Peas are part of the pulse family. Although you can grow peas in many parts of the United States, the main commercial crops grow in the northern part of the United States. If you are focused on losing weight, the simple pea offers you a wide range of vitamins and minerals in a low-calorie, flavorful package.
Dried and canned peas offer you nutritional benefits while dieting. Peas, as a member of the legume family, may reduce the likelihood that you develop metabolic syndrome, which is a condition that increases your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke, according to the National Institutes of Health. A study published in the March 2011 issue of the "European Journal of Clinical Nutrition" found that male participants who ate more legumes, seafood and berries had a significantly lower risk of metabolic syndrome than those who consumed less of these foods.
Calories and Nutrients
The USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory indicates that 1 cup of edible podded cooked peas has 64 calories, meaning you can eat 2 to 3 cups of peas throughout the day and consume less than 200 calories. Peas are a good source of protein, with 1 cup offering you 5.2 g protein. The protein in the peas aids in keeping you full. Peas also contain 4.5 g fiber per cup, 67 mg calcium and 3.2 g iron. Other nutrients include potassium, vitamin C, choline and 83 mcg vitamin A.
Carbohydrates and Cholesterol
Peas make a good low-calorie choice when following a low-fat diet or a diet that recommends eating a wide variety of foods. A low-fat diet often requires you limit your cholesterol intake, and peas contain no cholesterol. However, if you follow one of the popular low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets, the carbohydrate level in peas may not fall within your diet's recommendations. A single cup of peas has 10.3 g carbohydrates. Many high-protein diets recommend a carbohydrate intake of between 50 and 150 g, and advise you limit the amount of starchy vegetables you consume.
You can use dried peas in salads or as a main dish by first soaking the peas and then cooking them until tender. Canned peas may contain excessive amounts of sodium. Add cooked peas to a chef's salad instead of meat, saute cooked peas with onions and garlic, puree the peas to help thicken low-calorie soups or saute the peas with a vegetable and almond stir-fry. If you add high-calorie ingredients such as shortening, butter or oil to your peas, you will negate their low-calorie benefits.