Botanical Name: Pisum sativum
Family: Fabaceae (Legume)
Green peas belong to the botanical species Pisum sativum. They are a part of the legume family, Fabaceae. The plant is an annual vine that produces pods containing peas. The pea pods are typically green and elongated, enclosing several round or wrinkled peas.
Green peas are not only delicious but also packed with essential nutrients. Here is the nutritional information for green peas per 100 grams of raw peas:
Carbohydrates: 14.5 grams
Protein: 5.4 grams
Fat: 0.4 grams
Fiber: 5.1 grams
Vitamin A: 765 IU
Vitamin C: 40 mg
Vitamin K: 24.8 mcg
Folate: 65 mcg
Potassium: 244 mg
Iron: 1.5 mg
Calcium: 25 mg
Magnesium: 33 mg
Green peas are low in calories and fat, making them a healthy addition to meals. They are a good source of dietary fiber, which aids in digestion and supports overall gut health. Peas are also rich in vitamins A, C, and K, which contribute to immune function, collagen production, and bone health.
The Latin word “pisum,” which originally referred to the garden pea, is where the word “pea” originates. The Old English term “pise,” which later changed into “pease” and then “pea” in the 17th century, is where the English word “pea” first appeared.
The field pea, which was indigenous to central Asia and the Middle East, is thought to have been the ancestor of the green pea, technically known as Pisum sativum. Peas are one of the first food crops that humans have farmed, having been grown for thousands of years.
For a large portion of their early history, peas were first eaten in their dry state. Around 9,000 years ago, peas were domesticated and first grown for their delicious pods in the Near East. Archaeological sites in Egypt and the Middle East, including Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, have shown evidence of pea production.
Peas increasingly rose in prominence as a fresh dish throughout the 16th century as European farming practices changed. This involved the creation of new kinds with bigger, more tender peas and a sweeter flavor. Green peas became a common vegetable in many European cuisines as their ubiquity increased.
Green peas are now cultivated and eaten in almost every climate zone on the planet. With a 3 million ton yearly production, Canada is now the leading producer and exporter of peas. France, China, Russia, and India are further significant green pea producers.
Despite being the world’s top producer of peas, India also happens to be the world’s biggest importer of this legume because of its widespread use there. Green peas are used in a variety of culinary applications and are extensively consumed in a variety of forms, including fresh, frozen, tinned, and dried.
- Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Benefits: Green peas are a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances catechin, epicatechin, alpha- and beta-carotene, phenolic acids, polyphenols, and omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients can reduce the risk of long-term conditions including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and arthritis from occurring.
- Blood Sugar Regulation: Green peas are high in fiber and protein, which regulate the digestion and breakdown of starches into sugars. This helps maintain steady blood sugar levels and can be beneficial for individuals with diabetes or those concerned about blood sugar control.
- Heart Health Promotion: The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of green peas support cardiovascular health. They help protect blood vessels, lower the risk of cardiovascular problems, and provide omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health.
- Protection Against Stomach Cancer: Green peas contain polyphenols, such as coumestrol, which have been associated with a decreased risk of stomach cancer. The antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in green peas may contribute to their cancer-preventive benefits.
- Bone Health: Vitamin K1, which is abundant in green peas, is essential for bone health because it activates osteocalcin, a protein that binds calcium molecules inside the bone. They also include additional nutrients necessary for preserving bone density and lowering the risk of osteoporosis, including vitamin B6, folic acid, and others.
- Energy and Overall Wellness: Thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, riboflavin, and niacin, which are necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids, are found in green peas. In addition, they are a strong source of iron and vitamin C, two nutrients that help with the immune system and energy generation as well as cell protection.
- Cancer Prevention: By lowering the incidence of several cancer types, including leukemia, lymphoma, lung, colorectal, breast, prostate, cervix, and ovarian cancers, green peas’ high vitamin C concentration helps prevent cancer. Strong antioxidant vitamin C preserves DNA, improves immune system performance, and prevents the synthesis of substances that cause cancer.
- Fresh Garden Peas: Look for firm, velvety, and smooth pods. The color should be a lively medium green. Avoid peas with light or dark green color, yellowing, whitish appearance, or gray speckles. Avoid puffy, water-soaked, or mildewed pods. Shake the pod gently to check if there is a slight rattling sound, indicating sufficient peas inside.
- Snow Peas: Choose flat pods where you can see the shape of the peas through the shiny, non-opaque pod. Smaller snow peas tend to be sweeter.
- Snap Peas: Snap one open to check for crispness. They should be bright green, firm, and plump.
- Fresh Peas: Ideally, consume fresh peas on the day of purchase. If not, refrigerate them as soon as possible to preserve their sugar content and prevent starch conversion. Keep unwashed, unshelled peas in a bag or unsealed container in the refrigerator for several days.
- Blanching and Freezing: Fresh peas can be blanched for 1-2 minutes and then frozen. If you choose to blanch and freeze them, store them for a maximum period of 6-12 months.
Note: Fresh garden peas are generally available from spring through the beginning of winter. Snow peas can be found throughout the year in Asian markets and from spring through the beginning of winter in supermarkets. Snap peas have more limited availability, usually from late spring through early summer.
When storing peas, it’s essential to minimize exposure to air and moisture to maintain their quality. Freezing is an effective way to preserve peas for longer periods while retaining their taste and nutritional value.
Green Peas Recipes
2 cups green peas (fresh or frozen)
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional toppings: Greek yogurt, croutons, or fresh mint leaves
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes until the onion is translucent and fragrant.
- Add the green peas to the pot and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Pour in the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the peas are tender.
- Remove the pot from heat and add the fresh mint leaves. Use an immersion blender or transfer the mixture to a blender, and blend until smooth.
- Return the soup to the pot and reheat if necessary. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve the green pea and mint soup hot, garnished with a dollop of Greek yogurt, croutons, or fresh mint leaves, if desired.
1 cup Arborio rice (or any short-grain rice suitable for risotto)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups vegetable broth, heated
1 cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh parsley for garnish
- In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic, and sauté until the onion is translucent.
- Add the Arborio rice to the saucepan and stir to coat the grains with oil. Cook for about 2 minutes until the rice becomes slightly translucent.
- Pour in the white wine and cook until it is absorbed by the rice.
- Begin adding the vegetable broth, one ladle at a time, stirring constantly. Allow each ladle of broth to be absorbed before adding the next. Continue this process for about 20-25 minutes or until the rice is creamy and cooked al dente.
- Stir in the green peas and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes until they are heated through.
- Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and grated Parmesan cheese (if using). Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Let the risotto rest for a couple of minutes. Serve hot, garnished with fresh parsley.