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Do Green Field Peas Count as Vegetable or Starch in Diabetic Diet?

author image Jill Corleone, RDN, LD
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.
Do Green Field Peas Count as Vegetable or Starch in Diabetic Diet?
A pile of split green peas. Photo Credit: Karisssa/iStock/Getty Images

The field pea originated in Asia and was one of the first crops cultivated by humans. Not to be confused with the fresh pea, the field pea is a dry pea and includes split peas and black-eyed peas. The green field pea is high in both protein and carbohydrates, and for diabetics counts as a starch, not a vegetable.

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To help with meal planning and blood sugar control, foods for diabetics are divided into groups based on similarities in nutrient composition, namely carbohydrate, protein and fat content. Starches are foods in which one serving typically contains about 80 calories, 15 g of carbohydrates, 3 g of protein and 0 g of fat. The carb content in foods such as starches can increase blood sugar. Diabetics need to control the amount of carbs they eat throughout the day and at each meal to aid in blood sugar control.


For diabetics, vegetables are categorized into two different groups: starchy and nonstarchy vegetables. Nonstarchy vegetables are low in calories and carbs. Typically, one serving of nonstarchy vegetables contains 25 calories, 5 g of carbs, 2 g of protein and 0 g of fat. The American Diabetes Association recommends that as a diabetic, you eat as many nonstarchy vegetables as you want. Starchy vegetables have a higher carb content, and for diabetics are classified as a starch, in which one serving equals 80 calories, 15 g of carbs, 3 g of protein and 0 g of fat.

Green Field Peas

A half-cup serving of cooked green field peas, also known as split peas, contains 114 calories, 20 g of carbs, 8 g of protein and 0 g of fat. Higher in calories and carbs than a traditional serving of starch, the green field pea's nutrient composition more closely resembles a starch than a nonstarchy vegetable. When including green field peas as part of your diet plan, you need to count them as a starch.

Lean Protein

The green field pea also counts as a lean protein for diabetics because of its high protein content. A typical serving of lean protein on the diabetes exchange list contains 45 calories, 7 g of protein, 0 g of carbs and 0 to 3 g of fat.

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