The pea is delicious, versatile, packed with nutrition and can support the health of women in midlife and beyond.
Peas, those tiny green gems tucked away in a vibrant pod, may seem unassuming at first glance. But don't let their size fool you! These little powerhouses are not only delightful to taste but also boast an impressive array of health benefits. In this blog, we'll explore the wonders of peas, from their history and culinary uses to their nutritional value and environmental impact. And, I'll finish with how peas can support the health of women in midlife and beyond (skip straight to that) .
A Brief History of Peas
Peas have a rich history that dates back thousands of years. Originating in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, they have been cultivated since ancient times. Traders and explorers introduced peas to various regions across the globe, leading to their widespread popularity today.
Peas are incredibly versatile in the kitchen and can be enjoyed in numerous ways. Whether you prefer them fresh, frozen, or canned, peas are easy to incorporate into your favorite recipes. Here are some delightful ideas to make the most of these tiny green wonders:
Pea Soup: A classic comfort food, pea soup is a warm and hearty dish that will leave you feeling satisfied. Blend cooked peas with vegetable broth, add your favorite herbs and spices, and enjoy a bowl of wholesome goodness. Check out my Broccoli and Pea soup
Minted Peas: This refreshing side dish is perfect for summer gatherings. Simply cook the peas and toss them with fresh mint leaves, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt.
Pea Guacamole: Give a twist to your traditional guacamole by adding peas to the mix. They not only enhance the flavor but also boost the nutritional value of this popular dip.
Stir-fries and Curries: Add some color and nutrition to your stir-fries and curries by tossing in some peas. They complement a variety of flavors and textures.
Health Benefits of Peas, the Nutritional Breakdown
Peas are more than just a tasty addition to your meals; they are a nutritional powerhouse too! Here are some of the key nutrients found in peas:
Protein in Peas:
Did you know there is as much protein in a portion of peas as there is in an egg? Peas are an excellent plant-based source of protein, making them an ideal choice for vegetarians and vegans looking to meet their protein needs.
Fibre in Peas:
High in dietary fibre, peas support digestive health and help maintain a healthy gut.
Vitamins and Minerals in Peas:
Peas are rich in vitamins A, C, K, and B-complex vitamins, as well as essential minerals like iron, calcium, and potassium.
Antioxidants in Peas:
These little green wonders are packed with antioxidants that help protect your body from free radicals and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
This great graphic from Verywellfit.com gives us all the stats.
Environmentally Friendly Choice
Something I'm starting to think a bit more about now is the environmental impact of our food choices. Choosing peas can also have a positive impact on the environment. Pea plants have the unique ability to fix nitrogen into the soil, reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers and contributing to sustainable farming practices. Moreover, peas require less water compared to other crops, making them an eco-friendly choice for conscientious consumers.
The Role of the Pea in Healthy Ageing for Women
I'm always asked what role foods have in the healthy ageing process for women. Which foods are best for women over 50? Which foods to avoid? Foods that are high in quality protein are always part of my answer. Easy enough if you're a meat eater but takes a bit more effort if you are vegetarian or vegan.
I was reminded recently on BBC Morning Live (02/08/23) that a portion of peas has as much protein as an egg. So that set my brain in a whirl and this blog is the result.
Peas can play a significant role in promoting healthy aging for women due to their unique nutritional composition. As women age, certain health concerns become more prevalent, such as bone health, heart health, and maintaining a healthy weight.
5 ways peas can be particularly beneficial in supporting women's health as they age
1. Bone Health:
As women age, they are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis, a condition characterized by reduced bone density and increased fracture risk. Peas are a good source of vitamin K, which is essential for bone health as it helps improve calcium absorption and may contribute to bone mineralization, thus supporting bone strength and reducing the risk of fractures.
2. Heart Health:
Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of concern for aging women. Peas are rich in dietary fiber, which can help lower cholesterol levels and promote heart health by reducing the risk of heart disease. Additionally, their potassium content can help regulate blood pressure, further contributing to a healthy cardiovascular system.
3. Weight Management:
As metabolism tends to slow down with age, weight management becomes more challenging. Peas are relatively low in calories and high in fiber and protein, providing a sense of satiety and helping women feel fuller for longer. Including peas in meals can be a valuable strategy for managing weight and preventing unwanted weight gain.
4. Antioxidant Protection:
Peas are an abundant source of antioxidants, including flavonoids and carotenoids, which help combat oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. These antioxidants play a crucial role in neutralizing free radicals that can damage cells and tissues, supporting overall health and potentially reducing the risk of age-related diseases.
5. Menopausal Support:
For women going through menopause, maintaining hormone balance and managing symptoms are vital. Peas contain phytoestrogens, which are plant compounds that mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. While the research on phytoestrogens is ongoing, they may offer some menopausal support by alleviating certain symptoms and helping to balance hormonal fluctuations.
Peas may be small, but their impact is undeniably significant.
From their historical roots to their culinary versatility and nutritional prowess, peas deserve a special place on your plate.
Next time you're at the shop, don't overlook the unassuming pea pod. Embrace this tiny green treasure and unlock a world of delicious flavors and health benefits!
Including peas in the diet can be an excellent strategy for women to promote healthy aging.
With their abundance of nutrients, including bone-strengthening vitamin K, heart-protective fiber and potassium, weight-managing protein and fiber, powerful antioxidants, and potential menopausal support, peas provide an array of benefits that can support women's overall health as they age gracefully.
Embrace this humble legume and embrace a healthier, happier, and more vibrant life!
PS I'm always asked if fresh or frozen is best. I tend to use frozen, both for convenience and also because peas are mostly frozen at source, within hours of being picked therefore preserving those lovely nutrients.
PPS Peas will definitely be a feature at my Mediterranean Magic cooking demonstration and workshop on 11th August 2023 in Cumber House Claudy. Check it out