Health Benefits of Black Eyed Peas

Black eyed peas, also known as cowpeas, black-eyed beans, or goat peas, are a bean grown throughout the world. Records show that the bean was brought to the West Indies by enslaved West Africans as early as 1674.

Black eyed peas are creamy white with black marks or “eyes” outlining where they were once attached to pods. People typically boil black eyed peas for use in recipes or as standalone side dishes.

Black eyed peas are famous for being an important ingredient in “Hoppin’ John,” a popular Southern American dish believed to bring good luck. People have been eating Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day for decades, though its origins are a subject of debate. 

Like other beans, black eyed peas are highly nutritious and are a good staple food. Black eyed peas are rich in fiber and protein, which make them an excellent energy source. 

Nutrients per Serving

A half-cup of black eyed peas (cooked) contains:  

Black eyed peas are a rich source of complex carbs, which take longer to digest than simple carbs, provide energy and fiber, and help with weight loss.

Black eyed peas are also an excellent source of:

Black eyed peas contain antioxidants like flavonoids, which help the body fight disease. The fiber in black eyed peas helps the body absorb flavonoids and other helpful nutrients. 

Health Benefits

The vitamins and minerals in black eyed peas provide significant health benefits. For instance, vitamin K is necessary for blood clotting, making it important for people taking blood thinners.

Here are some other health benefits of black eyed peas:

Pregnancy health

One half-cup serving of black eyed peas contains 44 percent of the recommended daily intake of folate, a B Vitamin that helps to lower the chance of brain and spinal cord defects in newborn babies.

Weight management

Eating black eyed peas can help you maintain healthy weight levels. Black eyed peas are rich in soluble and insoluble fiber, which helps the body with weight management. The protein and slow-digesting, high-quality carbohydrates in black eyed peas also help you feel full.

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Higher levels of energy

One half-cup serving of black eyed peas contains 40 percent of the recommended daily intake of manganese for men and 52 percent for women. Manganese is an antioxidant that protects the cell structures responsible for producing your body’s energy. The protein in black eyed peas also helps boost your energy levels.

Improved eye health

One half-cup serving of black eyed peas has 13 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A. Vitamin A improves eye health by protecting your corneas, helping your body produce lubrication for your eyes, and aiding in retina function. 

Reduced risk of diabetes

The soluble fiber in black eyed peas slows digestion, which helps the body regulate blood sugar levels and reduces the risk of blood sugar spikes. This lowered risk makes black eyed peas a healthy food choice for people with diabetes.

Stronger bones

One half-cup serving of black eyed peas contains 8 percent of the daily recommended intake of calcium, a nutrient that is critical for bone strength. 

Ease of digestion

The soluble and insoluble fiber in black eyed peas aids digestion by helping your body produce bulkier stool, which is easier to pass. Fiber also helps your body solidify loose, watery stool and maintain bowel health.

How to Prepare Black Eyed Peas

You can soak and boil black eyed peas the same as you would other dried beans. Hoppin’ John is a popular traditional recipe that contains black eyed peas, rice, smoked pork, and onions. 

As with other beans, you can:

  • Mix black eyed peas with other beans.
  • Add black eyed peas to salads and soups.
  • Eat black eyed peas on their own.

You’ll find both dried and canned black eyed peas in many grocery stores. To enjoy this nutritious bean, you can have it:

  • Mashed in hummus.
  • Mixed into a bean-based fritter.
  • Mixed in with chili.
  • Creamed.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on August 22, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Bastyr University: “Fiber and Weight Loss.”

Clinical Diabetes: “Legumes: Health Benefits and Culinary Approaches to Increase Intake.”

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon.

Harvard Health Publishing: “Legume of the month: black eyed peas.” 

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: “Fiber.”

Journal of Nutritional Science: “Flavonoids: an overview.”

Library of Congress: “Everyday Mysteries.”

Mayo Clinic: “Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet."

National Institutes of Health: “Vitamin K.”

Reviews in Obstetrics and Gynecology: “Folic Acid Supplementation and Pregnancy: More Than Just Neural Tube Defect Prevention.”

Washington University School of Medicine: “Healthy “Hoppin’ John” to Welcome 2015 (Recipe).”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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