Health Benefits of Black-Eyed Peas

Black eyed peas
A sack spilling black-eyed peas onto a spoon. (Image: Imran Khan/iStock/Getty Images)

Black-eyed peas are actually a bean and are part of the vegetable group on the Food Guide Pyramid. They are available dried, frozen and canned and offer several health benefits when included in a well-balanced diet. They make a good addition to soups, stews and salads and are also a healthy side dish.

Fiber

One of the main health benefits of black-eyed peas is their high fiber content. A 1/2 cup of dry black-eyed peas that are cooked have 5.6 g of fiber, while a 1/2 cup of canned black-eyed peas contains 4 g. These amounts will vary among brands of black-eyed peas. Fiber is a nutrient that helps regulate your digestive system, and increasing your intake could help alleviate constipation and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Fiber also helps keep your cholesterol levels healthy by preventing cholesterol from being absorbed into your bloodstream, which reduces your risk of developing heart disease. Additionally, high-fiber foods keep you feeling full, since they are digested slowly -- which is important for weight control.

Potassium

A 1/2 cup of dry and cooked black-eyed peas contains 239 mg of potassium, and the same amount from a can has 206 mg. Potassium is a nutrient that helps keep your blood pressure levels at healthy numbers, which lowers your risk of heart disease. Getting adequate potassium in your diet from black-eyed peas also supports the health of your muscles and bones.

Low in Fat and Calories

Black-eyed peas are a low-fat and low-calorie food, making them a healthy addition to a weight-loss meal plan. Canned versions vary in content, but a 1/2 cup of black-eyed peas is generally less than 100 calories and contains about 1 g of fat. A diet that is low in fat and calories helps you lose weight, prevents weight gain and protects you from many health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes and depression.

Protein

Black-eyed peas are a good alternative source of protein if you don't eat meat. Protein is important because it supports most of the parts of your body, including muscles, skin, hair and nails. In addition, protein helps cells grow and repair and provides energy to your body. A 1/2 cup of dry and cooked black-eyed peas contains 6.7 g of protein, and a 1/2 cup of canned black-eyed peas contains 5.7 g.

Iron

A 1/2 cup of canned black-eyed peas has 1.2 mg of iron, while a 1/2 cup that has been cooked from dry black-eyed peas contains 2.2 mg. Getting adequate iron in your diet prevents anemia, which produces fatigue and weakness. Iron carries oxygen throughout your body to your organs, cells and muscles, and if the supply is low you experience sluggishness.

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