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Preparation, uses, and tips

Fresh peas should be used immediately and are best when barely steamed or eaten raw. They can be enjoyed on their own, or added to salads or stir-fried dishes at the last minute. Snow peas have flavorful, tender pods that are frequently used in preparing Asian dishes. Dried peas, both whole and split, are delicious used in soups and stews. Before cooking, soak whole dried peas for four to six hours, then pressure cook for ten minutes, use a crockpot, or cook on the stovetop for an hour. French “petits pois” are simply young peas, not another variety. Split peas are often used in Indian dishes, such as dhal. Uncooked, soaked split peas can be ground and steamed to make a cakelike vegetable loaf.

Buying and storing tips

Peas are sold fresh in the pod, dried (either whole or split), frozen, and canned. Canned peas are a duller green because their chlorophyll is destroyed by the heat of the canning process. Both fresh and frozen peas are superior to canned for nutrition and flavor. Look for fresh stems when buying fresh peas, which will only keep for a few days refrigerated and should not be left at room temperature. Store dried peas in airtight glass or ceramic jars.


Among the more than 1,000 varieties of garden pea, the most common are smooth peas, the type generally sold frozen, and the wrinkled variety, which is generally canned. Other varieties include the sugar snap pea and snow pea, both of which have edible pods. Beyond the garden pea varieties are the gray or field pea, primarily used as fodder crop, and the wild Mediterranean pea sometimes called the oasis or maquis pea. Dried peas are available whole or split, and are either green or yellow.

Nutrition Highlights

Peas (raw), 1 cup
Calories: 117
Protein: 7.8g
Carbohydrate: 21g
Total Fat: 0.58g
Fiber: 7.4g
*Excellent source of: Folate (94mcg), Vitamin A (928 IU), and Vitamin C (58mg)
*Good source of: Zinc (1.8mg)

*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the Recommended Daily Value.

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