, regulate blood sugar levels

Peas are low-calorie, fibre and protein-rich complex carbohydrates that have a low glycaemic index, and hence help to regulate blood sugar levels by preventing sugar spikes and dips, which may, in turn, impact your moods. Overall, this also lowers bad cholesterol.

And, here’s a recipe Ramoroka suggests you try using peas.

Spring buddha bowl with KOO peas in brine daltjies and green emulsion

Serves: 6

Ingredients

For the KOO peas in brine daltjies

180g chickpea flour

2 tbsp cake flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp cumin and coriander (ground)

1 ½ tbsp turmeric

1 tbsp chilli flakes (optional)

2 tbsp sesame seeds, plus extra for sprinkling

1 cup KOO peas in brine

5 spring onions, thinly sliced

1 large coriander, large handful, roughly chopped

1 cup spinach, finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 XL egg, lightly whisked

1 cup water

Canola oil for frying

For the pickled radish

1 cup white wine vinegar

½ cup water

Granulated sugar

1 tbsp whole peppercorns

5g thyme

50g radish, thinly sliced

For the green emulsion

½ cup olive oil

Juice and zest of one lemon

1 ½ tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp honey

½ cup basil, roughly chopped

½ cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

To assemble

1 cup sugar snaps, finely sliced

1 large cucumber, de-seeded and roughly chopped

2 avocado, roughly chopped

2 butternut cups, roughly chopped and roasted with olive oil, paprika, salt, and pepper

300g goat’s cheese or feta, broken into chunks

Pea shoots, fresh basil leaves, and thinly sliced spring onion, to serve

Method

Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add the KOO peas in brine, spring onion, herbs, and spinach, season well with salt and pepper, and mix well. Stir in the egg and enough water to form a soft cake-like batter.

Heat about 5cm canola oil in a large frying pan, wok, or small pot. Use a tablespoon to drop small amounts of the batter into the hot oil (test that the oil is hot enough by placing a nail-sized amount in the oil; if it sizzles, the oil is ready).

Fry on each side for roughly three minutes or until golden brown. Drain on a kitchen towel and season again with salt and some more sesame seeds. Keep warm.

Combine all the ingredients for the pickled radish, except for the vegetable, in a small pot. Bring to the boil and add the radish. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Make the emulsion, by placing all the ingredients in a jug blender and pulsing until smooth – alternatively place them in a jug and blend with a stick blender (you are welcome to add more lemon juice or a little water if the mixture struggles to blend). Season well.

Divide the rest of the ingredients and pickled radish among 6 bowls to assemble. Top with 2-3 warm KOO peas in brine daltjies and some green emulsion.

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