Dried white peas, also known as white peas, are a type of legume that have been consumed for centuries in various parts of the world, particularly in the Indian subcontinent, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions. While green peas are harvested when the pods are still young and tender, white peas are left to mature and dry on the vine before being harvested. This gives them a different texture and flavour compared to green peas. White peas are commonly used in soups, stews, curries, and salads, and are also a popular ingredient in street food dishes such as chaat and ragda patties. Despite their similarities to other peas, dried white peas have their own distinct health benefits and culinary uses.
Health benefits of dried white peas
May help in managing diabetes
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a measure of how quickly the carbohydrates in food are digested and absorbed, affecting blood glucose levels. Foods with lower GI values are digested and absorbed more slowly, leading to a smaller rise in blood glucose levels and lower insulin resistance. Peas have a low GI value of 22 due to the fibre and protein they contain, which helps slow down digestion and stabilise blood sugar levels after eating. Excessive sugar intake can lead to health problems like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, and research shows that pea fibre can help reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood. Pea starches with a low GI may be helpful for insulin resistance and preventing associated diseases. Pea polysaccharides may also have potential for improving diabetes-related pancreatic tissue damage.
Helps maintain the intestinal flora
An uncontrolled immune response in the gut microbiome can lead to chronic inflammation and conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Dietary fibre can help restore balance in the gut microbiota and support homeostasis. Pea hull fibre has been found to modulate gut microbiota, particularly bifidobacteria, while low-phytate biofortified pea varieties can improve the bioavailability of dietary iron and the functionality of the brush border membrane. Bifidobacteria can prevent enteric infections and suppress pathogenic bacteria, enhancing the host’s immune system. Non-digestible oligosaccharides, like fructo-oligosaccharides, promote the growth of bifidobacteria and alter the composition of the colonic microbiota. Pea fibre has been shown to affect gut microbiota in combination with a high protein diet.
May help in maintaining cardiovascular health
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) has become a major cause of death in developing countries. Hypertension, which raises blood pressure levels, is a significant risk factor for CVD. Overweight and obesity, especially in women, increase the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Lifestyle measures, such as increasing dietary fibre intake, can prevent hypercholesterolemia, a major risk factor for CHD. Higher intake of dietary fibre has been associated with a reduced risk of CVD, particularly soluble fibre. The average daily intake of dietary fibre is around 29g, and consuming less than this amount increases the risk of hypercholesterolemia and LDL cholesterol. Green peas contain flavonoids, carotenoids, vitamin C, and antioxidants that can modify cardiometabolic risks and protect cells from damage, reducing the risk of heart-related diseases and stroke.
May have anti-cancer properties
The adoption of a western diet high in animal protein, fat and refined carbohydrates can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of cancer-causing agents, although it is not considered a carcinogen in itself. However, pea extracts have shown pharmacological activity and demonstrated anticancer properties. Peas are rich in biologically active compounds that may reduce the risk of tumours when consumed at certain levels. White peas, in particular, contain isoflavones such as genistein and daidzein, which belong to phytoestrogens and have anti-carcinogenic effects. Genistein has been found to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells in humans, making it a potential agent in reducing breast cancer risk. Pulses, which are rich in dietary fibre, have also been linked to a reduction in certain types of cancer, particularly colorectal and rectal cancer. Other bioactive compounds found in pulses, including resistant starch, non-starch polysaccharides, oligosaccharides, folate, selenium, zinc, saponins, and lectins, may have a protective role against cancer. Peas are a good source of various bioactive micronutrients and phytochemicals, contributing to a healthy diet and reducing the risk of cancer.
May help in weight loss
Studies have demonstrated that pulse consumption can lead to weight loss in both negative and neutral energy balance scenarios likely because of their low caloric content and the multiple functional benefits of dietary fibre contained in them . Pea fibre, for instance, is capable of binding three times its weight in water but has a lower viscosity compared to wheat and potato fibres. Research has established a link between higher fibre intake and lower body weight . Pea protein hydrolysates have also shown promise in mitigating obesity-related conditions. While some genetic traits of pea and its by-products remain unexplored, incorporating them into one’s diet could cater to the growing demand for vegan and flexitarian food options and bolster the nutritional value of infant food by supplementing it with prebiotic oligosaccharide-rich fibres.
Dried white peas are a nutritious and versatile food source that can be used in a variety of dishes. With their high protein and fibre content, they have been shown to have numerous health benefits, including improving blood sugar control, reducing cholesterol levels, and aiding in weight management. Additionally, they are a good source of important vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, and folate. Compared to other legumes, dried white peas have a unique taste and texture that make them a great addition to soups, stews, and curries. Their long shelf life and affordability also make them a convenient option for meal planning and preparation. Overall, incorporating dried white peas into your diet can be a healthy and delicious way to improve your overall well-being.
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