No, we’re not talking about the hip-hop group—although, sure, music is therapeutic in its own right. We’re discussing the health benefits of the food black-eyed peas. And no, they aren’t peas. Black-eyed peas are actually a type of bean. Each bean is cream-colored with a small black spot, giving these legumes the appearance of an eye. Black-eyed peas are an incredibly versatile food— a perfect addition to any soup, stew, chili, salad, or burger, or as a simple but delicious side dish. Not only are they versatile, but these beans pack a mean nutrition profile, making them super healthy.
Beans are an excellent source of fiber—and black-eyed peas are no exception. One cup of black-eyed peas contains 11.2 grams of fiber— a whopping 45 percent of your recommended daily intake (RDI). Fiber is needed for healthy bowel movements. It helps keep you regular by absorbing water and bulking up the stool so that it can move smoothly through the digestive system. Not only does fiber keep you regular, but it also fills you up. After eating a serving of black-eyed peas, you’ll feel full and satisfied— and you’ll be less likely to reach for unhealthy foods in between meals.
It’s true what they say… beans, beans, are good for your heart. Black-eyed peas are rich in both fiber and potassium—two very important nutrients for regulating blood pressure. Potassium reduces blood pressure by balancing out the negative effects of sodium and by easing tension in the blood vessels. Research shows that diets high in fiber are associated with a reduction in blood pressure levels. Fiber doesn’t only benefit the heart by reducing blood pressure though; it also reduces “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood. Soluble fiber found in beans lowers the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke.
Black-eyed peas are an excellent source of iron. One cup of these beans contains 24 percent of your RDI. Iron is needed for the production of red blood cells (hemoglobin) which carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. When a person is deficient in iron, that person also becomes deficient in red blood cells. This condition is called anemia, and its symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating, pale skin, and leg cramps. Iron is especially important for pregnant women, who have an increase in blood volume during pregnancy with a 20-30 percent increase in red blood cell mass.
During pregnancy, a woman’s nutrient intake must increase— not only to help the growing human inside of her but to support her changing body and her blood volume increase. Black-eyed peas contain so many nutrients vital to a healthy pregnancy including fiber, protein, folate, iron, and more. Folate, or vitamin B9—also referred to as folic acid in supplement form—is an absolutely crucial nutrient to a healthy pregnancy. This vitamin plays a major role in DNA synthesis. Research shows that folate deficiency raises the risk for neural tube defects (NTDs) such as spina bifida and anencephaly. One cup of black-eyed peas contains 89 percent of your RDI of folate. Pregnant women must also consume more iron than the average person because their blood volume increases to support the growing fetus. Since black-eyed peas are a great source of iron, they’re also a perfect food for pregnancy.
Black-eyed peas contain nutrients which are important for eye and skin health. They’re a good source of vitamin A which helps to form and maintain soft tissue, mucous membranes, pigments in the retina, and skin. Vitamin A is found most abundantly in orange vegetables, which is why it’s surprising that a serving of black-eyed peas contains 25 percent of your RDI of this essential nutrient. Just another perk to this wonderful food!
Vegans and vegetarians can delight in this food for its excellent nutrient profile including protein. One cup of black-eyed peas contains 13.3 grams of protein—27 percent of your RDI. This impressive amount makes black-eyed peas a perfect substitute if you’re trying to cut back on animal protein, or if you’d just prefer to have more plant-based foods in your diet.
For the amount of protein, fiber, and micro-nutrients these beans provide, it’s surprising how low they are in calories and fat. Once cup of black-eyed peas contains only 200 calories, and only eight of those calories are from fat. For so few calories, they pack a surprising nutrient punch— making them an incredibly nutrient-dense food. Since they’re high in fiber, they’ll fill you up and keep you full for a long time. These beans are the perfect weight-loss food!
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