While most of us are familiar with split pea soup, there is a lot behind those little peas. Did you know that dried peas have been a staple of the human diet since prehistoric times? Peas have been found in archeological digs in Egypt, Asia, and Rome. Peas also played an important role in the genetic studies of Gregor Mendel in the 19th century. History aside, those little dried peas carry a lot of punch.
Split Peas are Chock Full of Fiber and Goodness
Are you worried about your cholesterol level? Eat split peas! Full of soluble fiber, peas help to bind up cholesterol-containing bile and move it out of your body. This can help with conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis. A single cup of cooked dried peas in your daily diet provides 65.1% of the recommended daily fiber. They also provide a good amount of protein, two B-vitamins, and several important minerals. Peas also include isoflavones, which are helpful in reducing the risk of breast and prostate cancer.
If you are diabetic, or have it in your family, split peas can be your best friend. Peas help stabilize your blood sugar levels while providing a steady supply of energy. Studies have shown that type 2 diabetics who eat at least 50 grams of fiber per day can lower their cholesterol, their triglycerides, and the VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoprotein) by a considerable amount.
Peas can also reduce the amount of plaque in your blood vessels and help your heart remain healthy. If you are sensitive to sulfites, which are added to most deli foods and salad bars, the mineral molybdenum will help you detoxify them. Peas can provide you with almost twice the recommended daily allowance of this mineral from a single 1-cup serving. Signs of sulfite sensitivity may include rapid heartbeat, headache, or disorientation.
How to Enjoy Your Split Peas
Split peas come in two varieties: green and yellow. Both can be used for most recipes interchangeably. The most common way Americans eat split peas is split pea soup. This can be made with left over ham or pork, or kept vegetarian. Either way you get a thick, tasty bowl of goodness. Many people are a bit stymied after this… what else can you do with them?
Split pea dip can be made with herbs, a little olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, a few chopped olives, and some cilantro. It can be enjoyed with pita bread, just like hummus. A pilaf can be made combining split peas with brown rice and seasonings that could be a wonderful change of pace as a side dish. Indian cuisine uses a lot of yellow split peas, which they call daal. They are added to their soups, or used to make fava, which is a puree served with fish, salty foods, or dark leafy greens. They also add split peas to buckwheat or quinoa dishes. With added spices, these dishes can be mild or spicy, whichever you prefer.
As you can see split peas are as good for you as any food, you could choose. Not only are they the makings of many a tasty dish but with their added health benefits you will not feel guilty for having a little more of them.
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