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Kidney Beans vs. Pigeon Peas — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian by Jack Yacoubian | Last updated on June 29, 2023
Medically reviewed by Astghik Baghinyan Article author photo Astghik Baghinyan
Kidney beans
vs
Pigeon pea

Summary

Kidney beans are slightly richer in proteins compared to pigeon peas. The main minerals in both are coppermanganeseironphosphorus, and zinc. All are present in similar amounts, but kidney beans have double the amount of iron. 

Fresh (immature) pigeon peas can be consumed raw, while matured pigeon peas must be soaked first and then cooked. Like matured pigeon peas, kidney beans cannot be consumed raw and must be soaked first and then cooked. Whereas the color of kidney beans ranges from light to dark red, pigeon peas can be anywhere between green, yellow, to brown. They are also relatively more round than kidney beans. 

Introduction

In this article, we will compare two types of legumes: kidney beans and pigeon peas.

We will focus on their nutritional differences and health impacts.

Overview

Appearance

Kidney beans earned their name because they look like mini kidneys. Their color ranges from light to dark red, and there are hence many types of kidney beans, including red kidney beans, white kidney beans, and more. On the other hand, the shape of pigeon peas is more round when compared to kidney beans. Their colors may be greenyellow, or brown depending on how mature the peas are, as well as how they have been cooked. 

Taste 

The taste of pigeon peas has often been described as nutty and minty, while kidney beans are often described as sweet.

Use

Fresh (immature) pigeon peas can be consumed without cooking. You can add them to salads or eat them as a snack. When matured, pigeon peas should be soaked first in water and then cooked. Just like matured pigeon peas, kidney beans must be soaked before cooking. Pigeon peas are commonly used in soups, sauces, and curries, while kidney beans are very popular in chili and jambalaya

Nutritional Content Comparison

The average serving size for cooked, boiled legumes is usually ½ of a cup, which is around 80-90 grams.

In this section, we will discuss 100g of each legume. We will consider kidney beans and pigeon peas in cooked forms (boiled with no salt).

It is interesting to note that after cooking, the sizes of kidney beans and pigeon peas increase by approximately three times.

Macronutrients and Calories

Per 100 grams of serving, kidney beans and pigeon peas provide almost equal amounts of calories. Kidney beans provide 127 calories, while pigeon peas provide 121 calories

As can be seen from the graphs below, the macronutrient composition of kidney beans and pigeon peas are quite similar, with very few differences.

Macronutrient Comparison

Macronutrient breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Protein +28.3%
Contains more Fats +31.6%
Equal in Carbs - 23.25
Equal in Water - 68.55
Equal in Other - 1.06
9% 23% 67%
Protein: 8.67 g
Fats: 0.5 g
Carbs: 22.8 g
Water: 66.94 g
Other: 1.09 g
7% 23% 69%
Protein: 6.76 g
Fats: 0.38 g
Carbs: 23.25 g
Water: 68.55 g
Other: 1.06 g
Contains more Protein +28.3%
Contains more Fats +31.6%
Equal in Carbs - 23.25
Equal in Water - 68.55
Equal in Other - 1.06

Proteins

Kidney beans are slightly richer in proteins compared to pigeon peas. Kidney beans contain 8.67g of protein, whereas pigeon peas contain 6.76g.

Carbs

Pigeon peas and kidney beans contain similar amounts of carbs. Per 100-gram serving, pigeon peas contain 16.55 grams of protein, while kidney beans contain 16.4 grams.

Fiber

Pigeon peas and kidney beans contain similar amounts of fiber as well. Per 100-gram serving, there are 6.4 grams of fiber in kidney beans, while the same serving of pigeon peas contains 6.7 grams. Given that the daily need for fiber is around 25-30 grams, both are great sources of fiber.

Fats

The amount of total fat in both kidney beans and pigeon peas is negligible. Pigeon peas contain 0.38g, whereas kidney beans contain 0.5g.  

