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All about “Peas”

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Health profile

Although it belongs to the botanical family of legumes, the fresh green pea is an immature seed that is eaten like a vegetable. It is one of Canada’s top five vegetable crops and contains more protein than most other vegetables. Except in season, green peas are relatively inaccessible in their fresh form; many then turn to frozen or canned peas. Snow peas, on the other hand, have a less tough and sweeter husk and their seeds are very small. It is therefore eaten whole, pod and seeds, and is more easily found on displays in the fresh state. In beans or snow peas, fresh peas contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals.

Active ingredients and properties

For vegetables in general

Several epidemiological studies have shown that high consumption of vegetables and fruits lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and other chronic diseases , 2 . Some mechanisms of action have been proposed to explain these protective effects; the presence of antioxidants in vegetables and fruits could play a role 2 .

For fresh peas and snow peas

Antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds that protect the cells of the body from damage caused by free radicals . These are very reactive molecules that are implicated in the development of cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers and other diseases linked to aging 3 .

  • Lutein and zeaxanthin . Green peas contain a good amount of lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidant compounds from the carotenoid family , 5 . According to Health Canada’s Canadian Nutrient File , ½ cup (125 ml) raw green peas contain 1,898 μg of lutein and zeaxanthin, while ½ cup (125 ml) boiled green peas contain 2,192 μg. These quantities are much higher than those found in snow peas, 252 μg for ten raw pods and 593 μg for 125 ml (½ cup) cooked. In addition, a human study has shown that green pea lutein is more bioavailable (better absorbed by the body) than other vegetables such as spinach6 . Lutein and zeaxanthin accumulate in the macula and retina of the eye , 7 , protecting it from oxidative stress that could cause damage. Moreover, data from a review of the scientific literature indicate that a regular intake of lutein and zeaxanthin is associated with a lower risk of macular degeneration and cataracts 5 , two eye diseases. It is also beginning to be suggested that these compounds could help prevent certain cancers, especially breast and lung cancers, and help prevent cardiovascular disease 5. Note, however, that studies on the cardiovascular level are still limited and sometimes contradictory.

Proteins. According to Health Canada’s Canadian Nutrient File , for an equal weight, a serving of green peas can contain almost twice as much protein as a serving of snow peas, which have tiny seeds. Even if the green pea is prepared and eaten like a vegetable, the mature seed is a legume, a family of foods that is one of the most important sources of vegetable protein. Green pea proteins are less digestible and less complete than animal proteins. Cooking can however improve their digestibility and thereby the nutritional value of peas 8. In addition, vegetarians will benefit from consuming, within the same day, a variety of protein-rich foods that can form a whole (legumes, nuts, cereals, dairy products or eggs) 9 .

Dietary fiber. With more than 5 g per 125 ml (½ cup, cooked) dietary fiber serving, green peas are a high source . Dietary fibers, which are found only in plants, include a set of substances that are not digested by the body. A high-fiber diet is associated with a lower risk of colon cancer and can satisfy appetite by providing a feeling of fullness more quickly 11 . There are two main types of fiber (soluble and insoluble) that have different effects in the body: green peas contain both. Insoluble fiber is credited with the ability to prevent constipation by increasing stool volume, whilesoluble fiber can help prevent cardiovascular disease and help control type 2 diabetes 11 . It is recommended to consume 25 g of fiber per day for women from 19 to 50 years old, and 38 g per day for men of this same age group 12 .

Other properties

Is fresh pea antioxidant? Moderately  : Fresh peas have a TAC of 510 umol for a serving of 85 g. No data available for snow peas.
Is fresh pea acidifying? A little  : The PRAL index of 100 g of fresh peas is 1.2. No data available for snow peas.
Does fresh pea have a high glycemic load? A little  : The glycemic load of 85 g of boiled green peas is 4. No data available for snow peas.

Most important nutrients

See the meaning of the nutrient source classification symbols

 Vitamin C. The all-eaten boiled peas is an excellent source of vitamin C for women and a good source for man , their needs are different. For its part, raw peas are a good source . The peas boiled and peas raw are sourcesVitamin C. The role that vitamin C plays in the body goes beyond its antioxidant properties; it also contributes to the health of bones, cartilage, teeth and gums. In addition, it protects against infections, promotes the absorption of iron from plants and accelerates healing.

