Split peas belong to the same family as beans and lentils; they are distinguished by their shape and the ways in which they are prepared. Dried peas have a spherical shape and are produced by harvesting and then drying mature pea pods. After peas are dried and the skins are removed, they split on their own. They come in yellow, green and red colors. Green split peas offer many nutritional benefits, including being rich in protein and dietary fiber.
Legumes, such as split green peas, are higher in dietary fiber than any other major food group. In addition, they are a rich source of energy-yielding complex carbohydrates. A 1/2-cup serving of cooked green split peas provides 144 calories, 10 grams of protein, less than 1 gram of fat, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 10 grams of dietary fiber, 2 milligrams of sodium and 0 milligrams cholesterol. Green split peas are particularly high in B vitamins and several minerals essential for human health.
Green split peas are rich in two nutrients you need daily in larger quantities: protein and carbohydrates, meeting about 17 and 7 percent of the recommended daily value or DV for each 100-gram serving, respectively, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. The soybean is the only legume that contains all of the essential amino acids required for human health, however; split peas are still protein-rich and are a particularly good source of the amino acid tryptophan, providing about 93 milligrams, or over 20 percent of your requirement per 100-gram serving. With the help of vitamin B6, trytophan can be converted to vitamin B3 or niacin and aids in the formation of serotonin, a nervous system chemical messenger that helps regulate sleep patterns, mood and appetite, according to Psychology Today.
Green split peas are a source of thiamin, or vitamin B1, providing 0.2 milligrams per 100-gram serving, which is 13 percent of the DV; and 65 micrograms of folate, or 16 percent of the DV. Thiamin, like riboflavin and niacin, aids in energy metabolism or helping convert the foods you eat into usable energy for your cells and supporting healthy immune system function. Folate serves many functions. This vitamin supports cardiovascular health, is needed to form red blood cells and DNA, and enhances the immune system. Women, especially those of child-bearing age, need 400 micrograms daily of folate to prevent spina bifida and related birth defects.
Split peas, like beans and other legumes, contain essential minerals. A 100-gram serving of cooked split peas meets 10 percent of the DV for the major minerals phosphorus and potassium and 20 percent of the DV for the trace mineral manganese. Phosphorus, along with magnesium and calcium, is needed to form strong, healthy bones. This mineral also activates some B vitamins and is a component of all cells and DNA. Potassium regulates heartbeat and may reduce blood pressure, while manganese is involved in energy metabolism and metabolic reactions within the body.
A 100-gram serving of cooked green split peas offers 8 grams of dietary fiber, about 30 percent of your daily requirement. Beans and legumes contain a mixture of the two types of dietary fiber, insoluble and soluble. Many foods are rich in insoluble fiber but fewer are good sources of soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber promotes regular bowel movements and promotes healthy digestion. Soluble fiber offers other health benefits, aiding in weight management by keeping you feeling fuller longer, helping stabilize blood sugar levels and decreasing blood cholesterol levels, according to the Colorado State University Extension.
- LegumeChef.com: Spanish Association of Dieticians - Nutritionistsrel="nofollow"
- Nutrition Value: Peas, Split, Mature Seeds, Cooked, Boiled, with Saltrel="nofollow"
- Colorado State University Extension: Dietary Fiberrel="nofollow"
- McKinley Health Center: Macronutrientsrel="nofollow"
- Psychology Today: What Does Tryptophan Do?rel="nofollow"
- Australian Government: Department of Health and Aging: Vitamin and Mineral Functionsrel="nofollow"
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.