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Peas


Origins and Culture

The modern-day garden pea is thought to have originated from the field pea that was native to central Asia and the Middle East. Because its cultivation dates back thousands and thousands of years, the green pea is widely recognized as one of the first food crops to be cultivated by humans. Peas were apparently consumed in dry form throughout much of their early history, and did not become widely popular as a fresh food until changes in cultivation techniques that took place in Europe in the 16th century. Peas are now grown throughout the world in nearly every climatic zone.

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Nutritional and Medicinal Properties

While not always recognized as a food unique in phytonutrients, green peas are actually an outstanding phytonutrient source. Flavanols (including catechin and epicatechin), phenolic acids (including caffeic and ferulic acid), and carotenoids (including alpha- and beta-carotene) are among the phytonutrients provided by green peas. Even more unique to this food are its saponins, pisumsaponins I and II and pisomosides A and B. The polyphenol coumestrol is also provided in substantial amounts by this phytonutrient-rich food. Green peas are a very good source of immune-supportive vitamin C; bone-building vitamin K and manganese; heart-healthy dietary fiber and folate; and energy-producing thiamin (vitamin B1). They are also a good source of immune-supportive vitamin A and zinc; energy-producing phosphorus, niacin, and riboflavin (vitamin B2); heart-healthy vitamin B6 and potassium; bone-healthy copper and magnesium; and muscle-building zinc.

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Basic Cooking Instructions

Before you remove the peas from the pod, rinse them briefly under running water. To easily shell them, snap off the top and bottom of the pod and then gently pull off the "thread" that lines the seam of most peapods. For those that do not have "threads," carefully cut through the seam, making sure not to cut into the peas. Gently open the pods to remove the seeds, which do not need to be washed since they have been encased in the pod.

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