It is critical for every diabetic patient to follow a strict and balanced diet. This helps in preventing any abrupt spikes in blood glucose levels. For this reason, diabetics should carefully assess each food item on their plate and add more foods that regulate blood sugar. Green pea or matar is a veggie beneficial for people with diabetes.
It is one of the most well-accepted desi veggies. People use peas in Indian cooking globally. Even if, peas are a winter veggie, these days they are available throughout the year. People may add green peas to a diversity of dishes to augment their nourishment.
Peas derive from the Middle East and Central Asia. It is one of the first crops cultivated by humans. People consumed peas formerly in their dry form. Till the 16th century, they were not consumed in fresh form. Canada is the major producer and exporter of peas. However, other big peas producers are Russia, the United States, China, France, and India.
Peas fall under the legume family. This implies that they’re close cousins of lentils, black beans, and chickpeas. Yet, green peas are legumes that people consume in their fresh and dry forms.
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Types of Peas
There are several types of peas such as:
- Green Peas: These are found commonly and are available in several varieties like garden sweet peas and spring peas. The pod is uneatable in many diversities of green peas. People must cook green peas prior to eating.
- Snap Peas: They are the sweetest peas. Also, people consume both peas and pods in raw or cooked forms. The pods are expected to be plumper in comparison to other varieties of peas.
- Snow Peas: Snow peas contain a flat, eatable pod and are also referred to as sugar peas. People eat or cook these snow peas.
If a person is diabetic, he or she must have been taught that peas are a “starchy veggie”. While non-starchy ones are green beans or broccoli. Peas comprise a higher number of carbs in comparison to other veggies. Thus, peas are usually counted as a carb choice per serving in a diet. Below is the nutrition breakdown of ½ cup serving of peas:
- Calories: 62
- Carbohydrates: 11 grams
- Fiber: 4 grams
- Protein: 4 grams
- Fat: 0 gram
Peas contain rich amounts of vitamins C and E, zinc, and other antioxidants that act as strong immune boosters. Other nutrients like vitamins A and B aid in lowering inflammation and reduces the risk of diabetes, heart problems, or arthritis.
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Research has found that the protein present in peas is a “high-quality” one. It consists of both essential and nonessential amino acids (comparable to a protein present in soya or eggs). Consequently, pea protein has been coming up recently in food items and protein supplements. The reason for this is that pea protein comprises arginine, an amino acid. It is helpful for building muscle and might improve sports performance. Moreover, pea protein comprises amino acids including:
These amino acids are found to support a healthy digestive tract. Also, a study in rats who had pea protein exhibited that it assisted in reducing the levels of blood pressure.
Pea protein is vegan, indicating that it is free of animal products. Furthermore, it is a great option for individuals hypersensitive to soy, eggs, or milk protein. People utilize this protein instead of eggs in baking.
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Uses of Pea Protein
People also include pea protein in:
- Snack or energy bars
- Poultry items like meat
- Frozen desserts.
In addition, it comes in powder form too. Important Advice: Before hopping on to the pea protein bandwagon, it’s better to discuss with a doctor prior to using it or any type of protein supplement, particularly in case of kidney or liver disease.
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Below are some of the benefits that peas deliver:
Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory
Green peas pack strong antioxidants found to guard against cardiac problems and skin cancer. These antioxidants are catechin and epicatechin (also present in green tea). Also, peas comprise omega-3 fatty acids like ALA, or alpha-linolenic acid, useful in combating inflammation. Lowering inflammation is a vital part of disease prevention, particularly for chronic ailments like heart disorders and T2DM.
Peas comprise carbs, however, may still be a part of a healthy diabetes plan. The protein and fiber content of peas helps in delaying the digestion process. This, in turn, aids in stabilizing the levels of blood sugars post-eating. Moreover, peas rank low on the GI scale. The green pea’s glycemic index is 22.
Peas are moderately low in calories and fat and contain rich amounts of protein and fiber. This makes them a great option for any weight-management plan.
Peas comprise a compound named coumestrol, a form of polyphenol. A study has found that 2 mg of coumestrol might be useful in stomach cancer. A cup of green peas contains around 10 mg of this polyphenol.
Peas contain a good amount of vitamin C, which makes them one of the top immunity-booster foods. As per studies, one single serving of peas or snow peas provides ½ of the daily needs. Peas, specifically pea shoots, comprise antioxidants called phytoalexins. It is thought to inhibit H. Pylori, the bacterium responsible for the stomach, duodenal ulcers, as well as stomach cancer.
Peas comprise the carotenoids namely, lutein and zeaxanthin. These nutrients aid in protecting the eyes against chronic disorders like cataracts and AMD or, age-related macular degeneration. Lutein and zeaxanthin work as filters from damaging blue light. And, this adds to cataracts and macular degeneration.
