If you’ve ever been served a bowl of snow peas, you may not be sure how to eat them, nor what makes them different than normal peas. These are nutritious and surprisingly flavorful vegetables that are used in the preparation of a number of global cuisines. Therefore, so it is important to understand what they contain, what potential health benefits they possess, and how to store and prepare them.
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What are Snow Peas?
Snow peas, a variety of pea, are actually eaten whole – while the peas are still in the pod. Unlike regular peas, the pods of snow peas do not contain inedible fiber, meaning that they are more palatable and not meant to be discarded. These pods are also a source of good nutrients. Scientifically known as Pisum sativum var. saccharatum, these peas are not only popular in Chinese cuisine, but they are popular around the world, and are relatively easy to find in most grocery stores and import shops.
Each seed pod contains up to seven peas, and these peas can be cooked or eaten raw. Most people remove them from their garden in an unripe form, which is when they are tender, yet still crunchy. They take very little effort to prepare, and can be added to a number of meals, or simply munched on for a protein-rich snack!
Snow Peas Nutrition
In terms of their nutrient content, snow peas are packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, potassium, dietary fiber, magnesium, folic acid and small levels of healthy fats. These pods are also very low in calories, with slightly over 1 calorie per pod. They also lack cholesterol, making them a filling, yet nutritious dietary component.
Snow Peas Health Benefits
There are a number of impressive health benefits of snow peas, including weight loss, cancer prevention, improved heart health, reduced constipation, stronger bones, optimized immunity and lower levels of inflammation, among others.
These delicious little pods are high in dietary fiber and densely packed with valuable nutrients, which makes them quite filling. However, they have an extremely low level of fat and calories, so you can eat these vegetables without any guilt about ruining your diet or going over your calorie allotment for the day. The fiber will also help your digestive system and improve your metabolic speed, further helping with weight loss efforts.
High levels of dietary fiber in the body mean more control over your blood sugar levels. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate, but it regulates the glucose and insulin levels in your body. This is particularly important for people with diabetes, who need to watch their intake of simple sugars and closely monitor their blood sugar levels to prevent sudden spikes and drops.
Notable levels of vitamin C in snow peas help this vegetable seek out and neutralize free radicals, the primary perpetrator of cellular mutation, oxidative stress and chronic disease throughout the body.
With a significant amount of potassium and vitamin C, these peas can help protect the heart in various ways. Potassium can help reduce blood pressure and minimize the strain on the cardiovascular system, while vitamin C can induce repair efforts on blood vessels and arteries, thus lowering the risk of coronary heart diseases.
If your diet has suitable levels of dietary fiber, which snow peas provide, you can optimize your digestive processes. Fiber is able to stimulate peristaltic motion, improve nutrient uptake efficiency, and reduce inflammation in the gut that can lead to stomach discomfort.
Bone Mineral Density
Snow peas have various minerals that are needed by the body to increase bone mineral density, such as iron, potassium and manganese, among others. Although these minerals are found in small amounts, they can help lower your risk of osteoporosis.
Vitamin C is one of the most important nutrients in your diet, as it can help to stimulate the production of white blood cells, the main line of defense for the body’s immune system. This will lower your susceptibility to various infections and foreign pathogens.
Vitamin A is a critical element in our vision health, as this antioxidant vitamin can prevent oxidative stress in the retina. This means a lower risk of macular degeneration and a slowdown in the development of cataracts.
How to Cook Snow Peas?
If you want to cook snow peas, the easiest way is to simply fry them in a pan with oil and seasoning. This will retain most of the nutritional value and boost the flavor, yet it only takes a few minutes to prepare. Since these peas can also be eaten raw, they don’t require much cooking to be tender and delicious.
- 20-25 snow pea pods
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of water
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of pepper
- 1 slice of lemon (squeezed)
Step 1 – Heat olive oil in a pan.
Step 2 – Add garlic and allow it to saute.
Step 3 – Mix in spices and water.
Step 4 – Snap off stems of snow peas and remove string on the seam; add pods to the mixture.
Step 5 – Continue cooking and stirring the mixture for 2-3 minutes.
Step 6 – Add lemon juice after turning off the heat.
Step 7 – Serve and enjoy!
How to Store Snow Peas
Snow peas don’t have a long shelf life, so after purchasing or picking these peas, you can store them in your refrigerator for 2-3 days before the quality will begin to diminish. After 2-3 days, the peas will have less of a crunch, and their slightly sweet flavor will also begin to disappear.
Snap Peas vs. Snow Peas
Snap peas are often mistaken for snow peas, but in fact, snap peas are actually a cross between snow peas and garden peas. This hybrid is closer in appearance and flavor to snow peas, but tend to be slightly sweeter. Also commonly known as sugar-snap peas, these are also eaten in the pod (whole), and have the same tough string along the seam of the pod that should be removed before eating.