People have been eating peas for thousands of years, but sugar snap peas are a fairly new variety, developed in 1979, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. The fibers in the pod of the snap pea, unlike those in green, or garden, peas, go only in one direction, which makes the pods edible. Crunchy and sweet, snap peas make a delicious vegetable side dish or snack, plus they're low in calories and good source of fiber, iron, potassium and vitamin C.
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Low in Calories
With 44 calories per 1-cup cooked serving, snap peas fill you up without costing you too many calories. If you're trying to control your calorie intake to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, foods like snap peas make a good choice. When it comes to feeling full, the volume of food matters more than calorie content, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Low-calorie foods like snap peas make it easy for you to stay within your calorie limits while still helping you keep hunger away.
A 1-cup serving of cooked snap peas contains 10 grams of carbs and 4 grams of fiber. Carbs are your body's preferred source of energy, and should supply 45 percent to 65 percent of your calories. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate your body cannot digest. Fiber in foods like snap peas helps prevent constipation, and getting more of it in your diet might reduce your risk of heart disease. Your daily fiber needs depend on your age and gender. In general, women need 21 to 25 grams of fiber a day, and men need 30 to 38 grams.
Source of Protein, Some Fat
A 1/2-cup serving of cooked snap peas contains 2 grams of protein and 0.4 grams of total fat. Protein and fat are essential nutrients just like carbs. Protein in food like snap peas is used to promote immune health and make hormones and enzymes. Your body also uses fat in food as a source of energy. Fat is needed to help maintain cell membranes and assist with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. You should get 10 percent to 35 percent of your calories from protein and 20 percent to 35 percent of your calories from fat.
Vitamins and Minerals
Snap peas also help you meet some of your vitamin and mineral needs, including vitamin C, folate and potassium. You need vitamin C to repair tissue. It is also an antioxidant that protects your cells from damage by free radicals. Folate is a B vitamin that helps make new cells. Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant need adequate amounts of folate to prevent spinal cord defects in their babies. Potassium is a mineral needed for building proteins and muscle, and it also helps control the acid-base balance in your body.