Sugar snap peas are members of the legume family, and can be eaten raw or steamed on low heat.
Nutritionists say these kinds of peas are good because of their high content of Vitamin C and other nutrients.
Dieudonne Bukaba, the nutrition programme coordinator at Africa Humanitarian Action (AHA) Rwanda, explains that Vitamin C is water soluble, antioxidant vitamin that speeds up the healing of wounds, boosts immunity and also aids in the production of collagen, making them a great option to include in one’s diet.
Because they are a source of Vitamin C, he says when consumed, they help protect DNA structures from damage and improve the immune system.
Everyone needs Vitamin C to repair tissue. It is also an antioxidant that protects the cells from damage by free radicals.
“Just like other kinds of peas, beans and leafy vegetables, sugar snap peas are rich in Vitamin K which is essential for the wellbeing of the body. And for this reason, making them part of your daily diet is essential,” he says.
Provides essential vitamins
Apart from vitamins, sugar snap peas contain other nutrients which are capable of improving the health of the heart and bones.
“They are a source of Vitamin K, which activates osteocalcin and helps keep calcium in bones. They also contain Vitamin B6 that improves bone health by reducing the buildup of molecules that cause osteoporosis,” he says.
Joseph Uwiragiye, head of nutrition department at University Teaching Hospital (CHUK), says folate is also found in sugar snap peas, which helps to improve heart health.
He explains that folate is a B vitamin that helps make new cells. When there is a low level of folate in the body (blood), it can raise levels of homocysteine, which increases the risk of heart disease.
“Women who are pregnant, or may become pregnant, need adequate amounts of folate to prevent spinal cord defects in their babies. Besides, potassium found in these peas is a mineral needed for building proteins and muscle, and it also helps control the acid-base balance in the body,” he says.
Uwiragiye notes that these peas also contain iron, a mineral necessary for normal blood cell formation, whereby adequate intake of iron helps to prevent conditions such as anemia and fatigue.
When it comes to protecting the body against the growth of cancer cells, he says opting for these peas is ideal as they are also a source of beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant that helps protect against cancer.
Bukaba observes that many times, people always have a problem when it comes to how many calories they should take in, especially those who want to control or lose weight.
Here, he says, turning to sugar snap peas is essential because when consumed, they make one fill up easily. In fact, they make one fill up easily without taking in too many calories, as they contain few.
When it comes to feeling full, the volume of food matters more than calorie content. Additionally, the protein in sugar snap peas is used to promote immune health and make hormones and enzymes,” Bukaba says.
“The body also uses fat in food as a source of energy. Fat is needed to help maintain cell membranes and assist with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins including Vitamin C, folate and potassium,” he says.
Private Kamanzi, a nutritionist at Amazon Complimentary Therapy in Remera, says sugar snap peas also help you meet some of your vitamin and mineral needs.
“Vitamin C is best known for its antioxidant benefits, which helps reverse and prevent cell damage caused by toxins called free radicals. But it’s also important for making collagen, which means the Vitamin C in the peas also benefits your skin, bones, cartilage and hair,” Kamanzi says.
He points out that this green legume is loaded with vitamin A, B-1, B-6, C, which are known for maintaining bone health.
Kamanzi says peas are high in fibre and low in fat and contain no cholesterol as they’re also a good source of vegetable protein.
“Most veggies offer at least some Vitamin C, but sugar snap peas are an especially great source of this vitamin, which is needed for the body,” he adds.
Kamanzi notes that Vitamin A is another antioxidant vitamin, which is known for its ability to promote good eyesight and keep the connective tissue strong.
Sugar snap peas have a moderate amount of multiple B vitamins. These help break down protein, carbohydrates and fat into energy, and they also aid nerve function and promote red blood cell production, says Kamanzi.