If you're the type who only eats black-eyed peas on New Year's Day for a little extra luck, you might want to bump up your intake throughout the year.
With their firm texture and nutty flavor, black-eyed peas (also known as cowpeas) make a yummy side dish and hearty addition to any soup or stew.
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Black-Eyed Peas Nutrition Facts
When it comes to nutrition, you really can't go wrong with beans, including the super nutrient-rich, black-eyed beans. These savory legumes are an excellent source of complex carbs, fiber and many essential vitamins and minerals.
A 1/2 cup of canned black-eyed peas, according to the USDA, contains:
- Calories: 80
- Protein: 2.6 g
- Fat: 0.3 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
- Carbohydrates: 17 g
- Fiber: 4.1 g
- Sugar: 2.7 g
- Protein: 2.6 g
- Folate (B9): 26% DV
- Vitamin A: 22% DV
- Vitamin K: 18%
- Manganese: 21% DV
- Copper: 12% DV
- Magnesium: 10% DV
If you choose to get canned black-eyed peas (rather than cooking dry peas), look closely at the sodium content. If possible, choose a can labeled "low-sodium" or "no-sodium." If you can't find those, rinse and drain the beans, which can reduce the salt by up to 36 percent, per North Dakota State University.
The Health Benefits of Black-Eyed Peas
1. Black-Eyed Peas Are a Good Source of Folate
Each 1/2-cup serving of black-eyed peas offers up nearly 105 micrograms of folate (vitamin B9), equivalent to 26 percent of the recommended daily value.
While most Americans get enough folate from their diet, a deficiency could lead to megaloblastic anemia, which can cause fatigue, trouble concentrating, headaches and heart palpitations, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Getting enough folate in your diet has other health benefits, too. Those with lower levels of folate may be more apt to have depression and might not respond as well to treatment, per the NIH. And, naturally occurring folate, such as that in black-eyed peas — compared to folic acid supplements or foods fortified with folic acid — is linked to a reduced risk of several types of cancer.
2. Black-Eyed Peas Can Support Digestive Health
Each serving of black-eyed peas contains more than 4 grams of dietary fiber, a type of indigestible carbs that provides a bounty of health benefits. Most Americans only get 15 grams of fiber a day, but you should aim for 25 to 30 grams daily, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
When you eat enough fiber, your digestive system benefits. People who ate the most fiber were less likely to have chronic constipation compared with those who ate the least amount of fiber, per a February 2020 study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
And eating an average of 28.5 grams of fiber a day is associated with a decreased risk of diverticulitis, a painful inflammation of pouches that line your digestive system, per a January 2020 study in Gastroenterology.
Watch out for the total amount of fiber that you eat and how quickly you add it to your diet. If you add too much too fast, you might experience gas, bloating or cramping, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Eating too much fiber can be particularly problematic for those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Although fiber can help alleviate IBS symptoms, eating too much too fast will make you feel worse than being on a low-fiber diet, according to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders.
3. Black-Eyed Peas Are Good for Your Heart
A diet rich in plant foods — such as pulses like black-eyed peas — is healthy for your heart.
People who ate the most pulses were observed to reduce their risk of heart disease and high blood pressure by as much as 10 percent when compared to those who ate the least, per a November 2019 study in the journal Advanced Nutrition.
4. Black-Eyed Peas Could Help With Weight Loss
Because black-eyed peas are high in fiber and protein and low in calories and fat, they can be an integral part of a weight-loss diet.
A review of studies published in March 2016 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people whose diets contained pulses experienced significant weight loss over a six-week period, even when the diet wasn't intended to be calorically restricted.
Black-Eyed Peas Preparation and Tips
Black-eyed peas can be used in a variety of recipes, particularly salads, soups and side dishes. Here's how to include them as part of a nutritious diet.
Soak dried black-eyed peas for faster cooking. If you want to cook dry black-eyed peas and are in a time crunch, soak each cup of legumes in a 1/2 to 3/4 cup of liquid for an hour, recommends Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.
Cook with a pressure cooker. The fastest way to cook dried black-eyed peas is with a pressure cooker. Add 1 cup of water per cup of dry peas (if they're soaked; if not, use 2 cups of water) to the pressure cooker. Cook soaked black-eyed peas for 5 to 8 minutes and unsoaked for 15 to 25 minutes, then let the pressure release naturally, per the American Pulse Association.
Limit the ham hock. While it might be traditional to boil black-eyed peas with a ham hock on New Year's Day, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests using leaner meat such as turkey bacon or flavoring the peas with other vegetables, as well as herbs and spices.
- MyFoodData: "Cooked Black Eyed Peas"
- National Institutes of Health: "Folate"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Fiber"
- Journal of the American College of Nutrition: "Risk Factors for Constipation in Adults: A Cross-Sectional Study"
- Gastroenterology: "An Insoluble Mystery: Fiber and Diverticulitis"
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Effects of Dietary Pulse Consumption on Body Weight: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials"
- Mayo Clinic: "Dietary Fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet"
- International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders: "Dietary Fiber"
- Advanced Nutrition: "Associations between Dietary Pulses Alone or with Other Legumes and Cardiometabolic Disease Outcomes: An Umbrella Review and Updated Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies"
- North Dakota State University: "All About Beans Nutrition, Health Benefits, Preparation and Use in Menus"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Black-Eyed Peas Deserve Year-Round Attention"
- Texas A&M AgriLife Extension: "How to Quick-Soak Black-Eyed Peas"
- American Pulse Association: "How to Cook Pulses in a Pressure Cooker"