From the fat-type comparison chart below, you can see that pigeon peas and kidney beans have similar amounts of polyunsaturated fats; however, kidney beans have more monounsaturated fats, while pigeon peas have more saturated fat

Fat Type Comparison

Fat type breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains less Saturated Fat -12%
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +1200%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +35.6%
19% 10% 71%
Saturated Fat: 0.073 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.039 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.278 g
29% 70%
Saturated Fat: 0.083 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.003 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.205 g
Contains less Saturated Fat -12%
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +1200%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +35.6%

Minerals

Kidney beans and pigeon peas are packed with various minerals to help you fill up your daily need.

The main minerals in both are coppermanganeseironphosphorus, and zinc. All are in similar amounts in both, but kidney beans have double the amount of iron. If we look at the small differences, kidney beans have slightly more phosphors and zinc, while pigeon peas have slightly more copper and manganese.

In the diagrams below, we can visualize the mineral distributions.

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Contains more Iron +100%
Contains more Phosphorus +16%
Contains less Sodium -80%
Contains more Zinc +11.1%
Contains more Calcium +22.9%
Contains more Copper +24.5%
Contains more Manganese +16.5%
Contains more Selenium +163.6%
Equal in Magnesium - 46
Equal in Potassium - 384
Equal in Zinc - 0.9
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 11% 84% 30% 60% 36% 1% 28% 72% 57% 6%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 13% 42% 33% 51% 34% 1% 25% 90% 66% 16%
Contains more Iron +100%
Contains more Phosphorus +16%
Contains less Sodium -80%
Contains more Zinc +11.1%
Contains more Calcium +22.9%
Contains more Copper +24.5%
Contains more Manganese +16.5%
Contains more Selenium +163.6%
Equal in Magnesium - 46
Equal in Potassium - 384
Equal in Zinc - 0.9

Vitamins

The two most prevalent vitamins found in both kidney beans and pigeon peas are folate and vitamin B1. They are present in both in similar amounts

Per 100 grams of kidney beans, you receive 130µg of folate, while for pigeon peas, it is a little lower and equals 111µg

A single serving of neither of these legumen provides any other significant amounts of vitamins; however, we can still compare the little amounts that they do provide. Kidney beans have slightly more vitamin B5, vitamin B6, vitamin K, and vitamin C, while pigeon peas provide slightly more vitamin B5 and vitamin B3.

In the diagrams below, we can visualize the vitamin distributions.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
:
Contains more Vitamin C +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +140%
Contains more Folate +17.1%
Contains more Vitamin A +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +35.1%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +45%
Equal in Vitamin B1 - 0.146
Equal in Vitamin B2 - 0.059
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 0% 1% 0% 4% 40% 14% 11% 14% 28% 98% 0% 17% 22%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 1% 0% 0% 0% 37% 14% 15% 20% 12% 84% 0% 0% 0%
Contains more Vitamin C +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +140%
Contains more Folate +17.1%
Contains more Vitamin A +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +35.1%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +45%
Equal in Vitamin B1 - 0.146
Equal in Vitamin B2 - 0.059

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index is a rating system used for foods containing carbohydrates. As both kidney beans and pigeon peas have a glycemic index of 22, they are both considered low-GI foods

Acidity 

One way to understand the acidity of foods is through their potential renal acid load (PRAL) value, which shows how much acid or base the given food produces inside the organism. 

Based on our calculations, the PRAL value of kidney beans is -0.7, while the PRAL value for pigeon peas is -2.1, which means both are alkaline

Health Impact

This section will highlight the different health impacts each legume provides. Although several common ones exist, we will only discuss the different health impacts.

Both kidney beans and pigeon peas are rich in fiber, decreasing the risks of gastrointestinal diseases such as diverticulitis and chronic constipation. In addition, fiber-rich food improves gut microflora, as well as positively affects cardiovascular health and blood sugar control (1).

While pigeon peas completely lack vitamin K, kidney beans contain little amounts of the vitamin. A diet rich in vitamin K has been linked with decreased cardiovascular mortality risks and reduced arterial calcifications. In addition, it reduces the risks of type 2 diabetes development and osteoporosis. However, while taking anticoagulant medications, vitamin K intake should be monitored (2, 3, 4).

Kidney beans are richer in iron, although pigeon peas do contain the mineral as well. They, however,  also contain phytic compounds, which reduce iron absorption (5).

Both also have low amounts of selenium, although pigeon peas are richerSelenium provides several health benefits to the immune system to fend off viral infections, thyroid hormone regulation, and antioxidative properties against reactive oxygen species (6).

