In 1996, Wang YH and Mcintosh GH from CSIRO Division of Human Nutrition, Australia reported
from Universidade de Evora, Portugal, reported a raw pea seed diet was able to lower the plasma
total cholesterol in pigs via a mechanism involving increased fecal bile acid output and an
increased biliary bile acid concentration.
Peas have been used in the dry form since ancient times, and archaeologists found them in
Egyptian tombs. It was not until the sixteenth century that more tender varieties were developed
and eaten fresh. Today only about 5 % of all peas grown are sold fresh. More than half of all
peas sold are canned and most of the rest are frozen.
Green peas are actually a member of the legume family. This family includes plants that bear
pods enclosing fleshy seeds. Green peas do not require the long cooking times that are required
by dried legumes such as split peas and pinto beans. Peas are a good low calorie source of
protein. A 100-calorie serving of peas (about ¾ cup) contains more protein than a whole egg or a
tablespoon of peanut butter and has less than one gram of fat and no cholesterol.
Fresh green peas should be refrigerated. Half of their sugar content will turn to starch within six
hours if they are kept at room temperature. Low temperatures also preserve their texture and
nutrient content. Look for pods that are firm, have glossy pods with a slightly velvety feel, filled to
appear almost bursting, and peas should not rattle loosely in the pod. Pods should not be dull,
yellowed, or heavily speckled.
Snow peas should be shiny and flat, with very small peas that are barely visible through the pod.
Smaller pods are the sweetest and the most tender. Sugar snap peas should be bright green,
plump, and firm.
It is best to serve all types of fresh peas the day they are purchased. If they must be stored,
place them in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator. Do not wash them before they are
stored. Shell green peas right before you cook them.
Rinse peas before shelling them. To shell peas, pinch the stem off with your fingernails and pull
the string down the length of the pod. The pod will pop open and the peas can be pushed out of
the pod with your thumb. When finished, wash all peas.
Rinse snow peas and sugar snap peas before use. To trim snow peas, cut the tips from both
ends of the pod. This can be done with kitchen shears. Sugar snap peas need to have the
strings removed before eaten cooked or raw. The string runs around both sides of the sugar
snap pod. It is easiest to start from the bottom tip and pull the string up the front, and then snap
the stem off and pull the string down the back of the pod.
Green peas are nestled within large, bulging, grass green pods that are typically round and
sweet. The green pea pods are tough, do not have good flavor, and therefore, are not eaten.
Snow peas (Chinese pea pods) and sugar snap peas are more often found fresh, but many
companies are now selling them frozen. These peas are eaten raw or cooked with the pod intact.
One serving of peas is 1/2 cup or 80 g of cooked peas. One serving size contains 70 calories, 0
calories from fat, 0 g from total fat, 0 mg of sodium, 13 g of total carbohydrate, 4 g of dietary
fiber, 5 g of sugars, 4 g of protein 15% daily value of vitamin A, 2% daily value of vitamin C, 2%
of calcium and 6% of iron. The percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
 Wang YH and Mcintosh GH, Extrusion and boiling improve rat body weight gain and plasma cholesterol lowering ability of
peas and chickpeas. J Nutr. 1996 Dec;126(12):3054-62.  Martins JM et al, Dietary raw peas (Pisum sativum L.) reduce plasma
total and LDL cholesterol and hepatic esterified cholesterol in intact and ileorectal anastomosed pigs fed cholesterol-rich diets. J
Nutr. 2004 Dec;134(12):3305-12. SOURCE CRC.gov
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