Can you eat sweet peas raw?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat sweet peas raw?” and discuss “can you consume frozen peas?

Can you eat sweet peas raw?

Yes, you can eat sweet peas raw. Sugar snap peas, snow peas, and garden peas are the most common varieties of this legume crop. 

Snow peas are harvested before the peas develop. When the peas “shell,” they can be eaten raw or cooked (2). Raw peas are safe to consume, however, when eaten in large quantities, they may be harmful to health. 

What are the risks of eating raw sweet peas?

The risks of eating raw sugar snap peas are of gastrointestinal discomfort, due to the presence of some anti-nutrients in the vegetable. Antinutrients, such as oxalate and lectins, are present in raw foods (4). 

Although green peas contain a decreased amount of anti-nutrients, they may still cause negative issues. Consuming an excessive amount of raw peas may result in nausea, vomiting, or bloating, due to the presence of lectins. 

Symptoms of acute toxicity with lectins include severe stomach ache, vomiting and diarrhea. Lectins reduce the bioavailability of nutrients, which is due to direct action of lectin on digestive enzymes (5).

In addition, the consumption of uncooked sugar snap peas in excess may be negative, as they reduce the absorption of some minerals, such as iron, and decrease the digestibility of proteins.

To prevent these negative effects, you should cook sweet peas. Studies showed that soaking and cooking beans significantly reduced the activity of lectins and boiling at 95°C for 1 hour eliminated ~97% of the activity of lectins in peas.

In addition, raw vegetables are generally contaminated with microorganisms, including pathogenic bacteria, which can cause food poisoning. Raw vegetables are at a high risk of microbial contamination due to the various conditions they are exposed to throughout their growth, harvest, processing, and distribution (3).

What are the health benefits of raw peas?

The benefits of eating raw sugar snap peas are their nutrients. Sweet peas and sugar snap peas contain vitamin C and E, minerals, such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and fibers (7).

Peas are also high in vitamins A and B, folate, and choline which may aid in the management of diseases. Peas also assist to decrease inflammation in the body and contain other health-promoting compounds, such as polyphenols with antioxidant properties (7).

Peas provide dietary fibers, which are an important ingredient that aids in food digestion. Furthermore, the fiber in raw sugar snap peas keeps you fuller for longer, helping you maintain a healthy weight and lowering your risk of lifestyle diseases like obesity and high blood pressure (7). 

Fiber also aids in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Pulses eaten as whole foods may promote gut health and mitigate obesity when they replace other more caloric foods or lipid-rich legumes, and pulse consumption has been associated with a myriad of health benefits.

Vitamin C is effective in protecting against oxidative damage in tissues, thus preventing cancer and is essential for the proper function of the immune system (9). 

What is the best method to cook sugar snap peas? 

The best method to cook sugar snap peas in order to maintain their nutrients is, according to studies, microwaving. While boiling was reported to better preserve the amount in folates, vitamin C was lost. 

Most of the thermal processes applied to vegetables can reduce the amounts of soluble vitamins in sugar snap peas significantly, especially vitamin C and folates (8).

Microwaving did not cause severe losses on the folate concentrations of sugar snap peas and can be applied with no addition of water. Microwave cooking causes overall no significant nutrient loss, and was able to reduce the anti-nutrients in the legume.

To preserve the water soluble vitamin C, it is important to cook peas with the smallest amount of water possible in order to conserve most of the nutrients (2).

How to safely eat sugar snap peas raw?

To eat sugar snap peas raw safely, you should wash and sanitize them carefully. 

As mentioned earlier in this article, raw vegetables signifies a risk of food poisoning, as they can be contaminated with pathogenic microorganisms. 

Therefore, good hygiene practices are recommended, controlled storage temperatures and proper handling and cleaning of utensils and cooking surfaces are to be followed to minimize contaminations.

Is it safe to consume defrosted raw peas?

Raw frozen peas are not safe for consumption. When vegetables are frozen, microorganisms are not eliminated, a few microorganisms grow below −10°C (during the freezing process) and may grow rapidly after defrosting (8). Therefore, it is necessary to cook or blanch frozen peas after defreezing. 

In a study, many microorganisms were isolated including those responsible for spoilage in frozen vegetables, namely Pseudomonas, Klebsiella, Corynebacterium, lactic acid bacteria, and Flavobacterium. 

The predominant lactic acid bacteria were Lactobacillus spp. Other spoilage organisms were yeasts. Pathogens, namely Listeria monocytogenes, were also isolated at a rate of 2% from frozen peas (3).

The ingestion of contaminated vegetables can lead to food poisoning. The symptoms of food poisoning are nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping and others.

Other FAQs about Peas that you may be interested in.

Can you eat chickpeas raw?

Can you eat frozen peas?

How To Preserve Green Peas

Conclusion

In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat sweet peas raw?” and we discussed can you consume frozen peas?

Reference

  1. Śmiglak-Krajewska, Magdalena, Julia Wojciechowska-Solis, and Domenico Viti. Consumers’ purchasing intentions on the legume market as evidence of sustainable behaviour. Agriculture, 2020, 10, 424.
  2. 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  
  3. Manani, Tinna A., Ernest K. Collison, and Sisai Mpuchane. Microflora of minimally processed frozen vegetables sold in Gaborone, Botswana. J food protec, 2006, 69, 2581-2586.  
  4. Messina, Mark. Understanding pulse anti-nutrients. INFORM Magazine. https://www. aocs. org/stay-informed/inform-magazine/featured-articles/understanding-pulse-anti-nutrientsjanuary-2020. 2020.
  5. Sinha, Kavita, and Vikrant Khare. Review on: Antinutritional factors in vegetable crops. Pharma Innov J, 2017, 6, 353-358.   
  6. Catassi, Giulia, et al. The low FODMAP diet: many question marks for a catchy acronym. Nutrients, 2017, 9, 292.
  7. 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.
  8. De Ancos, Begóna, et al. Fruit freezing principles. Handbook of fruits and fruit processing 2006.
  9. Walingo, K. M. Role of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) on human health-a review. Afr J Food Agric Nutr Develop, 2005, 5, 1.

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