 Vitamin K. The raw pea is an excellent source of vitamin K for women and a good source for men , their needs being different. The peas boiled and peas boiled in are good sources while the peas raw is a source. Vitamin K is necessary for the synthesis (manufacture) of proteins which collaborates in the coagulation of the blood (as much in the stimulation as in the inhibition of the blood coagulation). It also plays a role in bone formation. In addition to being found in the diet, vitamin K is produced by bacteria in the intestine, hence the rarity of deficiencies in this vitamin.

 Iron. The small boiled peas and snow peas boiled are good sources of iron for the man and sources for women , their needs are different. The small vintage pea is a source of iron, while the peas raw is one for the manonly. Each body cell contains iron. This mineral is essential for the transport of oxygen and the formation of red blood cells in the blood. It also plays a role in the production of new cells, hormones and neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses). It should be noted that the iron contained in plant foods is less absorbed by the body than the iron contained in animal foods. However, the absorption of iron from plants is favored when consumed with certain nutrients, such as vitamin C.

 Manganese. The small vintage pea is a good source of manganese for women and a source for the rights , their needs are different. The peas boiled is a good source of manganese for man and woman, while the peas boiled-all eating is a source . Manganese acts as a cofactor for several enzymes that facilitate a dozen different metabolic processes. It also participates in the prevention of damage caused by free radicals .

 Copper. The pea is a good source of copper while the peas boiled-all eating is a source . As a constituent of several enzymes, copper is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and collagen (protein used for the structure and repair of tissues) in the body. Several copper-containing enzymes also help the body’s defense against free radicals.

 Vitamin B1. The pea is a good source of vitamin B1 while the boiled snow pea is a source . Also called thiamine , vitamin B1 is part of a coenzyme necessary for the production of energy mainly from the carbohydrates that we eat. It also participates in the transmission of nerve impulses and promotes normal growth

 Phosphorus . The peas and snow peas boiled are sources of phosphorus (see our profile Awards nutrient phosphorus ). Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body after calcium. It plays an essential role in the formation and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. In addition, it participates among other things in the growth and regeneration of tissues and helps to maintain normal blood pH . Finally, phosphorus is one of the constituents of cell membranes.

 Magnesium . The peas and snow peas boiled are sources of magnesium. Magnesium participates in bone development, protein construction, enzymatic actions, muscle contraction, dental health and the functioning of the immune system. It also plays a role in energy metabolism and in the transmission of nerve impulses.

 Zinc . The pea is a source of zinc. Zinc is involved in particular in immune reactions, in the production of genetic material, in the perception of taste, in the healing of wounds and in the development of the fetus. It also interacts with sex and thyroid hormones. In the pancreas, it participates in the synthesis (production), the storage and the release of insulin.

 Vitamin B2 . The pea is a source of vitamin B2. Boiled snow peas are a source for women only. Vitamin B2 is also known as riboflavin. Like vitamin B1, it plays a role in the energy metabolism of all cells. In addition, it contributes to tissue growth and repair, hormone production and the formation of red blood cells.

 Vitamin B3 . The pea is a source of vitamin B3. Also called niacin, this vitamin participates in many metabolic reactions and contributes particularly to the production of energy from the carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and alcohol that we ingest. It also collaborates in the DNA formation process , allowing normal growth and development.

 Pantothenic acid . The peas are a source of pantothenic acid. Also called vitamin B5, pantothenic acid is part of a key coenzyme that allows us to adequately use the energy present in the food we eat. It also participates in several stages of the synthesis (production) of steroid hormones, neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses) and hemoglobin.

 Vitamin B6 . The peas and snow peas boiled are sources of vitamin B6. Also called pyridoxine, this vitamin is part of coenzymes which participate in the metabolism of proteins and fatty acids as well as in the synthesis (manufacture) of neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses). It also contributes to the production of red blood cells and allows them to transport more oxygen. Pyridoxine is also necessary for the transformation of glycogen into glucose and it contributes to the proper functioning of the immune system. This vitamin finally plays a role in the formation of certain components of nerve cells and in the modulation of hormone receptors.

