It was from the peas that G. Mendel began long and thorough studies of hybridization and transmission of characters, then formulating the known laws of genetics, still accepted and completely accredited by the world of science. The importance of peas is not limited to genetics: these legumes have triumphed in the Italian tables, not only for their delicate flavor and sweet, but also for the proper nutritional intake and therapeutic properties (especially for pea protein) . In this article we will give a general description of the peas, deepening in the botany, nutrition and phytotherapy way.
Peas, like most legumes, have their roots in the Neolithic age ( 7000 BC ). It is believed that the pea is native in India, despite the hypothesis is not yet fully accredited.
Currently the plant of the pea is widely cultivated in Asia and in the Mediterranean countries. The peas are grown primarily for human food, but are also widely used as forage from herbarium.
In botany, plant peas is known since the middle of the eighteenth century as Pisum sativum, whose nomenclature comes from Carl von Linne, the famous Swedish naturalist who was responsible for the current scientific classification of living organisms.
Them belong to the pea family Fabaceae (also called Leguminosae or Papilionaceae), the same as beans, lentils, broad beans, lupins, etc., All toghether for the presence of the pod.
The pea plant is herbaceous, glabra and annual: has a single stem, thin and fragile, ranging in length from 30 cm to 3 meters; depending on the size and morphology of the plant, are distinguished dwarf, vines and semi climbing peas.
The pods contain a variable number of seeds, which in turn differ in color, shape and size; most of the peas for food consumption presents a round shape but, when the seeds are strongly tightened inside the fruit, may be cuboidal.
The peas are differentiated mainly by shape: in this regard, they may be smooth or wrinkled owing to the different composition in terms of carbohydrates. The variety of peas that is smooth because it consists mainly of starch, while those wrinkled are rich in soluble sugars and starch: these are sweetest and remain tender during maturation.
Peas in nature
There are many species of peas, some very cultivated and appreciated for human nutrition. In some peas you eat also the pod (the so-called snap peas or snow peas), within which the seeds are still embryonic.
Preservation of peas
The peas are available fresh in the months of May and June; are also sold frozen, dried and canned, clearly more easy to find.
As for all vegetables, it is best to be eaten fresh , because the more tasty and nutritious.
The dried peas require a period of soaking before being cooked, frozen ones require the same cooking mode than the fresh ones and have a flavor almost identical, while those in the box are already ready for consumption.
- water: what distinguishes the peas from other legumes is the generous amount of water: in fact their water content is variable from 72 to 80%.
- pea protein: also the amount of proteins and carbohydrates is not very high if compared to other legumes: in fact peas contain, respectively, about 5.5 and 6.5%.
- pea lipids: analogously for the lipids, which does not certainly abound in peas (only 0.6%): strictly speaking this, these pulses are among the low-calorie food (52Kcal / 100 g of peas).
- pea fiber: In terms of fiber, peas will provide a modest amount (6.3%).
Somehow, even the peas are among the herbal remedies: the fiber contained stimulate intestinal motility and are, therefore, a good remedy against constipation. Still, the peas have diuretic, tonic and energy, albeit rather bland. Preparing a broth with pods, you get a liquid pretty tasty and rich in mineral salts: in this regard, the peas have also re-mineralizing. It also seems that the consumption of peas and legumes in general is a help to lower the level of cholesterol in the blood.
Even the peas have some drawbacks: they are a source of purine, therefore are not recommended for hyperuricaemic and for sufferers of gout.In general, it is recommended the consumption of raw peas because these vegetables contain anti digestive factors, destroyed during cooking. Advised against the consumption of raw peas → presence of anti digestive factors destroyed during cooking