Peas, One of the Healthiest Foods

by Dawn Jarvis, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., Garden of Life Corporate Nutritionist; from Extraordinary Health Magazine Volume 23

Peas (Pisum sativum) are one of the world’s oldest crops. The gathering of wild, whole peas for use in food dates as far back as 9750 B.C in Southeast Asia. Peas have been consumed in dry form throughout much of early history, but didn’t become popular as a fresh food until changes in cultivation techniques in the 16th century.

Split yellow peas belong to the same family as lentils and are highly nutritious—high in both protein and fiber. A half-cup serving of cooked split peas (cup dry) provides 110 calories, 10 grams of protein (20% of the daily value), less than one gram of fat and 12 grams of dietary fiber. That’s almost half the daily value of 25 grams of fiber, which most people don’t get daily!

Most vegetables are low in protein, so peas make an excellent source of protein for everyone, especially growing children, vegetarians and vegans. Peas provide all the essential amino acids needed for growth and repair of the daily wear and tear of our body tissues—as well as all three branched chain amino acids which are utilized for energy and for muscle building. Peas are a known source of tryptophan, an important amino acid used by the body to make neurotransmitters such as erotonin, which helps regulate appetite and improves mood. Soluble fiber in peas offers numerous health benefits, including delaying the emptying of the stomach contents and enhancing the feeling of “fullness” which prevents hunger and aids with weight management. Soluble fiber also helps to reduce blood lipids such as LDL cholesterol. Likewise, soluble fiber helps to stabilize blood sugar levels. The insoluble fiber in peas are gut healthy, traveling through the digestive system intact and increasing stool bulk— helping to prevent constipation and to promote regularity.

In short, legumes such as dried peas can be beneficial in the diet to help balance blood sugar levels, while providing steady, slow-burning energy.

Here’s another pea perk: yellow split peas are a source of B vitamins, providing 0.18 milligrams of thiamine (vitamin B1), per half-cup serving (12% Daily Value) and 64 micrograms of folate (6% DV). Thiamine, vital for energy metabolism, converts foods you eat into energy for your cells, while supporting proper nervous system function. Folate contributes to heart health, enhances immune system function, prevents birth defects, forms red blood cells and more.

Like beans, split peas are a mineral- dense food, providing about 10% DV for iron, which is needed for healthy blood, making it a good iron food source for vegetarians. Other minerals in peas, such as phosphorus—along with calcium— are needed for strong, healthy bones and teeth. Split peas are also a good food source for important trace minerals such as molybdenum and manganese, which are involved in important metabolic reactions in the body.

Yellow split peas can be used in a wide variety of ways—wholesome delicious soups, salads, dahls, curries, casseroles and meatless patties. They cook quickly without the need for soaking.

Plant proteins are hot, hot, hot! It’s easy to see why, too. With everything from Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study to Forks Over Knives, a plant-based diet is making headlines and changing people’s health for the better. For example, Dr. Campbell’s groundbreaking book, The China Study, found that, of the people studied, those eating a mostly whole-foods, plant-based diet were the healthiest. It was a 20-year study that included over 100 villages in China.

However, even among plant proteins, not all are alike because some are made from conventionally raised plants using farming practices that contain toxic pesticides and GMO seeds.

Among plant proteins, brown rice protein—especially sprouted brown rice protein—has an astounding nutritional profile. In short, organic brown rice protein is clean, nutrient-dense, easily digestible, high-quality nutrition. But brown rice isn’t the only plant protein.

Garden of Life set out to make Organic Plant Protein the best-tasting, best-textured protein ever, and some of the phrases used to describe the Smooth Vanilla flavor and texture are “a buttery, French taste” with the “creaminess that is reminiscent of homemade ice cream.”
Talk about smooth—and yummy!

But just what’s behind that smooth texture? Part of the key is that Organic Plant Protein is free of cereal grains, and simply cutting out these grains, gets rid of the “grainy” texture. That makes perfect sense, right? And while the effects of being cereal grain free on texture are almost a given, there are other benefits. Among those, some people have difficulty digesting grains, or they simply have chosen to cut out grains from their diets in order to better manage their weight. In fact, several popular books advocate the benefits of avoiding grains. One of those is the New York Times bestseller Grain Brain by David Perlmutter, M.D.

Organic Plant Protein’s unique blend of seven organic plant proteins were meticulously sourced from our growing family of organic farmers and includes organic pea, organic flax, organic chia, organic pumpkin and organic cranberry seeds, along with two African superfoods, organic baobab fruit and organic moringa leaf.

Each smooth serving of Organic Plant Protein provides 15 grams of delicious, healthy, grain- free protein as well as all the essential amino acids, including three grams of branched chain amino acids, or BCAAs. Branched chain amino acids are important for a variety of reasons including: they’re utilized directly by our working muscles, don’t need to be processed by the liver, help to promote protein synthesis and support healthy muscles and muscle replenishment (particularly for workouts—whether pre-workout, post-workout or both).

Organic Plant Protein is also a delicious on-the-go protein. Just add water and enjoy a tasty, low-calorie (only 100 calories per serving), high-protein treat that delivers 19 naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, 13 digestive enzymes, one billion CFU of probiotics (L. plantarum, L. bulgaricus) and 4 grams of fiber.


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