 Folate . The peas and snow peas boiled are sources of folate. Folate (vitamin B9) is involved in the production of all cells in the body, including red blood cells. This vitamin plays an essential role in the production of genetic material (DNA, RNA), in the functioning of the nervous system and the immune system, as well as in the healing of wounds and wounds. As it is necessary for the production of new cells, adequate consumption is essential during periods of growth and for the development of the fetus.

 Vitamin A . The pea-boiled while eating is a source of vitamin A for women. Vitamin A is one of the most versatile vitamins, contributing to several functions of the body. It promotes, among other things, the growth of bones and teeth. It keeps the skin healthy and protects against infections. In addition, it plays an antioxidant role and promotes good vision, especially in the dark.

What is a “portion” of fresh peas worth?
Weight / volume Snow peas, raw, 34 g / 10 pods Snow peas, boiled, drained, 85 g (125 ml) Green peas, raw, 77 g (125 ml) Green peas, boiled, drained, 85 g (125 ml)
Calories 14 36 62 71
Protein 1.0 g 2.8g 4.2g 4.5g
Carbohydrates 2.6g 6.0 g 11.1g 13.2 g
Fat 0.1g 0.2g 0.3 g 0.2g
Dietary fiber 0.6g 2.4g 3.9 g 5.6g

Source  : Health Canada. Canadian Nutrient File , 2005.


Oral allergy syndrome

Green pea is one of the foods that can be accused of oral allergy syndrome 10 . This syndrome is an allergic reaction to certain proteins from a range of fruits, vegetables and nuts. It affects some people with allergies to environmental pollens and is characterized by mouth and throat symptoms. It is almost always preceded by hay fever. Local symptoms limited to the mouth, lips and throat such as itching and burning sensations may then occur, then usually disappear within a few minutes after consuming or touching the offending food. In the absence of other symptoms, this reaction is not serious and the consumption of green peas does not have to be systematically avoided. However, it is recommended that you consult an allergist to determine the cause of reactions to plant foods. The latter will be able to assess whether special precautions should be taken.

Fresh peas over time

The term ”  pea  ” appeared in the French language in the XII th  century. It is derived from the Latin name of the plant, Pisum .

Various origins are attributed to this name: it derives from the Greek verb which means “to persuade”; the name of the Greek city of “Pisa”; or from the Latin verb pisere which means “to break”, because traditionally, the grains were crushed before cooking. But it may come from the Greek pisos , or from the Sanskrit pesi (which means “pea separate from its pod”). Anyway, we see that both in French and in English ( pea ) or in Italian ( pisello ), it has the same root.

The term ”  pea  ” appeared much later, in the XVIII th  century to distinguish the green vegetable, which had just discovered, the traditional dry peas.

The peas whose pods are eaten are called snow peas , greedy or greedy . Unlike the pea pods which form a fibrous and inedible parchment, their pods do not. They are eaten before the grains are formed.

For a few years now, we have found a snow pea on the market that is harvested and eaten when the grains are formed, namely Sugar Snap , a name for which we have not yet found a French equivalent. It was created by the Americans, although some say that it is rather an old European variety that we have just rediscovered. We have proposed the expressions “fleshy snowman”, “new pea” or “sweet pea” to distinguish it from the others, but in trade, “Sugar Snap” prevails.

It may be that the home of the genus Pisum is not unique, as we have long thought, but multiple. Central Asia (from north-west India to Afghanistan) would be its main place of development, while the Near East, the Mediterranean basin and Ethiopia (plateau and mountains) would be secondary places. It would have been domesticated about 10,000 years ago, along with old wheat and lentils, and probably sheep and goats.