Good for Skin
Pears contain Vitamin C, which helps in collagen production. Collagen aids in keeping the skin firm and glowing. Also, the vitamin guards the cells against impairment due to free radicals. The antioxidants aid in protecting against oxidative damage due to free radicals. The antioxidants present in peas include carotenoids, flavonoids, catechin, epicatechin, and alpha-carotene. All of them aid in preventing aging symptoms as well.
Good Source of Iron
Pea is a rich source of iron. Iron deficiency is the most prevalent reason for anemia. If a person lacks enough iron, his or her body fails to produce enough healthy O2-carrying RBCs. Hence, it results in hemoglobin deficiency. Iron aids in fighting fatigue and provides strength to a person.
The high amounts of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals in peas offer vital benefits ranging from eye health to fighting several cancers.
Adding Peas in a Diabetes Meal Plan
The simple reply to this query “is peas good for diabetes ?” is yes! Particularly if a person adheres to fresh peas. People must avoid canned peas (with extra sodium and preservatives), frozen peas can also be a better option.
People may ask why consume peas if much of the calories come from carbs in peas. Also, peas are a starchy veggie, should I avoid them in that case? Starchy veggies comprise a greater number of carbs. The quick reply to this query is a bit more complex, but here it goes.
Calories are not the only problem to take into consideration. But, yes around three-fourths of the calories in peas derive from carbs. However, the carb is complex and not simple carbs. Also, when a person consumes peas, he or she also consumes fiber. And, fiber helps in delaying the absorption of carbs, hence peas would not give that increase in the normal blood glucose levels. And, glucose would take a long time to get liberated.
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Benefits of Green Peas for Diabetics
There are several reasons why green peas good for diabetes :
- Low in Calories: One 100 gm serving of green peas consists of nearly 80 calories (according to the USDA). Low-calorie food products are thought to be vital for diabetics as being obese is a risk factor for T2DM. Moreover, weight gain in people with high sugars makes it even more difficult for them to regulate their levels.
- Rich In Fibre: One 100 gm serving of green peas consists of 14 gm of carbs, including 5 gm of fiber (according to the data by USDA). Fiber is possibly the most vital nutrient for people with high sugars to concentrate upon. This nutrient plays a major role in blood sugar control and blood pressure control as well. This is due to the fact that its digestion in the body is slow, hence it releases blood sugar gradually. Hence, avoids any spikes.
- High in Potassium: A lack of potassium might augment the risk of diabetes. As a result, this mineral is essential for people inclined to this condition. Green peas consist of 244 mg of potassium per 100 gm (according to the data by USDA). This amount might be beneficial for people with diabetes. Furthermore, potassium is vital for maintaining the levels of blood pressure.
- Contains High Protein: One 100 gm part of green peas comprises around 5 gm of protein (as per the USDA). Protein is a filling nutrient, which might avoid hunger pangs. Moreover, protein plays a key role in weight management, which is vital for diabetics.
Green peas comprise carbs, but they may still be part of a diabetes diet. The fiber and protein present in peas slow digestion. Also, they aid in smoothing out the glucose levels after eating and peas are low on the GI scale with a score of 22.
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How to Enjoy Peas for Diabetes?
Spring is the most excellent time to enjoy fresh peas. The season is quite short; hence people must gain benefits from them. People must always opt for fresh peas containing shiny, firm, and bright green pods. It is always better to consume fresh peas immediately. However, if one can’t, people may keep them in a refrigerator for some days. Peas are wonderful (after getting lightly steamed), still one may include them in garden salads and pasta dishes, as well. Additionally, people can mix a handful of peas in their chicken or tuna salad. It gives a nice color as well.
People also add peas as a side dish (for instance, Cooked green peas) or raw in salads or as a snack. Also, they cook peas soups or peas stew. Thus, fresh peas are always the best choice. It is better to go for peas with shiny, bright green pods.
So, can diabetic patients eat peas? Absolutely yes but in moderation. Even if peas are a powerhouse of nutrients, they also contain rich amounts of carbs. Thus, one must be cautious of not taking peas in excess (or, not exceeding one’s starch intake). Remember to have only a half-cup serving to gain all the peas benefits.
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Are peas safe for kidney health?
As per studies, it was found that proteins in the common garden pea offer a natural remedy against chronic renal problems and high blood pressure.
How many peas are safe for a day?
It is good to keep the portion sizes of peas reasonable. This indicates one-third or, 117 grams or half a cup (170 grams) of green peas. They are more expected to result in problems when had in high amounts.
Are peas a good option over corn?
Both peas and yellow corn contain rich amounts of potassium and dietary fiber. Pea contains more amount of thiamin, riboflavin, and folate. Yet, yellow corn comprises more amount of pantothenic acid. Also, pea contains more of Vitamin C than corn.
Can I eat peas daily?
Don’t eat peas on a daily basis. As peas have a high GI and may increase their glucose levels when had in excess.
Last Updated on by Dr. Damanjit Duggal
The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.