What are the benefits of eating different kinds of peas?

Peas are available to us in different forms - sprouted, frozen and fresh, dried and canned - and in each form, there is something good and beneficial for the body.

What are the benefits of eating different kinds of peas?
For what reasons do you recommend eating peas in their various preparations? Photo by Artie Kostenko / Unsplash

The butterfly family of plants includes peas. The snow pea is the plant that people eat the most. Slowly, Turkish peas are also becoming more popular, and we've grown used to them as Middle Eastern food has made its way into our homes. Peas and beans are both good for you in the same ways. They are a good source of protein from plants for both people who eat meat and those who don't.

The fiber in peas keeps the digestive system healthy and helps keep the heart in good shape. Because they have a lot of antioxidants, they are also recommended as a way to prevent cancer. If you want to get the most out of the nutrients in peas, you should eat them with cereal or bread. You can buy these legumes in many different ways. Fresh green peas, dried peas, peas that have been frozen, and even pea sprouts. It is important to know what makes each product valuable.

Pea sprouts

Pea sprouts, which are also called "microgreens," have become very popular in Latvia very quickly. Interest seems to have grown because of social networks. They are right to say that sprouts are a healthy food that also makes a meal look better. Anything with microgreens on it looks beautiful and photogenic, so you want to take a picture of your lunch and show it to others.

These greens go well with meat, fish, salads, cereals, omelets, cottage cheese, green smoothies, and savory porridge.

What is valuable in pea sprouts? The sprout is like an egg to a chick - a golden chest of nutrients from which to grow. They are rich in trace elements - potassium, magnesium, calcium, zinc, manganese, copper, and even iron. We also get vitamins A, C, and E, B vitamins, and essential oils.

It's easy to grow your pea sprouts at home. You only need to buy the most common grey or Turkish peas, a container, and some land for flowers. You can use a jar lined with cheesecloth, a container made just for microgreens, or a plastic tin with holes in the bottom. The peas are then rubbed into the container, which is then covered with cold water and left for 24 hours.

Once the peas have been soaked, they are taken out through the cheesecloth. Put about a thumb's width of soil in the bottom of the sprouting container. Place the peas on top of the soil and pour a lot of water over them. Cover it with a thin layer of dirt put it in a warm, bright place, and be patient. Spray your vegetable garden with water every once in a while.

Fresh peas and dried peas

What's the difference between fresh peas and dry (split, gray) peas? The first two are more like vegetables than the last two, which are more like legumes. There are more vitamins in fresh peas, but there is less protein. Vitamins are lost in small amounts when food is dried or stored for a long time. But if we take the water out of the pea, we can increase the amount of protein in it. The body can get vitamins K and C from green peas, as well as manganese, phosphorus, and several other micronutrients.

Fresh peas are the only way to get the most vitamin C out of peas. This vitamin is lost when green peas are cooked, so it is best to eat them raw. Good to know: sugar snap peas, which you have to shell yourself, are a great food for kids, not only because they are healthy, but also because they help them develop their fine motor skills.

Fresh peas are not as healthy as dry peas that have been cooked. Let's think back to a dish from the past: peas with dried bacon. It has a lot of protein and fat, which gives you a lot of energy for winter work. But these days, it's best not to eat too much bacon, so you could try peas with chicken fillet instead. It is a healthier alternative that has less fat.

How many peas should I eat every day? Let's imagine a 200-milliliter glass. That is the right amount of pulses. You can eat this amount of fresh peas one day, split peas the next, and frozen peas the next. You can also eat lentils, beans, kidney beans, and soya on other days.

Frozen peas

Almost every store sells frozen green peas. A useful item that is easy to make and can be bought at any time of the year. But a lot of people wonder if frozen peas are just junk food that has lost all of its nutritional value. Maybe it would be better to freeze them at home than to buy them in a store. There's nothing to worry about. Vegetables are valuable, and industrial freezing is the best way to make sure they are of good quality.

So that as many vitamins and minerals as possible are kept, the vegetable or berry needs to be frozen in a way that keeps its shape when it is taken out of the freezer. People who have tried to freeze things on their knowledge that when you take a nice berry out of the freezer, it tends to be mushy. The skin breaks, the juice runs out, and the texture goes away. This means that vitamins and minerals are also lost.

Why does this happen?  A lot of water is in fruit, vegetables, and berries. When water freezes, it forms crystals. If you don't know what you're doing and it takes a long time to freeze, like at home, the water crystals won't be even and sharp. They start to tear the cells of the food, which is why we get a mushy mess instead of the vegetable we were hoping for. The nutrients merely start flowing out.

Professional freezing for business is very different. It happens so quickly and right that water crystals form in a way that doesn't hurt the cells. When this kind of food is defrosted, it keeps its shape and vitamins and minerals. So, if you have to choose between buying frozen peas in a store or freezing them yourself, buying them in a store is healthier, faster, and easier.

When food is frozen, do nutrients get lost? Slightly. Up to 50% of the vitamin C is lost. Other nutrients are much more stable, but what happens to antioxidants is by far the most interesting. Some studies show that antioxidants stay more stable in frozen vegetables than in fresh ones.

If you are worried about losing nutrients during the freezing process, remember that nutrients are also lost during transport. A pea that has just been picked and flash-frozen may be healthier than one that has come from a faraway country and has been sitting on the shelf for a long time.

Canned peas

Canned peas are another useful item, but people have a lot of doubts about them. Have they remained good? Have any preservatives been added that could be bad for your health? There is no need to add E-foods to canned peas. The process of canning makes sure that no air or microorganisms that could make the food go bad to get into the can.

But what about the nutrients? The proteins stay in place. This is shown by the fact that you can use the liquid from canned peas in place of egg white when cooking. This is a popular idea in vegan cooking, where the liquid from the beans is called aquafaba.

Are vitamins lost? Vitamin C is present in fairly significant quantities, but others are more persistent. The peas in the can will still have vitamin A and its provitamin carotenoids, manganese, calcium, and a lot of other good things. The fiber is also well-kept. It's important to remember that if you can choose between eating canned peas or not eating legumes, you should eat canned peas without a doubt.