Both pigeon peas and kidney beans also contain some amounts of manganese, which has antioxidative properties and is coenzymes for several metabolic reactions (7).

Pigeon peas and kidney beans are also excellent sources of folate, which reduces the risks of anemia and congenital neural tube defects in babies (8).   

Both foods should not be eaten raw because they contain phytic acid and other compounds, which act as anti-foods and reduce the absorption of nutrients. However, after cooking, these compounds get neutralized (5).

Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian
Education: Haigazian Medical University
Last updated: June 29, 2023
Medically reviewed by Astghik Baghinyan

Infographic

Kidney beans vs Pigeon pea infographic
Infographic link

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the rightmost column. It displays the amounts side by side, giving a clearer understanding of the difference.
Kidney beans Pigeon pea
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in price ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal
Lower in Glycemic Index Equal
Rich in minerals Equal
Rich in vitamins Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Kidney beans Pigeon pea Opinion
Net carbs 16.4g 16.55g Pigeon pea
Protein 8.67g 6.76g Kidney beans
Fats 0.5g 0.38g Kidney beans
Carbs 22.8g 23.25g Pigeon pea
Calories 127kcal 121kcal Kidney beans
Sugar 0.32g Pigeon pea
Fiber 6.4g 6.7g Pigeon pea
Calcium 35mg 43mg Pigeon pea
Iron 2.22mg 1.11mg Kidney beans
Magnesium 42mg 46mg Pigeon pea
Phosphorus 138mg 119mg Kidney beans
Potassium 405mg 384mg Kidney beans
Sodium 1mg 5mg Kidney beans
Zinc 1mg 0.9mg Kidney beans
Copper 0.216mg 0.269mg Pigeon pea
Manganese 0.43mg 0.501mg Pigeon pea
Selenium 1.1µg 2.9µg Pigeon pea
Vitamin A 0IU 3IU Pigeon pea
Vitamin E 0.03mg Kidney beans
Vitamin C 1.2mg 0mg Kidney beans
Vitamin B1 0.16mg 0.146mg Kidney beans
Vitamin B2 0.058mg 0.059mg Pigeon pea
Vitamin B3 0.578mg 0.781mg Pigeon pea
Vitamin B5 0.22mg 0.319mg Pigeon pea
Vitamin B6 0.12mg 0.05mg Kidney beans
Folate 130µg 111µg Kidney beans
Choline 30.5mg Kidney beans
Vitamin K 8.4µg Kidney beans
Tryptophan 0.104mg 0.066mg Kidney beans
Threonine 0.319mg 0.239mg Kidney beans
Isoleucine 0.41mg 0.245mg Kidney beans
Leucine 0.736mg 0.483mg Kidney beans
Lysine 0.607mg 0.474mg Kidney beans
Methionine 0.113mg 0.076mg Kidney beans
Phenylalanine 0.511mg 0.579mg Pigeon pea
Valine 0.5mg 0.292mg Kidney beans
Histidine 0.238mg 0.241mg Pigeon pea
Saturated Fat 0.073g 0.083g Kidney beans
Monounsaturated Fat 0.039g 0.003g Kidney beans
Polyunsaturated fat 0.278g 0.205g Kidney beans

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Kidney beans Pigeon pea
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low Glycemic Index diet Equal

People also compare

Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score

The summary scores indicate the extent to which this food can fulfill your daily vitamin and mineral requirements if you consume 3 servings, consisting of 100 grams of each (an approximation of 3 serving sizes).
Vitamins Daily Need Coverage Score
19%
Kidney beans
14%
Pigeon pea
Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
38%
Kidney beans
37%
Pigeon pea

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Sugar?
Pigeon pea
Pigeon pea is lower in Sugar (difference - 0.32g)
Which food is cheaper?
Pigeon pea
Pigeon pea is cheaper (difference - $0.2)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Kidney beans
Kidney beans contains less Sodium (difference - 4mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Kidney beans
Kidney beans is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.01g)
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
?
The foods have equal glycemic indexes (22)
Which food is richer in minerals?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.
Which food is richer in vitamins?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.

References

All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Kidney beans - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173740/nutrients
  2. Pigeon pea - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/172437/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.