Sugar snap peas are nutritious and delicious to snack on, but you could also say they have somewhat of a double identity.
That's because, for one, the sugar snap pea is a cross between an English and snow pea, and didn't become widely available until the 1970s, per the University of Arizona. They were created to provide the sweetness of fresh peas without the need for shelling, which is what makes them so delicious and convenient to munch on. Sugar snap peas have the same nutritional profile as snow peas.
Secondly, peas are unique because although they're legumes, they're considered part of both the protein foods group and the vegetable group, per the USDA. They are fantastic sources of dietary fiber, vitamin C and B vitamins. As a bonus, they're incredibly versatile and can be used as a stand-alone, low-calorie snack (use them in place of chips for dipping!) or in recipes.
Sugar Snap Peas Nutrition Facts
One cup of sugar snap peas is equal to a single serving. One cup of raw sugar snap peas or snow peas contains:
- Calories: 26
- Total fat: 0.1 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
- Sodium: 2.5 mg
- Total carbs: 4.8 g
- Dietary fiber: 1.6 g
- Sugar: 2.5 g
- Added sugar: 0 g
- Protein: 1.8 g
Sugar Snap Peas Macros
- Total fat: One cup of sugar snap peas has 0.1 grams of total fat, which includes 0.05 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 0.01 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 grams of saturated fat and 0 grams of trans fat.
- Carbohydrates: One cup of sugar snap peas has 4.8 grams of carbs, which includes 1.6 grams of fiber and 2.5 grams of naturally occurring sugars.
- Protein: One cup of sugar snap peas has 1.8 grams of protein.
Vitamins, Minerals and Other Micronutrients
- Vitamin C: 42% of your Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin A, IU: 23% DV
- Vitamin K: 13% DV
- Vitamin B5: 9% DV
- Thiamin (B1): 8% DV
- Folate (B9): 7% DV
- Iron: 7% DV
- Manganese: 7% DV
- Copper: 6% DV
- Vitamin B6: 6% DV
- Magnesium: 4% DV
- Riboflavin (B2): 4% DV
- Potassium: 3% DV
- Phosphorus: 3% DV
The Health Benefits of Sugar Snap Peas
Sugar snap peas offer plenty of nutrients in a small, crunchy package. They can be a convenient part of a nutritious diet that helps you manage a healthy weight, and can also benefit your skin, heart and more.
1. Sugar Snap Peas Are a Low-Calorie and Satisfying Snack
An entire cup of raw sugar snap peas contains just 26 calories, but will help you feel satiated with fiber, protein and water.
Adding more fruits and vegetables like sugar snap peas to your diet is a healthy way to lose or maintain weight, per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The water and fiber in vegetables add volume to your dishes, meaning you can eat the same amount of food with fewer calories than many other foods.
In fact, vegetable intake was correlated with weight loss in a July 2014 study of 120 adults with overweight on diets published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. A healthy low-calorie diet that includes five servings of vegetables per day can lead to sustained weight loss, with associated reductions in cardiovascular disease risk factors, note the researchers.
Sugar snap peas can be one delicious way to vary your vegetable intake. "Any vegetable is a smart dietary choice," says Mia Syn, RDN. "They are naturally nutrient-dense, meaning they provide a significant amount of vitamins and minerals relative to the calories they contain. They also provide fiber, an important nutrient that many Americans fall short on, as well as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants."
Each cup of sugar snap peas provides 1.6 grams of heart-healthy fiber. It may not sound like a lot, but every little bit helps you reach your daily recommended goal of 25 grams to 38 grams, per the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. On average, Americans eat just 10 to 15 grams of total fiber per day, according to Harvard Medical School.
Enjoying five servings of fruits and vegetables daily is linked to a slightly lower risk of heart attack and stroke, while 10 servings a day is tied to a 28 percent lower risk of heart disease and a 31 percent lower risk of premature death, per a February 2017 review in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
Sugar snap peas also provide the crispiness you may crave in crunchy chips, crackers or other processed snacks, but in a whole food form. “I like sugar snap peas for snacking, like dipping them into hummus or guacamole,” Syn says.
“They can also add crunch to a salad. They are crispier and tend to have a sweeter taste than snow peas.”
2. Sugar Snap Peas Are High in Vitamin C
In just 1 cup of sugar snap peas, you'll get nearly half of your daily value of vitamin C, which provides a wide variety of health benefits.
"Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and powerful antioxidant important for collagen production, an important structural component of skin," Syn says. The vitamin C content in your skin naturally decreases as you get older, per the Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute.
Diet is the most common cause of a low level of collagen in the body besides aging, and it can result in wrinkles and crepey skin. Too little collagen also leads to health issues like weakening muscles, joint pain, osteoarthritis or even gastrointestinal problems due to the thinning of the digestive tract lining, per the Cleveland Clinic.
This important antioxidant can also keep your gum tissues healthy and strong. In fact, vitamin C is tied to a lower risk of gum disease, per a July 2019 review in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
"Vitamin C also helps the body absorb iron from plant foods, making it more bioavailable to the body," Syn says. With sugar snap peas, you get two benefits in one: In addition to vitamin C, they also provide 7 percent of your daily value of iron.
Iron is essential for creating hemoglobin, a chemical that carries oxygen in your red blood cells, per Harvard Medical School. It also helps to create myoglobin, a protein found in muscle cells. It's necessary to activate specific enzymes and make collagen, amino acids, hormones and neurotransmitters.
3. Sugar Snap Peas Provide a Range of B Vitamins
With every serving of sugar snap peas, you get the following B vitamins:
- Thiamin (B1)
- Riboflavin (B2)
- Niacin (B3)
- Vitamin B5
- Vitamin B6
- Folate (B9)
Your body needs B vitamins to form red blood cells and produce energy from the food you eat, per the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Although B vitamins are typically found in proteins like fish, meat, eggs and dairy products, certain plant foods like leafy green vegetables, beans and peas like sugar snap peas also have B vitamins.
Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is especially important during pregnancy because getting enough helps to lower the risk of spine and brain deformities in the baby, per the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Meanwhile, vitamin B6 helps to produce insulin, create non-essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein) and fight infection.
Sugar Snap Peas Health Risks
Allergy to peas is not common but has been reported. In fact, you can have an allergic reaction from any food containing protein, per the U.K.-based charity Anaphylaxis Campaign. Speak to an allergist if you suspect you've had a reaction to sugar snap peas.
Food allergy symptoms may include itching, swelling, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and, in rare cases, life-threatening anaphylaxis.
There are no known drug interactions with sugar snap peas. If you have questions or concerns about drug interactions or when to take your medication, talk to your doctor.
Sugar Snap Peas Preparation and Helpful Tips
There are several ways you can enjoy sugar snap peas as part of a healthy snack or meal. Here's how to store and cook with sugar snap peas to get the most out of them.
Don't wait too long to eat them. Because the sugar in sugar snap peas quickly turns into starch (as much as 40 percent is converted in just a few hours!), it's best to eat them as soon as possible, per the University of Illinois Extension. Fresh peas keep for two to three days in the refrigerator. Hold off on washing your peas until you're ready to eat them.
Add them to a variety of dishes. Although sugar snap peas are fantastic on their own as a snack, they can also be added to a salad, pasta or stir-fry for refreshing flavor without many calories, per the North Carolina Cooperative Extension.
Two easy ways to eat sugar snap peas: Sauté them with olive oil, salt and pepper or toss raw sugar snap peas with tomatoes, red pepper, red onion, walnuts, cranberries and crumbled feta for a satisfying salad.
Alternatives to Sugar Snap Peas
You can try several types of peas and other legumes in place of sugar snap peas. Alternatives include:
- Snow peas
- English peas
- Cannellini beans
- University of Arizona: "Sugar Snap Peas"
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: "Beans and peas are unique foods"
- My Food Data: "Snow Peas"
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "How to Use Fruits and Vegetables to Help Manage Your Weight"
- European Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Weight loss effects from vegetable intake: a 12-month randomised controlled trial"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Easy Ways to Boost Fiber in Your Daily Diet"
- Harvard Medical School: "Should I be eating more fiber?"
- International Journal of Epidemiology: "Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality—a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies"
- Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center: "Vitamin C and Skin Health"
- Cleveland Clinic: "The Best Way You Can Get More Collagen"
- International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health: "The Relationship between Vitamin C and Periodontal Diseases: A Systematic Review"
- Harvard Medical School: "Precious metals and other important minerals for health"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "B Vitamins"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "What Are B-Vitamins?"
- Anaphylaxis Campaign: "Legumes (Including Pulses)"
- University of Illinois Extension: "Peas"
- North Carolina Cooperative Extension: "What's New... Sugar Snap Peas"