Though the popular music group is probably the first thing that comes to mind when hearing black-eyed peas, it’s actually one of the more popular legumes around the world. Getting their start in West Africa, black-eyed peas have been a staple in many diets around the world, including here in the United States. Many consider black-eyed peas to be a part of the soul food world, as they’re often associated with the south.Advertisements:
One tradition that has caught on in the past couple of hundred years is eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day, as it’s said to bring luck for the coming year. However, you don’t need a special reason to eat black-eyed peas since they can be tremendous for your health, as well as tasty. Whether boiled or mashed, black-eyed peas have a wide range of benefits, just make sure that you’re not frying them. To show you what black-eyed peas can do for your health, let’s take a closer look at the nutritional value and point out some of those fantastic (and proven) health benefits.
Nutrition of Black-eyed Peas
Each 100 grams serving of boiled black-eyed peas (which is around 3.5 ounces) has a high amount of nutrition for just 116 calories. In that serving, you get a whopping 15 percent of your daily recommendation of protein, as well as a quarter of your daily dietary fiber needs. Out of the vitamins, the one that really stands out is folate, with over half of your daily recommendation. The thiamin level is also significant with 13 percent daily value.
Other vitamins in smaller amounts (around five percent daily value) include vitamin C, vitamin K, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid. There are plenty of helpful minerals, as well, with a quarter of your daily manganese and between 10 to 20 percent of your needed iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and copper. As a nice bonus, you’ll even get small amounts of calcium and selenium, with zero cholesterol per serving and just a half gram of fat (only 0.1 grams saturated).
Easy to Digest
Researchers suggest that the average person gets between 25 and 30 grams of dietary fiber on a daily basis. Unfortunately, almost all of us are falling short of that goal as it’s estimated that more than 90 percent of people in the United States don’t meet these recommendations. Adding black-eyed peas to your diet is a great way of making sure that you get closer to your fiber goals, with 6.5 grams of dietary fiber in each serving.
While you might feel fine digestive wise, you don’t realize how much better you can feel until you start adding more fiber. Since dietary fiber introduces probiotics into your digestive system, you’ll be able to flush out harmful bacteria and other toxins so that you’re digesting more efficiently, avoiding problems such as constipation, diarrhea, cramps or bloating. There’s even a link between an increased fiber intake and a reduction in chances of colon cancer!
Great For the Heart
While fiber does get a lot of attention for its benefits to your digestive health, it’s just as important for your heart. When you eat more fiber, your body won’t absorb cholesterol as frequently, cutting your chances of heart disease drastically. There are other important factors in black-eyed peas that further help your heart. For starters, there’s almost no saturated fat in each serving and very little sodium.
That alone makes black-eyed peas part of a good heart healthy diet, but the amount of potassium also helps. Potassium can lower your blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels and getting rid of excess sodium so that you avoid heart disease. With the ability to balance your blood sugar, as well, black-eyed peas hit the trifecta of heart health.
Each serving of black-eyed peas contains just 116 calories, making it fairly easy to fit into your weight loss calorie budget. Though you’ll have to make some substitutions, adding black-eyed peas will be easy as you won’t feel as hungry throughout the day. A big reason for that is the high amount of dietary fiber, which is shown to satisfy cravings and help you avoid that mid-afternoon feeling of hunger, even when you don’t need the calories.
There’s also a surprisingly high amount of protein in each serving of black-eyed peas. Adding more protein to your diet helps build muscle, while repairing damaged muscle. More muscle means that you’re burning more calories throughout the day, resulting in a loss of body fat. Thanks to iron that makes you feel more energized, black-eyed peas are great to eat before and after a workout.
For Expecting Mothers
It seems that when you’re pregnant, the doctor gives you an incredibly long list of foods that you have to avoid, and only a short list of foods you can eat. Thankfully, black-eyed peas are on the list of foods suggested for pregnant women thanks to the high amount of folate. With more than half of a day’s worth, black-eyed peas help make pregnancy easier by creating new cells in the body, which is essential in child development.
Studies have shown that pregnant women who get more folate in their diet have a lower risk for children with neural tube defects. Even while nursing, women should be getting plenty of folate as it helps avoid a deficiency that could affect your immune system. Folate has also been shown to help people that have had liver or kidney disease, or are even recovering alcoholics.
If you want to prevent osteoporosis and bone loss in general as you get older, you obviously need to have more calcium in your diet. Though black-eyed peas aren’t a great source of calcium, they have something that’s just as important. It won’t matter how much calcium you’re getting for your bones if you’re not also getting manganese, which is abundant in black-eyed peas. Manganese allows your body to absorb calcium more efficiently, resulting in less bone loss. There’s also a link between high manganese levels and a relief in symptoms from arthritis, which leads to less pain in your joints, improving your quality of life.
Summing it Up
Black-eyed peas have a bevy of unique health benefits that they bring, but are there any drawbacks when you add them to your diet? If you’re not used to getting a high amount of fiber (and a lot of people aren’t), you might experience some temporary discomfort. As your digestive system adapts to getting more fiber, it could result in some stomach pain that typically lasts for just a day or two. The good news is that this is normally a sign of improvement.
The only other real thing that you need to worry about is how gassy black-eyed peas can make you. Studies have shown that out of all of the legumes, those who eat black-eyed peas had the largest increase in flatulence at nearly 20 percent. It seemed like an odd study to have, but some people have to know the answers to just about every question. If you can get past this minor side effect, you’ll enjoy both the taste and benefits that you get from black-eyed peas, so pick some up today!