Split peas are just for soup, right? Wrong. It’s time to put the spotlight on this underappreciated legume because it is not only a delicious way of getting more fiber into your diet but also one of nature’s healthiest foods. In fact, split peas offer an impressive list of nutritional benefits. The health benefits of split peas include their ability to improve digestion, lower blood sugar levels, fight cancer, prevent osteoporosis and promote weight loss. They are also a good source of antioxidants1.
Split peas are cheap and easy to prepare. You can buy them dried or canned; both forms come with added salt, but you can easily control the amount that ends up in your dish. You can also find a variety of split peas, such as green peas, yellow peas, and red. All three varieties come from the same plant but have different cooking times and require different amounts of water.
Green split peas are native to the Middle East and Asia Minor, where they have been cultivated for thousands of years. In fact, records indicate that as early as 1600 B.C., they were used to feed Egyptian pharaohs. The Jews considered them sacred, and in the Bible, split peas are one of the foods traditionally served on Passover along with horseradish, parsley, and roasted lamb shank for good luck.
Split peas come from the pod of a legume plant called Pisum sativum. A half-cup of cooked split peas provides about 130 calories, as well as 8 grams of protein, 16 grams of carbohydrates, and 2 grams of fiber. Split peas are packed with minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as vitamins B6 and K. They also contain some calcium2.
They’re extremely helpful in lowering cholesterol because they are high in both soluble fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends including dietary fibers such as split peas to help lower your risk for heart disease. They’re complex carbohydrates, so they’re slowly digested and absorbed instead of causing a spike in blood sugar levels.
In addition to helping you lose weight, split peas can help keep you from gaining weight as well. They are very high in resistant starch, a type of indigestible carbohydrate that acts as a dietary fiber because it contributes bulk to your stool. It’s also responsible for some of the feeling of fullness you get after eating it. Related: 5 Easy High Fiber Smoothies to Improve Digestion From Food Bloggers
Split peas are a good source of protein, which is important because vegans who don’t consume meat or dairy need to be sure they’re consuming enough protein while maintaining a balanced diet that consists of all the macronutrients, including fats and carbs. Split peas offer numerous health benefits.
Split peas are full of antioxidants that can fight cancer-causing free radicals. These compounds include beta carotene and the minerals selenium, manganese, and zinc. Regular consumption of split peas has been shown to reduce inflammation in people with arthritis and asthma, as well as ease the discomfort associated with these conditions3.
Split peas have an important mineral that is usually thought of in relation to bone health: calcium. This trace mineral plays a key role in building and maintaining strong bones, and it’s sometimes taken as a supplement to treat or prevent osteoporosis. However, the calcium found in split peas is easier for your body to digest and absorb. Split peas are also a good source of folic acid, another important B vitamin that can protect you from certain birth defects. They also contain some vitamin A and iron, which can help you maintain a healthy immune system.
Health Benefits of Split Peas
Antioxidants are powerful molecules that help protect the body from illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. Split peas contain tons of antioxidants, including beta carotene, selenium, manganese, and zinc4. Consuming a diet high in these compounds may also help fight rheumatoid arthritis. Polyphenol antioxidants are also found in peas, which may play a role in reducing inflammation.
2. High fiber content
Fiber is an indigestible nutrient that helps you stay regular and prevents constipation. Split peas are particularly rich in soluble fiber, which may help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels. The grams of dietary fiber in split peas contain nearly half of the recommended daily intake of fiber. Fiber may also help prevent diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Field peas are an excellent source of fiber.
3. Heart Health
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S., but the health benefits of split peas can greatly reduce your risk of developing this condition. One study found that people who ate at least 2 servings of split peas per week had a 34 percent lower risk of death from heart disease than those who consumed the legume less than once every 4 weeks5.
Osteoporosis is a common bone disorder that leads to brittle bones and increases your risk for fractures. Split peas are rich in minerals that help boost bone health, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Essential amino acids, vitamin b1, and vitamin K can also help protect your bones.
5. Boosts Eye Health
The health benefits of split peas are loaded with beta carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. This fat-soluble nutrient helps keep your eyes healthy by fighting free radicals that can damage cells in your eyes. Vitamin A also boosts the immune system and helps keep your eyesight sharp by preventing macular degeneration, which is a condition that causes loss of vision as you age.
