Peas (Pisum sativum) are members of the Fabaceae (Pea) Family, making them relatives of beans and peanuts. The genus name, Pisum is from the ancient Greek and Latin word for this vegetable. Sativum, the species name, means “with a long history of cultivation.” Peas are believed native to Eurasia.
Peas are considered alkaline, neutral in temperature, moistening and sweet. They are tonifying to the liver, spleen, pancreas, and stomach. They may help reduce the risk of heart disease, stabilize blood sugar levels and help strengthen the stomach. Peas have been used to relieve anemia, boils, and high cholesterol, constipation, coughs, diabetes, hypoglycemia, edema, hiccoughs, spasms, and ulcer pain. In German folk medicine, pea soup is considered an excellent tonic for pregnant women and growing children, nourishing for growing bones.
Peas have been investigated for their potential as a contraceptive agent, for both men and women, due to their content of an anti-fertility substance called m-mylohydroquinone. Peas also contain protease inhibitors and isoflavones, which inhibit the activation of carcinogens. They are anti-inflammatory, galactagogue (increase nursing mother’s milk), and laxative. They contain protein, fiber, chlorophyll, carbohydrates, beta-carotene, B complex, C, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. If peas are consumed in excess, they can have thyroid inhibiting factors. They also contain purines, which can aggravate gout in those prone to the disorder.
Look for crisp fresh pea with shiny pods that squeak when rubbed together, as their sugar content quickly, becomes starchier. They can be eaten in the pod, if young and tender. Fresh peas are easier to digest than dried ones. They can be enjoyed as a snack, added to salads, pates, casseroles, juice or soups.
“All we are saying is give peas a chance”.