by Dr Rupy Aujla17 May 2023
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Not so English: Our history with peas dates back thousands of years. The wild plant is native to Southwest Asia, where it was recognised for its food value at an early date. The seeds were gathered to eat fresh in June and stored as dry seeds for year-round use. (Rungruangmaitree et al. 2017)
At the Dawn of Agriculture: It’s one of the oldest plants cultivated by early human civilisations in the Middle East about 10,000 years ago. The crop was then carried to Europe, likely along the migration of ancient grains. It was mostly grown to be dried and cooked or ground into flour. (Trněný et al. 2018)
From Victorian England to the American Freezer: In the late 1800s, peas became a standard element of English cookery, with new varieties like “garden peas” and “English peas”. In the 1920s, they were among the first sold frozen foods in the US.
Legumes, including peas, are considered a healthy element of a balanced diet.
Blood glucose levels: A small study in young men found that adding pea components to foods improved their glycemic control.
Gut health: A small study in elderly individuals found that adding pea hull fibre to foods helped in the management of constipation.
Interpret with care: Some studies exclude fresh peas from the legume group or do not clearly define what qualifies as legumes. With these complexities, it’s hard to evaluate the health benefits of fresh peas in our diets.
So, what’s in those humble peas anyway?
Peas have been recognised as an inexpensive source of:
In daily life: Become a legume adventurer and mix it up! Include at least 4 weekly servings of diverse legumes in your meals, such as fresh and dried peas, beans and lentils. A portion of green peas is roughly 3 heaped tablespoons. Cooking inspiration coming your way!
Peas in a Pod: Peas are the small, spherical seeds of pods produced by the Pisum sativum plant. The seeds can be green, yellow, white or variegated. More about growing peas.
Season: Typically, fresh peas emerge from their pods during the spring and summer months. But the majority of peas we consume are frozen, making them an all-year staple.
Pea Power! Peas, like other legumes, are considered an environmentally friendly crop – they enrich the soil with nitrogen and reduce the need for synthetic fertilisers.
Buy local & seasonal: If you can try fresh peas from local farmers this season, seize it with both hands! Find your local farmer here.
Peas Around the World
My Favourite Ways to Enjoy Peas
4 Recipes to Try Out!