The peas of royalty
When, returning from Italy, a certain Sieur Audiger appeared before Louis XIV with a basket filled with fresh peas, it was delirium. In 1696, Madame de Maintenon wrote: “The impatience to eat it, the pleasure of having eaten it and the joy of eating it again are the three points that our princes have been dealing with for a few days. There are ladies who “had” supper at the king’s, and well supped, find peas at home to eat before bed, at the risk of indigestion. It’s a fashion, a fury! “

From its center in the Near East, it will spread rapidly to the west (Turkey and Greece), then to the north. In France, we found in the debris left by those who lived in what is today Languedoc, pea seeds which date back to 7000 years before our era. Three thousand years later, its culture is common in the Rhine valley. It will then be established everywhere, notably in China in the first century of our era, and in America from the beginnings of colonization.

For a long time we do cultivate peas for his dry seed, fresh peas being mentioned for the first time at the XII th  century England. It was not until the year 1536 to read a detailed description in a French work. Despite everything, the snowman did not appear on the French markets until the beginning of the XVII th  century, coming from Holland, and it was not until 1660 that the pea made its big entry in France. Until the beginning of the following century, the pea remained a rarity commanding prices so high that only the nobility and the aristocracy could afford it.

As it does not keep for a long time, it will only be cultivated on a large scale with the invention of canning (technique of canning) in 1821. Finally, thanks to the improvement of freezing techniques, we can today to preserve a good part of the nutritive and gustatory qualities of this green vegetable.

Culinary uses

Choose well

The fresh peas begin a conversion process sugar into starch as soon as they are picked. It is therefore necessary to buy them as fresh as possible, preferably on the day of their picking. Their pods should be shiny, green, swollen and firm. The grain of the peas should be crisp and slightly sweet. We will not shell them until the last moment.

Snow peas should be very green, flat and small, because they are too large and have threads. However, the presence of threads does not necessarily mean that the pea has passed the stage where it must be harvested. The temperature at the time of maturation of the pods has a lot to do with it. Simply remove the wires by pulling them from the tip to the peduncle.

The Sugar Snap pea should be very green and the beans should fill the pod well. Remove the wires if necessary.

Culinary dishes

Tenderly please
From the pea, the famous Auguste Escoffier said that it is one of the vegetables that most easily loses its qualities due to lack of care: the slightest negligence makes this vegetable with the flavor of incomparable finesse, any food , bland and worthless.

Peas, snow peas, Sugar Snap can be eaten raw when they are fresh and tender. Add them to a salad or soup or present them on a plate of mixed vegetables for a dip.

The young pea shoots or the tips of the plants are traditionally eaten in Asia: tender, crunchy, they will be added to salads or they will barely be stir-fried in a wok. Still rare in the trade, one can find in the oriental markets and some Western grocery stores.


  • The traditional method for preparing them is to quickly cook them in boiling salted water, to drain them and to dry them by sautéing them on high heat. We can serve them as is or cook them more by integrating them into a more complex dish.
  • In France, they are cooked with chopped lettuce , parsley, chervil, small onions, butter, salt, a little sugar and a few spoonfuls of water. Some prefer to add raw chopped lettuce after the peas are cooked.
  • The traditional St-Germain pea puree is prepared by cooking the peas as before and then draining them. While passing them through a sieve, heat the drip water until it is reduced to almost nothing. We then work the mash with butter and the reduced sauce.
  • In England, they are cooked in salted water with a bouquet of fresh mint , then they add butter and decorate the dish with blanched mint leaves.
  • The cook stew with baby carrots and onions marinated and chopped fresh herbs added after cooking. Mint, rosemary, marjoram and thyme get along particularly well with them.
  • By stuffing tomatoes their adding chopped mint, egg yolk, a little butter and, if desired, poultry or fish.
  • Peas can be served simply with rice . Or sauté diced potatoes, onion, garlic, turmeric, ginger and mustard seeds. Add water or broth , cook for ten minutes, then add peas and finish cooking.
  • In Quebec , you cannot imagine chicken pie without peas.

Eat all

  • Snow peas are steamed (just a few minutes), stewed or sautéed, Chinese-style, with other vegetables and meat.
  • Blanch them and serve them in a salad with seafood, cherry tomatoes, finely chopped lettuce and a lemon vinaigrette.
  • Prepare them with slivered almonds , pine nuts or sesame seeds.
  • The end of the end is to split them lengthwise and stuff them with seasoned cream cheese or a vegetable mousse or liver pâté.
  • Sauté Sugar Snaps with fresh black grapes , a shallot and a little wine, after blanching them for two minutes.


