Can you eat raw peas?
This article answers the question, “Can you eat raw peas?” and discusses the benefits of eating some types of peas, the drawbacks related to eating peas raw and what happens when you cook peas.
Can you eat raw peas?
Yes, raw peas are edible, but not all types of peas are safe to eat raw in large quantities, as they are harmful to your health. Peas are high in vitamins and minerals; however, they also contain anti-nutrients, which can cause harmful effects on health (1,2).
The best way to consume peas is to eat them cooked. Raw peas are not harmful, although they can cause intestinal problems.
However some types of peas, such as sugar snap peas and snow peas may be eaten raw (1).
What are the risks of eating raw peas?
The risks of eating raw peas are (1,2,3,4,5):
- Flatulence: peas, especially when eaten raw, contain oligosaccharides, such as raffinose and stachyose, which improve the gas production in the intestines, leading to bloating and gastrointestinal discomfort
- Impaired iron absorption: anti-nutrients in raw peas, including trypsin inhibitors, reduce the absorption of iron, possibly causing malnutritional
- Gastrointestinal disorders: lectins in raw peas cannot be digested. As a result, they bind into the intestinal mucosa, causing damage to the tissues
- Poor sensory quality: raw peas, in addition to be hard to eat, have an unpleasant taste, and are not appreciated by most of people
- Foodborne illness: the consumption of raw peas increases the risks of foodborne illnesses. Food outbreaks caused by Shigella and Escherichia coli were reported in several countries related to the consumption of raw sugar peas
What are the peas that can be eaten raw?
The peas that can be eaten raw are “shell” peas. They have a snapped pod and are eaten before the seeds develop into peas. The examples are green peas and sugar snap peas (1,2,5).
The nutritional profiles of an 100 calorie portion of green and snap peas are (2,6):
|Nutrient||unit||Green Peas||Snap Peas|
What are the benefits of eating sweet / snap peas raw?
The benefits of eating sweet peas / sugar snap peas raw are the higher amounts of certain nutrients in raw peas when compared to the cooked form (1,2):
Raw sweet peas and snap peas are sources of vitamin C and polyphenols. Processings, such as cooking, reduce the amount of these nutrients. Polyphenols and vitamin C are related to the prevention of diseases, including diabetes and some types of cancer, due to the improved antioxidant properties (4).
The amount of vitamin B is also reduced after cooking, as well as minerals. In addition, the crunchiness of the peas is reduced. In this way, it is recommended to cook the snap peas for a very short time to avoid great losses. Microwave cooking has been shown to be a good alternative to better retain the nutrients in green / sweet peas (1).
What happens when peas are cooked?
When peas are cooked, the anti-nutrients are significantly reduced, and the nutrients contained in the peas can be better accessed. As a result, cooking can improve the nutritional properties of peas and other legumes.
On the other hand, cooking reduces some of the nutrients, especially vitamin C and polyphenols.
Other processes in addition to cooking, such as soaking and fermenting can also improve the digestibility of peas, as they partially destroy the phytates, lectins and trypsin inhibitors in peas, as well as the oligosaccharides.
As a result, the harmful effects of consuming raw peas, which were discussed previously in this article, are minimized. However, it has been reported that phytate, an anti-nutrients of peas that reduces the absorption of calcium, cannot be destroyed by heat. Alternatively, soaking and fermentation may reduce the amount of phytates in beans and legumes (4).
This article answered the question, “Can you eat raw peas?” and discussed the benefits of eating some types of peas, the drawbacks related to eating peas raw and what happens when you cook peas.
- Del Socorro López Cortez, Ma, et al. Antioxidants properties and effect of processing methods on bioactive compounds of legumes. Grain legumes. London, UK: IntechOpen Ltd, 2016, 103-26.
- Didinger, Chelsea, and Henry J. Thompson. Defining Nutritional and Functional Niches of Legumes: A Call for Clarity to Distinguish a Future Role for Pulses in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Nutr, 2021, 13.
- Wang, Ning, James K. Daun, and Linda J. Malcolmson. Relationship between physicochemical and cooking properties, and effects of cooking on antinutrients, of yellow field peas (Pisum sativum). J Sci Food Agric, 2003, 83, 1228-1237.
- Messina, Virginia. Nutritional and health benefits of dried beans. Am j clin nutr, 2014, 100, 437S-442S.
- Muller, L., et al. Imported fresh sugar peas as suspected source of an outbreak of Shigella sonnei in Denmark, April–May 2009. Eurosurveillance, 2009, 14, 24.
- Food data central. Sugar snap peas.