What’s the first thing that comes into your mind when you heard the word, “peas”?
For some people, the most interesting thing that they remember about peas is in one scene of Cartoon Network’s animated series, The Powerpuff Girls. In this early episode, Supper Villain shown in 1999, the new next-door neighbors are invited to the girls’ for dinner. The neighbor, Harold, then orders, “Eat your pea, Professor!” in what now is one of the most famous –and funniest scenes of The Powerpuff Girls.
It is a memorable scene because The Professor, a grown man, tried in an excruciating way to eat and swallow one small pea.
A lack of information makes peas much maligned and there is much to clear about them. Like The Professor, there are people who find it difficult to eat their vegetables. But unknown to many, peas (and lentils) are two of the healthiest foods on the planet. They may be small in size, but they are a powerhouse when it comes to diet and nutrition.
Dried peas, lentils, and chickpeas are called ‘pulses’. These are their seeds and members of the legume family that are packed with protein, fiber, anti-oxidants, calcium, and iron. According to the US Dry Pea and Lentil Council of the USDA, pulses are everything on one plate: they deliver great flavor that’s not only nutrient-dense, but also gluten-free with low allergen and low glycemic responses. They are one of the greatest additions to any diet, but especially for those who are diabetic, those who have heart problems, and those who are trying to lose weight.
Legumes use nitrogen from the atmosphere to make protein. They are a valuable equivalent to animal protein but have the added benefit of being low in fat and less in calories. In comparison, a 6 oz. cut of steak provides 40 g of protein, but also 38 g of fat (14 g saturated fat) while a cup of cooked lentils gives 18 g of protein and only 1 g of fat.
This is not surprising, considering lentils are the third-highest sources of protein, by weight, of any legume or nut (next only to soybeans and hemp).
Protein is an important cell builder of the body. It is crucial in building muscle and tissue, the parts of your body you need to move and lead an active lifestyle. When choosing sources of protein, it is essential to select lean, nutrient-dense food like beans, nuts, and whole grains. Dried peas and lentils are available everywhere, any time of the year, and so offer one of the most inexpensive sources of protein.
Fiber is important because it helps clean out one’s digestive system. Along with an adequate intake of liquids, fiber flushes out unwanted toxins from the body. Soluble or dietary fiber reduces the risk of developing many diseases and conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and constipation. And because fiber-rich foods fill one up quickly, there are less calories consumed.
Fiber is found mainly in legumes, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The more you eat, and the more active you are, the more you need fiber. Here are the recommendations for adults of the Institute of Medicine regarding daily fiber intake:
Age 50 or younger
Age 51 or older
Institute of Medicine, 2012
Peas and lentils provide one of the highest amounts of fiber. A cup of cooked split peas gives 16.3 g of fiber, while a cup of cooked lentils has 15.6 g of fiber. To compare, the traditional source of fiber, cooked oatmeal, contains 4 g of fiber.
Peas and lentils like beans and other legumes are rich in phytochemicals. These antioxidants help in defending the body against the effects of free radicals, and slow down aging and breakdown of body processes. Studies show that a diet high in antioxidants from fruits and vegetables is linked to a reduced risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
These are just a few of the health benefits from consuming peas and lentils. Considering how small they are, it is easy to dismiss them as a good source of nutrients but studies from all over the world show that peas and lentils are two of the healthiest foods one can eat.
In the Philippines, Easycook brand of US No. 1 grade peas, lentils, and beans are the highest grade. These are best in quality – they have bright uniform color, uniform size (for even cooking), and have no visible defects like cracked seed coats and foreign materials. In other words, the more uniform the color and size, the higher their grade will be. They meet specifications and standards set by the USDA for both growers and consumers, and for local and international consumption, and these US No. 1 grade peas and lentils are the only ones provided by Easycook.
Easycook peas, lentils, and beans are what Filipinos need for a fit and healthy lifestyle as they are rich in protein, fiber, antioxidants, folate (iron), and calcium. Easycook variants include yellow and green split peas, lentils, great Northern beans, pinto beans, and light red kidney beans and are available in leading supermarkets like SM, Robinson’s, Shopwise, Rustan’s, and Metro Gaisano.
On December 21, 2013, recipes creatively using peas and lentils were demonstrated by Filipino master chef Ojie Reloj at a media event. Chef Ojie is an architect by trade so he knows to meld function and beauty while emphasizing the importance of using local resources, which he also does in his cooking. Some of the recipes he loves include Lentils a la Mongo (prepared the same way as mongo, using lentils as a healthy mongo replacement), Lentils or yellow split peas empanaditas, and Lentils and Pesto Macaroni Soup.
Because of their high nutrient content, peas and lentils are recommended for everyone. They are the smart alternatives for a healthier, beneficial life. This is one of the best health advices: eat your peas, love your lentils!
Easycook peas, lentils, and beans are distributed in the Philippines by Ideal Macaroni and Spaghetti Factory Inc. For more information, please go to their website http://www.idealmacaroni.com