Refrigerator: fresh peas can be kept for two or three days in the coldest part of the refrigerator. If you need to keep them longer, put them immediately in crushed ice.
Freezer: although, theoretically, the snowboard freezes, it does not always look very good when thawed. On the other hand, the pea and the Sugar Snap support freezing perfectly, after being blanched for a few minutes and then cooled in ice water.
Dehydrator: Peas dehydrate very well after blanching. On the other hand, snow peas take on an unattractive texture when dried.

If you need to freeze or dry a large quantity of peas, you can use a manual or electric sheller.

Organic gardening

Sowing. Peas with round grains are more resistant to cold and humidity than those with wrinkled grains. On the other hand, these are sweeter, stay tender longer, can be harvested larger and tolerate heat better. Choose the varieties according to the temperatures so as to spread production throughout the summer and fall. Make a first sowing of round grain peas around April 15 (southern Quebec), followed by one or two sowing of wrinkled grain peas in May. A final sowing of wrinkled grain peas may be attempted at the end of July to obtain a harvest in the fall, however, it is a riskier adventure due to powdery mildew and various other fungal diseases that can occur at this time of year;

Varieties. All varieties of peas (peas, snow peas, Sugar Snap) will give dry peas if given enough time, but some varieties have been selected strictly for this purpose. Their seeds are more difficult to find in the retail market, as this type of cultivation is generally done on a large scale by specialized producers. However, old varieties can be found, giving soup peas of unsurpassed quality, through seed exchange groups (in Canada, the Heritage Seed Program). By cultivating the varieties with oars (some can go up to 3 m or 4 m), we will save a lot of space compared to the dwarf varieties. Allow at least 100 days, even 120, for most of these varieties.

Soil temperature at sowing. From 4 ° C to 14 ° C, ideally 10 ° C.

pH. From 5.5 to 6.5, ideally the highest measurement. Below 6, add lime and inoculate with rhizobium.

Fungal diseases. In conventional agriculture, seeds are treated with fungicides to limit damage caused by fusarium, root rot and damping-off. In organic farming, it is imperative to choose resistant cultivars, ensure that the soil is very well drained, postpone the sowing date if the temperatures are too cold and too humid and, despite all these measures, accept a certain loss, even to sow again a few days later. We could try treating the seeds with horsetail, but that is not guaranteed. To counter powdery mildew, choose resistant varieties and treat with sulfur.

Slugs and birds. Garlic could be effective against slugs, as researchers have recently discovered, but avoid sowing these two plants next to each other, legumes and alliaceae feeling a deep aversion to each other. Use garlic as a foliar treatment. To prevent birds from nipping seeds just sown or when the young plant emerges, install a scarecrow, aluminum plates hung on a wire or any other system likely to worry them.

Peas as green manure. Sow from 2 kg to 4 kg per 100 m 2 of flower bed.

Ecology and environment

A fine example of symbiosis
Rhizobacteria ( rhizobium spp.) are bacteria that live in the soil and have the ability to stimulate the formation of small swellings called nodules on the roots of certain plants, especially legumes. The bacteria then colonize these nodules. Once properly installed, they transform nitrogen from the atmosphere, unusable by the plant, into soluble fertilizer that the latter can assimilate and which promotes its growth. What is more, once the plant has completed its growth cycle, it leaves nitrogen reserves in the soil for the plants which will follow it and which, they, do not have the possibility of entering into symbiosis with the rhizobacteria. Indeed, apart from legumes, a single plant belonging to another family (ulmaceae) is known to harbor these bacteria.

It is therefore a unique phenomenon in nature and a trait that organic farmers take advantage of to increase the nitrogen reserves in the soil without using chemical fertilizers. When used for this purpose, they bury legumes in the soil before they are fully mature. A few weeks later or the following season, they can sow vegetable plants with high nitrogen requirements, for example lettuce or cabbage.

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