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Are Peas & Corn Good Carbs?

By Jill Corleone, RDN, LD

With the popularity of low-carbohydrate diets like Atkins and the South Beach Diet, you may think that carbohydrates are bad for you and eating too many will make you fat. Carbohydrates are not bad for you, and in fact are your body's preferred source of energy. But some carbs make better choices than others. Peas and corn, with their high fiber, vitamin and mineral content, make healthy carb choices.

Low-Glycemic Carbohydrates

The glycemic index ranks foods on how it effects blood sugar. Foods with a low glycemic index -- rolled oats, starchy vegetables and whole-grain bread -- digest very slowly and cause a low rise in blood sugar, while foods with a high glycemic index -- white rice, french fries and doughnuts -- digest quickly and cause a rapid increase in blood sugar. Eating too many high-glycemic-index foods may increase your risk of diabetes. Both peas and corn have a low glycemic index ranking, making them a good choice for a consistent and steady release of energy.

Good Source of Fiber

Fiber in food is a type of carbohydrate your body cannot digest. Including more fiber in your diet helps you feel full longer and aids in appetite control and weight management. Fiber in food also helps improve bowel movements and digestion. It can also lower blood-cholesterol levels and help diabetics gain better control over their blood sugar. A 1-cup serving of cooked peas contains 8.8 g of fiber, and a 1 cup serving of cooked corn contains 4.2 g of fiber. The amount of fiber you need to eat each day depends on your sex and age. Most healthy women need about 21 to 25 g of fiber a day, and healthy men need 30 to 38 g of fiber a day.

Good Source of Protein

Your body uses the protein in the food you eat to make the proteins found in your muscles, tissues and cells. A 1-cup serving of cooked peas contains 8.5 g of protein, and a 1-cup serving of cooked corn contains 5.2 g of protein. While most Americans focus their attention on meat and poultry as their primary sources of protein, the USDA recommends you vary your sources of protein to vary your nutrient intake.

High in Potassium

Increasing your intake of potassium can help lower your blood pressure by blunting the effects of sodium. Most Americans should aim for 4,700 mg of potassium a day. A 1-cup serving of peas contains 434 mg of potassium, and a 1-cup serving of corn contains 396 mg of potassium.

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