Split Peas Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

bowl of dried green split peas

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Split peas are often confused with lentils. While they both belong to the family of legumes, split peas are different from lentils. Like the name suggests, split peas are field peas. They are grown specifically for drying, whereas lentils are harvested as seeds and then dried. Once the peas are dried, the outer skin is removed and they are split in half.

There are two main types of split peas: green and yellow. Both are nutritious and hearty, but they differ in flavor. Green split peas are more sweet, and yellow peas are more mild. Yellow split peas are also more starchy.

Split Peas Nutrition Facts

Split peas nutrition facts may vary depending on how they are prepared and the serving size. The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of cooked split peas.

  • Calories: 118
  • Fat: 0.39g
  • Sodium: 2mg
  • Carbohydrates: 21.1g
  • Fiber: 8.3g
  • Sugars: 2.9g
  • Protein: 8.3g

Carbs

A 3.5-ounce serving of cooked split peas contains 21.1g of carbohydrates. Only 2.9g of the total carb content is made up of sugars. The carb content also contains 8.3g of fiber. Foods rich in complex carbohydrates like split peas provide the body with sustained energy levels. Peas, lentils, and other legumes are all examples of complex carbohydrates, which tend to be rich sources of energy-boosting starch.

Split peas are considered a low-glycemic food with a glycemic load of about 10. Since the glycemic load of a specific food helps predict how it will affect your blood sugar levels, people living with diabetes may find this helpful.

Fats

With just 0.39g per serving, split peas are a low-fat food. They are not a significant source of healthy fats or essential fatty acids. However, split splits are naturally free of cholesterol which may benefit those following a low-cholesterol diet.

Protein

Cooked split peas contain approximately 8.3g of protein per serving. The 2020-2025 USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend between 46 and 56 grams per day for adults, so a serving of split peas can provide between 14 and 18 percent of your daily protein requirements. They are also a source of plant-based protein suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Vitamins and Minerals

Most legumes are a rich source of vitamins and minerals, and split peas are no exception. A 3.5-ounce serving provides 1 milligram of zinc, 36 milligrams of magnesium, 262 milligrams of potassium, and 1.29 milligrams of iron.

Calories

Each 3.5-ounce serving of cooked split peas contains 118 calories. The 2020-2025 USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend between 1,600 and 2,400 calories per day for adults, depending on sex and age.

Health Benefits

May Help Lower Blood Pressure

Legumes like split peas, lentils, and beans are associated with heart health benefits such as reduced levels of cholesterol. While there is ample evidence that beans can help lower cholesterol levels, there is an absence of studies using dried peas.

In a randomized clinical trial published in FASEB Journal, researchers found that dried peas lowered systolic blood pressure. Researchers concluded that consuming a mixture of pulses regularly could be an effective food-based approach to reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Lowered Risk of Certain Cancers

Regularly consuming fiber-rich foods like split peas is associated with many health benefits, including reduced risk of certain cancers. The American Institute of Cancer Research aggregated the existing scientific data and concluded there is probably evidence that dietary fiber can help decrease the risk of colorectal cancer specifically. Dietary fiber found in split peas can also help with weight management, which can also contribute to a lowered risk of various cancers.

Weight Management

Some research suggests that pulses like split peas have an effect on satiety and weight management. However, more research is needed to confirm the findings.

Reduce Inflammation

Yellow split peas have been found to possess anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and immunomodulating properties. Reducing inflammation via diet may contribute to a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Allergies

People with allergies to peas or legumes may experience dietary allergies to split peas. People who are allergic to peanuts may also have an allergy to split peas.

How to Prepare

Split peas cook faster than other legumes, and they do not need to be soaked prior to cooking. However, you may soak them if you prefer. You should always rinse your legumes, including split peas. This washes away any dirt and debris before preparing them.

To cook split peas, you simply need dried split peas, water, and any spices or seasonings. In general, split peas require a 1:2 ratio of liquid, so use twice the amount of water or both as you do dried peas. You can cook them on the stovetop, pressure cooker, or slow cooker. 

To cook on the stovetop, place the split peas and water in a pot. Bring to a boil and then let simmer (about 25 minutes) until the peas are thoroughly cooked through. Use the peas to make soup, stew, or dal.

Recipes

Healthy Split Pea Recipes to Try

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Article Sources
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  2. USDA. 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Published December 2020.

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  4. Bell RC, Zahradka P, Aliani M, et al. Dried beans lower cholesterol and glycated hemoglobin while peas lower blood pressure in adults with mild hypercholesterolemia. The FASEB Journal. 2017;31(S1):966.13-966.13. doi:10.1096/fasebj.31.1_supplement.966.13

  5. American Institute for Cancer Research. Pulses: dry beans, peas, and lentils(Legumes). Updated April 1, 2021.

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