Ever thought of adding peas to your smoothie? They might surprise you, says Nutritional Therapist Jackie Lynch. Here’s why we’re going big on these little greens right now

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If you’ve avoided peas as a rather ordinary starchy vegetable, think again, because they’re amazingly nutritious, full of vitamins, iron, fibre, antioxidants and protein.

Peas are actually a member of the legume family along with beans, chickpeas and lentils which explains why they’re one of the few vegetables that are a pretty good source of protein – no surprise that vegan protein powder manufacturers often use pea as a base. Fresh (or frozen) peas go brilliantly in smoothies and add a sweet, crisp flavour that’s a step up from the ‘dead sock’ aftertaste of pea protein powder.

3 great reasons to eat plenty of peas

  • Peas are an excellent source of vitamin K, a much-overlooked nutrient which is vital for our bone health. We need vitamin K to produce osteocalcin which strengthens our bones by hardening the calcium which is used in the bone renewal process.
  • They’re packed with the antioxidantsvitamin C,vitamin E and zinc as well as other protective plant compounds called polyphenols, helping to keep your immune system in great shape, so you’re less likely to come down with niggling colds and infections.
  • Peas also contain a number of nutrients which support heart health: they’re an unexpected source of omega 3 fatty acids which support a healthy vascular system and reduce the risk of blood clots; they’re also rich in B vitamins, which play a crucial part in regulating high levels of homocysteine which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Combined with the naturally anti-inflammatory properties they contain, eating peas regularly could be a great way to be kind to your heart.

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How peas boost energy

As well as being rich in protein, peas are a great source of fibre, which is the ideal combination to maintain stable blood sugar levels, keeping you going for longer and helping you avoid those energy dips which leave you feeling tired and irritable. Peas are also a surprisingly good source of iron.

Healthiest ways to eat peas

  • Instead of boiling peas in a large pan of water, try shallow frying them in three tablespoons of water for about three minutes. The minimal contact with the water and the short cooking time will help to avoid the water-solubleB vitaminsand vitamin C from leaching out of the peas.
  • Adding a handful of peas to a smoothie is a great way to boost protein and fibre levels, which will help to neutralise the impact of the sugar in the fruit and it’s a much more natural protein boost than a commercial powder with all the associated additives
  • Adding fresh peas to a green salad is a great way to enjoy them while they’re in season as they’ll add a natural sweetness to the leaves, making it a far more interesting option.

Jackie Lynch is a Registered Nutritional Therapist and Author of Va Va Voom: the 10-Day Energy Diet  (Headline 14.99).

Visit her website at www.well-well-well.co.uk  or you can follow her on Twitter, Facebook  or Instagram  via @WellWellWellUK.