Are Peas Paleo?

pods-of-green-peas-web.jpgPeas are one of the oldest vegetables ever domesticated by human beings. But are peas Paleo?

Should I Eat Peas And Are They Paleo?

Peas were long the staple of many neolithic and medieval peoples, particularly those living in Europe and Asia. When the Mayflower set sail for the Massachusetts Colony, half of their food cargo was in the form of dried peas.

A number of vegetables and their seeds are referred to as “peas,” including snow peas and black eyed peas. For the purposes of this article, all of the information is referring to “green peas” (sometimes called garden peas), technically pisum sativum.

Technically, the pea pod and the peas within are fruits but are generally referred to as pulses or legumes, similar to peanuts, lentils, chickpeas,  and beans. Most of the original texts on the Paleo diet specifically forbid the eating of any legume, including peas.

While there is some limited evidence that primitive people did learn to soak and sprout peas and include them in their diet, the majority of Paleo diet experts still recommend that peas should not be eaten.

We here at Paleo Plan believe that peas can most certainly be part of a Paleo diet due to the fact the they’re lower in phytates and lectins than other legumes.

Nutritional Value of Peas

100 grams (3.5 ounces) of peas contain the following:

  • 81 calories
  • 0.4 grams of fat
  • 14.45 grams of carbohydrates
  • 5.67 grams of sugar
  • 5.1 grams of dietary fiber
  • 5.42 grams of protein
  • 39 micrograms of Vitamin A
  • 449 micrograms of beta-carotene
  • 0.266 mg of Vitamin B1
  • 0.132 mg of Vitamin B2
  • 2.09 grams of Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
  • 0.169 mg of Vitamin B6
  • 65 micrograms of Vitamin B9 (Folate)
  • 40 mg of Vitamin C
  • 0.13 mg of Vitamin E
  • 24.8 micrograms of Vitamin K
  • 25 mg of calcium
  • 1.47 mg of iron
  • 33 mg of magnesium
  • 0.41 mg of manganese
  • 108 mg of phosphorus
  • 244 mg of potassium
  • 5 mg of sodium
  • 1.24 mg of zinc

The above numbers are for raw peas without any additional oils/fats or salt.

sugar-snap-peas-web-199x300.jpgHealth Benefits of Peas

Peas are about 1/4 protein and 1/4 sugar once they’ve been dried. Peas, like most other legumes (pulses) are far more starchy than other vegetables. The primary nutritional benefits of eating peas is that they are high in fiber, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, magnesium, copper, zinc, lutein and phosphorus.

Commercially, over a dozen variety of peas are sold in supermarkets although they all look quite similar. “Snap” and “sugar” peas are a cultivar of standard green peas that are picked early and eaten in their juvenile state.

A few people are allergic to peas (and usually also lentils), a condition which primarily affects people of Middle Eastern descent.

All legumes contain lectin and it is possible to suffer adverse effects by eating large quantities of raw legumes (including peas). The primary symptom of lectin poisoning is called “leaky gut” which translates as vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. All lectin content can be counteracted by either cooking the peas or soaking and sprouting them before eating them.

Seasonality of Peas

Edible green peas are technically harvested before the pod has reached full maturity. Depending on climate, peas can be found throughout the year but tend to peak between May and September in temperate zones. Peas grown in your garden are ready for picking when the pods have a swollen appearance and make a crisp “snap” sound when broken in half.

grilled-snow-peas-web-200x300.jpgHow to Prepare Peas

Peas come in a variety of states, including fresh, dried, frozen and canned.

Frozen peas are blanched (briefly cooked) before being frozen. Canned peas likewise are usually cooked before being canned and are usually preserved in brine (salty water that can also contain other ingredients and preservatives).

Be aware that dried peas are much higher in carbohydrates and lectins than fresh peas and should be avoided by anyone adhering to the Paleo Diet.

To avoid complications with lectins, it is best to soak and sprout raw peas before eating them.

Many people enjoy eating peas as a side dish to accompany a main entree of meat or other traditionally Paleo foods.


Paleo Plan