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Pea Pod Nutrition

By Michele Turcotte, MS, RD

Like most Americans, you are probably familiar with sweet green peas, but pea pods are less commonly consumed. Pea pods are the shells that hold green peas. Snow and snap peas both have edible pods and are a typical ingredient in stir-fries. They are nutritious -- particularly vitamin-rich and low in calories -- and can add flavor and texture to your meals.

Basic Nutrient Values

A 100 gram serving, or about 3/4 cup, of whole snow or sugar snap peas with edible pods, boiled and drained, provides a mere 42 calories, 0 grams of fat, 3 grams of protein, 7 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of sugar and 4 milligrams of sodium. They are cholesterol free. They are an excellent food source of several micronutrients, or those nutrients needed in small quantities, such as vitamins and minerals.

Vitamins

Snow or sugar snap peas, boiled and drained, are an excellent food source of vitamins A, C and K. A 100 grams serving meets 21 percent of the recommended daily value, or DV, for vitamin A, 80 percent for vitamin C and 31 percent for vitamin K. Vitamin A is important for healthy skin and eyesight, immune system function and growth and development. Vitamin C is an antioxidant nutrient that strengthens the immune system. Vitamin C is also necessary for gum health and making collagen. Vitamin K plays a role in the formation of bone and is essential for normal blood clotting.

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Iron

A 100 gram serving of cooked pea pods provides 2 milligrams of iron, meeting 25 percent of the DV for men and 11 percent of the DV for women. Teenaged and adult women of childbearing age require more iron than men. This trace mineral has many functions in the human body. According to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, iron is an important component of many enzymes and proteins essential for maintaining good health. Iron helps transport oxygenated cells throughout your body. Iron deficiency limits oxygen delivery to cells and may result in fatigue and decreased immunity.

Health Benefits

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Dietary Guidelines for Americans, or DGAs, if you are on a 2,000 calorie diet you should consume at least 2 1/2 cups of vegetables daily. The DGAs encourage you to choose from a wide variety of vegetables each day, such as pea pods, for optimum health. In addition, pea pods are low in calories and are a good source of dietary fiber, which may aid in weight management.

Serving Suggestions and Storage

You can eat peapods raw or boiled and flavored with butter or spearmint as a side dish vegetable. Eat them alone or add them to recipes, such as salads and casseroles. Sugar snap peas and the flatter snow peas, may be used in stir-fry recipes. Once picked, pea pods are highly perishable. If you do not use them quickly, they should be dried, canned or frozen within a few hours of harvesting.

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