The pea is most commonly the small spherical seed or the seed-pod of the pod fruit Pisum sativum. Each pod contains several peas. Pea pods are botanically fruit, since they contain seeds and developed from the ovary of a (pea) flower. The name is also used to describe other edible seeds from the Fabaceae such as the pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan), the cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), and the seeds from several species of Lathyrus.
P. sativum is an annual plant, with a life cycle of one year. It is a cool-season crop grown in many parts of the world; planting can take place from winter to early summer depending on location. The average pea weighs between 0.1 and 0.36 grams. The immature peas (and in snow peas the tender pod as well) are used as a vegetable, fresh, frozen or canned; varieties of the species typically called field peas are grown to produce dry peas like the split pea shelled from the matured pod. These are the basis of pease porridge and pea soup, staples of medieval cuisine; in Europe, consuming fresh immature green peas was an innovation of Early Modern cuisine.
The wild pea is restricted to the Mediterranean basin and the Near East. The earliest archaeological finds of peas date from the late neolithic era of current Greece, Syria, Turkey and Jordan. In Egypt, early finds date from ca. 4800–4400 BC in the Nile delta area, and from ca. 3800–3600 BC in Upper Egypt. The pea was also present in Georgia in the 5th millennium BC. Farther east, the finds are younger. Peas were present in Afghanistan ca. 2000 BC, in Harappa, Pakistan, and in northwest India in 2250–1750 BC. In the second half of the 2nd millennium BC, this pulse crop appears in the Ganges Basin and southern
Sweet, delicious green peas, also popular as garden peas, are one of the ancient cultivated vegetables grown for their succulent nutritious green seeds. Peas probably have originated in the sub-Himalayan plains of north-west India. Today, this versatile legume is one of the major commercial crops grown all over the temperate, and semi-tropical regions.
Botanically, pea plant is an herbaceous vine. It belongs to the family of Fabaceae, in the genus: Pisum. Scientific name: Pisum sativum. Some of the common names include english peas, sweet peas, garden peas, pease,...etc.
Pea is a quick growing, annual herbaceous vine which requires trellis to support its growth. It flourishes under well-drained, sandy soil supplemented with adequate moisture and cool weather conditions. Short stalked, green pods appear by late winter or early spring. Each pod measures about 2-3 inches long, swollen or compressed, straight or slightly curved, filled with single row of 2-10, light-green, smooth edible seeds.
In general, the pods harvested while just short of reaching maturity, at the point when their seeds are green, soft, sweet and edible as raw. Allowing the pods to mature further would make seeds less sweet, bitter and turn light-green to yellow.
Pea tendrils are also edible. They are delicate, tender top-shoots of young pea plant. Pea tendrils have flavor akin to peas. The tendrils and leafy-shoots are one of favored item in salads and cooking in many East and South-east Asian regions.
Green peas are one of the most nutritious leguminous vegetables rich in health benefiting phyto-nutrients, minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants.
Fresh, tender peas are relatively low in calories on comparison to beans, and cowpeas. 100 g of green peas carry just 81 calories, and no cholesterol. Nonetheless, they are good sources of protein, vitamins, and soluble as well as insoluble fiber.
Fresh pea pods are an excellent sources of folic acid. 100 g provides 65 µg or 16% of recommended daily levels of folates. Folates are one of the B-complex vitamins required for DNA synthesis inside the cell. Studies suggest that adequate folate rich foods when given to expectant mothers would help prevent neural tube defects in their newborn babies.
Fresh green peas are very good in ascorbic acid (vitamin C). 100 g of fresh pods carry 40 mg or 67% of daily requirement of vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful natural water-soluble anti-oxidant. Vegetables rich in this vitamin would help human body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.
Peas contain phytosterols, especially ß-sitosterol. Studies suggest that vegetables like legumes, fruits and cereals rich in plant sterols help lower cholesterol levels inside the human body.
Garden peas are also good in vitamin K. 100 g of fresh seeds contain about 24.8 µg or about 21% of daily requirement of vitamin K-1 (phylloquinone). Vitamin K has been found to have a potential role in bone mass building function (mineralization) through promotion of osteotrophic activity inside the bone cells. It also has established role in the cure of Alzheimer's disease patients by limiting neuronal damage inside the brain.
Fresh green peas also carry adequate amounts of anti-oxidants flavonoids such as carotenes, lutein and zea-xanthin as well as vitamin-A (provide 765 IU or 25.5% of RDA per 100 g). Vitamin A is an essential nutrient required for maintaining healthy membranes, skin and eye-sight. Additionally, consumption of natural fruits/vegetables rich in flavonoids helps to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
In addition to folates, peas are also good in many other essential B-complex vitamins such as pantothenic acid, niacin, thiamin, and pyridoxine. Furthermore, they are rich source of many minerals such as calcium, iron, copper, zinc, and manganese.