A highly nutritious food we rarely hear about anymore is the green pea, but this wasn’t always the case. Once upon a time, about 10 000 years ago, green peas (often mistaken as a vegetable; they are in fact a legume) helped develop agricultural societies as they were one of the first cultivated crops. 5000 years later our Egyptian ancestors worshipped this valuable food source so much they buried them with Pharos to take with them into the afterlife. Rome’s first cookbook celebrate these green
gems with nine elaborate recipes. The English children’s rhyme Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot 9 days old is a tribute to the pea as they helped sustain the masses during the 16th century famine. And of course for almost 200 years a single pea has been the focus of one of the most famous children stories of all time - Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale The Princess and the Pea.
With such a rich history and so much nutritional value it surprises me that we don’t hear more about the powerful pea. But the main reason I’m focusing on the pea is that these it has a lot of essential nutrients and health benefits for people with SCI. Here are 10 reasons why you should incorporate peas into your diet:
1. They are a healthy source of protein to help maintain skin integrity
2. They are a complex carbohydrates which helps sustain blood sugar levels for energy
3. They are low in fats and cholesterol to help maintain healthy lipid levels
4. They are low in calories to help maintain an ideal weight
5. They high in fibre to help support bowel function/routines
6. Compared to other legumes they have a high vitamin C content to help boost the immune system
7. They contain calcium and magnesium to help support bone health
8. Unlike other legumes, they are less likely to cause gas
9. They are environmentally friendly, as they have special nodules on their roots which enable them to take nitrogen from the air and fix it in the soil. Thus, peas actually enrich the soil they grow in.
10. Lastly, compared to other nutrient dense foods they are inexpensive!
They culinary potential of the pea is endless. They can liven up any of your favourite stew, soup, casserole salad or curry dishes. And their versatility goes beyond consumption – you can put a bag of frozen peas on sore or injured limbs to help reduce inflammation.
So please, give peas a chance!