6. Weight Loss
Split peas are packed with soluble fiber, which can help you feel full longer so you tend to eat less food overall throughout the day. Soluble fiber can also help regulate your blood sugar, so it’s not as likely to spike and crash, which reduces cravings for sweets. And because split peas are low in calories, switching to this superfood is an easy way to lose weight and handle weight management.
7. Blood Sugar Control
Split peas are believed to help stabilize blood sugar levels due to their high fiber and significant levels of protein. This is a great benefit for those who have diabetes, as both conditions are linked to elevated blood sugar levels.
8. Heartburn Relief
Split peas contain potassium, which helps balance the body’s natural pH level and boost its resistance against heartburn. In addition, because split peas are high in fiber, this superfood can help relieve indigestion and bloating.
9. Healthy Skin and Hair
Split peas contain selenium, a nutrient that is important for healthy skin and hair. Selenium boosts the antioxidant activity of vitamin E, which prevents free radical damage to your cells. In turn, this provides you with a youthful glow and ensures that your skin remains smooth and wrinkle-free.
10. Nails Health
In addition to selenium, the health benefits of split peas are rich in zinc, which helps maintain healthy nails, skin, and hair. Zinc is also important for keeping your immune system strong to protect against common infections like colds.
11. Protects Against Cataracts
Split peas are high in vitamin C, which prevents oxidative damage that can lead to cataracts. Vitamin A is also important for eye health because it keeps your lenses clear and allows you to see well in low-light conditions. Vitamin C boosts immunity so you are less likely to catch a cold, which is another common cause of cataracts.
12. High blood pressure
Split peas contain potassium and magnesium, both minerals that lower blood pressure. Replacing sodium with whole, natural foods like split peas will help reduce your risk of high blood pressure. Together these nutrients work to relax the walls of your arteries so blood flows freely around the body.
13. Prevents cardiovascular disease
Split peas are a good source of folate, a B-vitamin that plays an important part in a healthy cardiovascular system. Folate reduces levels of homocysteine, an amino acid linked to heart disease and stroke. This is because your body produces too much homocysteine if it doesn’t have enough folate. Split peas also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been proven to promote heart health. Reducing the risk of heart disease.
14. Prevents cancer
Split peas contain phytoestrogens, plant chemicals that mimic the activity of estrogen in the body. Phytoestrogens play a valuable role in preventing and treating various types of cancer, including uterine, ovarian, and prostate cancer. The health benefits of split peas have antioxidant properties that fight free radicals in the body, which contribute to cancer development.
15. Improves Digestive Health
Split peas are high in fiber, which makes them an ideal food for promoting digestive health. Soluble fiber soaks up body fluids in the digestive tract which is then removed from the body along with the waste. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool which makes it easier to pass through the digestive tract. Fiber also stimulates peristalsis, which allows you to eliminate waste more easily without straining. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition that affects your digestive system and split peas can help ease its symptoms.
16. Boosts Energy Levels
B vitamins are essential for producing energy from the food you eat. They are also involved in cell metabolism, which keeps your cells healthy and prevents fatigue. B vitamins work to break down carbohydrates, protein, and fat for use throughout the body. This prevents them from building up in the blood, instead of allowing your cells to use them as fuel. Split peas are a good source of thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin.
17. Reduces Hot flashes
Split peas are rich in vitamin K, which can help reduce hot flashes. Vitamin K is important for blood vessels, which often become weakened during menopause. In turn, this causes blood vessels to widen and leak fluid into surrounding tissues. These changes cause hot and cold flashes and night sweats.
The main difference between split peas and regular peas is that split peas have had the outer shell removed. Split peas are grown naturally in pods, which split open when ripe.
Split peas nutritional value:
Serving Size: 1 cup (164 g) Amounts Per Serving % Daily Value * Calories 225
- Calories from Fat 4
- Total Fat 0.5 g 1 %
- Saturated Fat 0 g 0 %
- Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
- Sodium 10 mg 0 %
- Total Carbohydrate 40.1 g 13 %
- Dietary Fiber 15.7 g 62 %
- Sugars 5.2 g
- Protein 12.2 g 24%
- Vitamin A 47%
- Vitamin C 22%
- Calcium 9%
- Iron 20%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Split peas are a great addition to a healthy diet. Its low glycemic index is beneficial for diabetics. It is also gluten-free and vegan-friendly. As a result, it’s frequently used in diabetic cooking and vegan cuisine.