Black-eyed peas are beans that are rich in nutrients, including vitamin A, folate, manganese, and fiber. These nutrients may help lower blood pressure, support digestion, maintain skin health, and more.

This article will explain what black-eyed peas are, their nutritional profile, the health benefits of eating them, how to prepare them, and how to incorporate them into recipes.

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Black-eyed peas are a type of legume. They are actually a bean, not a pea. They are related to cowpeas, or goat peas. Historically, they originate in West Africa, but they grow in warm regions around the globe.

Black-eyed peas get their name from their appearance. They are cream in color with a little black speck that resembles an eye in the center, outlining where they were once attached to pods. As with other types of beans, people can purchase them canned or dried.

This legume is a good source of complex carbohydrates, fiber, and many essential vitamins and minerals. 1 cup of cooked black-eyed peas, or 165 grams (g), contains:

  • 160 calories
  • 0.6 g fat
  • 33.5 g carbs
  • 5.2 g protein
  • 8.3 g fiber
  • 5.3 g of sugar
  • 10% of the daily value (DV) for iron
  • 16% of the DV for calcium
  • 15% of the DV for potassium
  • 20% of the DV for magnesium
  • 24% of the DV for copper
  • 15% of the DV for zinc
  • 52% of the DV for folate
  • 44% of the DV for vitamin A
  • 37% of the DV for vitamin K
  • 41% of the DV for manganese

In addition to being a source of important nutrients, black-eyed peas may also have some specific health benefits. They include:

Aiding digestion

Black-eyed peas can help improve digestion for some people due to their fiber content, which can help promote regular bowel movements.

This may be particularly helpful for those who experience occasional constipation. According to a 2012 meta-analysis, a higher dietary fiber intake can help people with constipation have more frequent bowel movements.

Black-eyed peas also contain prebiotic fiber, which feeds the beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract.

However, it is worth noting that for some people with digestive conditions, the high amount of fiber in black-eyed peas may be problematic.

May lower blood pressure and inflammation

According to a 2018 review, the black-eyed pea’s close relative, the cowpea, may lower the risk of diabetes, reduce inflammation levels, and stabilize or lower blood pressure.

However, the authors note that while some studies did find cowpeas reduced these conditions or the risk of developing them, high-quality and long-term studies are necessary to confirm the results.

May help with maintaining a healthy weight

A 2015 study found that people who consumed legumes on a regular basis were less likely to have obesity than people who did not.

Black-eyed peas are a rich source of complex carbohydrates, which take longer to digest than simple carbohydrates. As a result, people who eat them may feel fuller for longer, which may help with reaching a moderate weight.

May help to lower cholesterol

There is evidence that regularly eating legumes can help lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol. Lowering high cholesterol can reduce the risk of heart disease.

Additionally, a 2017 review found that a diet generally high in fiber may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

People can eat black-eyed peas as part of a Mediterranean diet, which can also lower LDL cholesterol.

Learn more about the Mediterranean diet here.

Supporting eye and skin health

Black-eyed peas contain an impressive amount of beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. In one serving alone, black-eyed peas meet a quarter of an adult’s daily vitamin A needs.

Vitamin A helps maintain healthy eyes and skin, protecting and lubricating the mucous membranes around them.

One of the downsides of eating beans regularly is that it can cause a build-up of intestinal gas. If people experience this, there are a few things they can do.

First, it is best to introduce high-fiber foods gradually into the diet, particularly if a person is not used to eating them. Another tactic is to soak the dried beans before cooking them, as this makes them easier to digest.

People can try taking digestive enzymes before or during meals that contain a lot of fiber. There are also many over-the-counter remedies for bloating, indigestion, and gas.

Consult a doctor before taking any new supplements, such as digestive enzymes, as they may not be suitable for everyone.

Learn 20 different ways to relieve trapped gas.

People can cook canned black-eyed peas straight from the can. However, if a person is using dried black-eyed peas, they may wish to soak them first. This reduces their overall cooking time.

To soak dried black-eyed peas, first remove unwanted particles, like rocks or stones. Then follow one of these two methods:

  1. Place the dried beans in a large pot and cover them with about 3–4 inches of cold water. Leave the beans to soak overnight. The next day, simply drain, rinse, and cook.
  2. Do a quick soak by putting the beans in a pot, covering them with water, and bringing the water to a boil for 2–3 minutes before removing the pot from the heat source. Cover the pot and let the beans soak for 1 hour before draining and rinsing the peas.

After either soaking option, it is time to cook the peas. Cover the peas in a large pot filled with just enough fresh water. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer until the peas are tender, which takes around 40 minutes.

People can incorporate black-eyed peas into their diet easily. Here are some ideas:

  • Hummus: Add mashed cooked black-eyed peas to homemade hummus. People can blend them alongside chickpeas, or use them instead of chickpeas as the main ingredient.
  • Burritos: People can add black-eyed peas to burritos and wraps by taking mashed warm beans and spreading them on, adding other fillings on top. A wrap with eggs and vegetables would make a healthy breakfast that is high in protein.
  • Salads: Black-eyed peas can add flavor and texture to salads. Add them to a salad with a dressing such as olive oil, mustard, vinegar, fresh lemon juice, or garlic.
  • Burgers: People can swap out the meat in burgers for smashed black-eyed peas, or mix meat with black-eyed peas to cut down on saturated fat. People can also add them to bean Sloppy Joes placed on a burger bun, to vegetarian chili, or tacos.
  • Curries and stews: Pairing black-eyed peas with warm spices such as cinnamon, turmeric, or cumin, and sautéed aromatics such as onions, garlic, or ginger can make a good base for a curry or stew.
  • Pilaf: Black-eyed peas are a staple in numerous traditional African American dishes, including Hoppin’ John, which is a rice pilaf containing black-eyed peas and smoked and salted pork.
  • Vegetable soup: A hearty soup can be a filling meal, especially with some croutons or bread on the side. Adding a can of crushed or whole black-eyed peas can be an easy way to make soups go further.

Black-eyed peas have a number of health benefits. They may help some people reach a moderate weight, get enough fiber, or eat a balanced diet. Black-eyed peas are also versatile to cook with, and can be part of many main meals or side dishes.