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Are Peas Paleo?

Louise Hendon | September 10
Are Peas Paleo?

When I first switched to a Paleo diet, I was often confused about which foods were or weren’t Paleo.

After just a few weeks, though, I felt pretty comfortable judging foods without going back to a book or website.

However, there are certain foods that confused me for a long time, and one of those foods was peas.

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After all, peas are a legume, and legumes like beans are off-limits on a Paleo diet, right? (See this article for why legumes are not Paleo).

However, I was right to be confused, since there’s a lot more to this story…

Video On Are Peas Paleo?

If you prefer watching videos, then watch the video below about this question. Otherwise, feel free to keep on reading.

Are Peas Paleo?

Yes, in small amounts.

And here’s why peas are generally Paleo even though they’re legumes.

Why Peas Are Paleo Even Though They Are Legumes

The main reasons why beans aren’t paleo are the following:

  • Legumes are generally high in phytates, which prevents our bodies from absorbing many of the minerals in the beans.
  • Legumes are also fairly high in lectins, which can cause, or at least exacerbate leaky gut and other digestive issues, especially if beans are not prepared properly (soaked).
  • Legumes are generally high in carbs, which is an issue if you’re dealing with insulin resistance.

However, these issues tend to be less problematic in peas:

  1. Peas Have Fewer Phytates Than Other Legumes. Mark Sisson has dug up some research showing that peas have around 384mg/100g of phytates, which decreases to just 158mg when cooked. Compare this with 2200mg in wild rice or 600+ mg in kidney beans.
  2. The lectins in peas aren’t as toxic or as prevalent as lectins in other legumes. According to Dr Cordain, Peas contain lower levels of lectins, and the lectins they do contain have a lower affinity for binding to your intestinal walls, meaning they don’t cause as many digestive issues. (Although there is still some potential.)
  3. Peas are nutritious. Peas contain a good amount of protein and good amounts of various vitamins and minerals.
  4. Peas are consumed fresh (not dried), and the pods are picked before they ripen. This is another reason why peas have lower phytates and lectins than other legumes. (This reason is closely related to reasons 1 and 2, but I felt that it deserved separate mention.)

What Do Other Paleo Experts Say – Are Peas Paleo?

There is some disagreement between the experts, but they do all agree that peas aren’t as bad as other legumes.

Dallas and Melissa Hartwig say: “Snow peas (and snap peas, and green beans, and romano beans) are fine during your Whole30 – even though they’re botanically legumes.”

Mark Sisson says: “green beans and peas are also quite benign.”

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Loren Cordain doesn’t recommend consuming peas because they are legumes and “legumes generally contain high concentrations of a variety of antinutrients with the potential to interact with and disrupt normal physiological function,” but he does agree that peas are ‘better’ than most other legumes.

Green Beans Are Paleo For the Same Reasons

If you love green beans, then keep eating them, because they’re also Paleo for the same above reasons (in fact green beans have even less phytates than peas). If you want to read more about green beans (along with some Paleo recipes involving green beans), then check out this article.

Paleo Recipes With Peas

1. Spring Pea Pesto with Spaghetti Squash
2. Chinese Cauliflower Fried Rice
3. Ham and Pea Soup
4. Indian Ground Lamb Curry
5. Indian Cauliflower Mash
6. Petit Pois ala Francaise

Do you enjoy peas?

What are your thoughts on peas? Are peas Paleo? Do you enjoy eating peas?

Images: Copyright (c) Kari Söderholm cc