THE MIGHTY PEA
By Dr Sunni
This legume (it’s not a vegetable!), can only be described in one way, and one way only! Through the art of an alliterative accolade. The might pea- it’s powerful, protein-packed, punchy and oh so pleasing!
Now, I love the green pea more than most, but putting the personal bias aside, there is a wealth of evidence to support why the green pea helps to support good gut health that we should all be aware of. Here’s why:
Green peas contain an impressive amount of fibre, which beneficial for gut- and digestive- health (1).
They are protein packed, for instance, 100 grams contains around 5g protein. Pea protein extract has also been shown to positively affect gut bacteria, whilst increasing intestinal short-chain fatty acid levels, which are considered anti-inflammatory (2).
They are also rich in polyphenol antioxidants (1), which are reported to have positive effects against free radicals and considered to be anti-carcinogenic.
Peas have a relatively low glycemic index (GI), to support blood sugar level regulation (1)
They are micronutrient rich in Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium, as well as vitamins A, B1, B6, C, and K1. Pea fibre is also rich in arabinose – known to provide protective mechanisms against myocardial infarction (3).
But, be mindful. Though we talk a lot about micronutrients, peas as with most legumes also contain antinutrients (although lower in peas than other legumes) that can affect digestion and mineral absorption. Phytic acid (4) and lectins (5) may affect absorption of Calcium, Magnesium and Zinc.
For those with IBD/IBS on a low FODMAP (fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols – a group of non-digestible carbohydrates fermented by the gut known to cause gas) diet, you may want to reduce the amount of peas you consume. Otherwise, to ensure you reduce the effects of antinutrients, ensure you fully cook peas, consider sprouting and fermenting as well as eating reasonable amounts.
A perfect way of eating peas would be to have them in soups, and I have just the gut healthy recipe for you to enjoy whilst embracing your very own green pea pleasure here.
1. WJ Dahl. Review of the health benefits of peas (Pisum sativum L.). Br J Nutr. 2012 Aug;108
3. S Lim et al., Plant-based foods containing cell wall polysaccharides rich in specific active monosaccharides protect against myocardial injury in rat myocardial infarction models. Sci Rep. 2016; 6, 38728
4. RK Gupta et al., Reduction of phytic acid and enhancement of bioavailable micronutrients in food grains. J Food Sci Technol. 2015 Feb; 52(2): 676–684.