Split peas are a healthy and nutritious food. As a low-fat food, they are a good source of soluble and insoluble fiber and an excellent source of protein. They are an easy food to add to your diet and boast plenty of healthy nutrients. Let’s dive further into the health benefits of split peas that will have you screaming, more peas, please!
What Are Split Peas?
Split peas result from green peas or yellow peas being dried and their skins removed, which naturally then result in split peas. Green split peas tend to be favored in the United States and Great Britain. While yellow split peas tend to be more favored in northern Europe and Scandinavia.
Both varieties of split peas, yellow and green, taste much like their whole pea counterparts and carry similar nutritional properties. A cooking bonus is that split peas do not require presoaking before cooking and cook rather quickly, which can be great for quick prep.
Split peas are sometimes thought of as a starchy vegetable, like squash and potatoes, because they are high in complex carbohydrates, but they are actually part of the legume family. Other members of the legume family you may be familiar with include lentils and beans. Like many other legumes, split peas offer significant levels of protein, making them a great source of protein for people on a primarily plant-based diet.
11 Health Benefits of Split Peas
1. Improves Heart Health
According to a review published in Advances in Nutrition, consuming beans, lentils, peas, and other legumes reduces the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and high blood pressure.
Split peas are high in fiber and soluble fiber, which may help lower blood cholesterol levels, both the total and bad LDL cholesterol, which can help reduce your risk of heart disease.
While the potassium in split peas helps lower blood pressure, which can also contribute to heart disease.
Split peas also help reduce plaque in blood vessels, helping to reduce the risk for heart disease.
Split peas also contain important minerals and nutrients, such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, flavonols, carotenoids, vitamin C, and antioxidants, all of which may support heart health.
2. Helps Lower Cholesterol Levels
Split Peas are packed full of fiber; in fact, 1 cup of cooked split peas contains about 16 grams of fiber, which is more than half of the recommended daily intake of 25-30 grams of fiber. That fiber includes soluble fiber, which carries cholesterol out by forming a gel-like substance in the digestive tract that binds bile and carries it out of the body, ultimately support the reduction of cholesterol absorption into your bloodstream.
3. Helps Lower High Blood Pressure
Split peas are also a source of potassium, which have been shown to help lower blood pressure or hypertension by dissolving into body fluids that help regulate blood pressure. Potassium is an essential mineral that also helps support the metabolism and nervous system.
4. Supports Weight Loss & Healthy Weight Management
Split peas are rich in fiber and a great source of plant protein, which can help make you feel fuller for a longer period of time. Split peas take longer to digest, which also helps you feel fuller for longer after a meal, which can benefit weight loss or weight control.
5. Helps Regulate Blood Sugar Levels
As mentioned, peas are such an excellent source of fiber, that high fiber content supports the body in regulating blood sugar levels. Split peas are a low glycemic index food and the soluble fiber helps slow down the absorption of sugar and a slow and steady release of glucose.
Split peas are packed full of soluble fiber and are a good source of protein. Split peas also support the lowering of blood sugar levels and promote healthy bacteria in the gut.
6. Promotes a Healthy Gut & Digestive System Regulation
The fiber in split peas helps feed the good bacteria in the intestines, which helps promote healthy bacteria in the gut and helps keep unhealthy bacteria in check; and promoting overall digestive health.
A healthy gut may also reduce one’s risk for developing gastrointestinal conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.
7. Reduces Risk of Cancer
Split peas contain isoflavones; one isoflavone in particular called Daidzein has been shown to help decrease the risk of certain types of cancer, particularly breast cancer and prostate cancer. Isoflavones are classified as phytoestrogens because they are plant-derived and have estrogen-like effects. They may also help support the estrogen hormone and may help reduce hot flashes or other symptoms of menopause.
8. Provides High Levels of Antioxidants
Split peas are rich in polyphenol antioxidants, which are likely responsible for many of the health benefits of split peas. Studies show that polyphenols help prevent and reverse damage to cells caused by aging, environment, and lifestyle. Keeping these cells healthy leads to a decreased risk of many chronic diseases.
Polyphenols help protect the body by improving heart health, lowering diabetes risk, promoting anticancer properties, and supporting the immune system. Research shows that polyphenols can activate your immune system to fight off infection and disease. Polyphenols also promote good bacteria growth in your gut and limit harmful bacteria.
9. Promotes Muscle Strength and Healthy Bones
Several trace minerals that split peas contain all have beneficial effects on various parts of the body.
The Manganese found in split peas is good for bones, cartilage formation, and strength.
Split peas also contain copper. Copper has been found to be critical in the prevention of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.
10. Helps Reduce Sulfite Sensitivity
For people who are sensitive to sulfates, split peas contain a trace mineral called molybdenum, which can be beneficial in helping to detox sulfites. People sensitive to sulfites may experience symptoms such as a headache or nauseousness from consuming foods with sulfites. Sulfites can be found in various foods such as baked goods, wines, jams, syrups, chips, and more.
11. Helps to Regulate Sleep and Improve Mood
Split peas are a great source of the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan helps the body produce serotonin, which can help regulate sleep and improve one’s mood.
Nutritional Profile for Split Peas
Overall, split peas are a great source of nutrition. One cup of cooked split peas contains 16 grams of protein and 16 grams of dietary fiber. They are also a great source of potassium, containing 20% of the daily value in just one cup of cooked split peas.
Nutritional Value for One Cup (196 g) of Cooked Split Peas
|Calories||231||% Daily Value|
– Saturated fat
|Vitamin C||0.8 mg||1%|
|Vitamin B-6||0.1 mg||5%|
Split peas are a nutritious food that can make a great addition to a healthy diet. You can use them in a healthy split pea soup or make a simple side dish by adding some olive oil and spices to some pre-soaked split peas and sauteing them in a skillet on medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Another simple option is to boil them with water or bone broth for about 20 minutes until tender but not mushy.
Regardless of how you cook them, split peas can make a great nutritious addition to most meals!
Karla Kueber is a Certified Evidence Based EFT Practioner and Health Coach, with a double Masters Degree in Education. She works with people to overcome emotional eating, curb cravings, and overcome resistance to eating new healthy foods. You can learn more about coaching with her here.