Green bean vs Pea - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison
Peas are over 2.5 times richer in vitamins C, B1, and B3, phosphorus and copper, and five times richer in zinc. They are richer in vitamins B2, B6, and B9, iron, potassium, and magnesium.
Peas are two times richer in dietary fiber, and they are considered a great source of dietary protein as well.
Green beans are three times richer in vitamin E; they are richer in vitamins K, B5, and calcium as well. Green beans contain more sodium.
Table of contents
- Types & Varieties
- Pea pod vs. Green Bean
- Weight Loss & Diets
- Health Impact
- Health Benefits
- Cardiovascular Health
- Digestive Health
- Weight Loss
- Ocular Health
- Bone Health & Coagulation
- Downsides and Risks
This article provides information about the main nutritional differences between two legume family members - peas and green beans, and their beneficial impacts on health and risks.
Peas (Pisum sativum) belong to the Pisum genus and Faboideae subfamily.
Green beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), also known as common, French, string, or snap beans, belong to the Phaseolus genus.
Both peas and green beans belong to the flowering plants family Fabaceae or Leguminosae, also known as the legumes family. This family is the third-largest land plant family and includes trees, shrubs, perennial, and annual herbaceous plants. Soybean, chickpeas, peanut, lentil, and alfalfa belong to this family.
Peas are usually small, spherical, commonly green seeds or the seed-pods of the fruit. The pods are long, round, and slightly curved with a smooth texture.
Common beans are a few inches long, with a round or flattened shape.
Peas are used in a variety of ways in cooking. Peas can be used in a side dish, soups, salads, pasta, omelet, hummus, risotto, and many other foods.
Green beans are widely used too. They can be cooked, grilled, fried, and used as such or with other ingredients. They are also used to make casserole, salads, side dishes.
Types & Varieties
Different pea types vary in size and sweetness; some mature earlier than others.
The main types of peas are English, garden or shelling peas, snow, sugar snap, and field peas.
English peas - their pods are inedible and must be removed from the pod. Some of the varieties of this type are Alaska, Avola, Canoe, Capucigner, Desiree Dwarf, Kelvedon Wonder, Lincoln, Little Marvel, Terrain, Tom Thumb, Wando, Maestro, Green Arrow, Tall Telephone, and Misty Shell.
Snow peas - they have flat and sweet edible pods with tiny peas. A few varieties of this type are Green Beauty, Mammoth Melting Sugar, Golden Sweet, Oregon Giant, Snowbird, Avalanche, and Gray Sugar.
Sugar snap peas - they cross between the two previous types and have very sweet edible pods. Hurst Green Shaft, Magnolia Blossom Tendril, Cascadia, Sugar Ann, Sugar Bon, and Super sugar snap belong to this type.
The two main types of green beans are pole beans and bush beans - defined by their growth habits. Varieties of bush beans grow on bush-type plants closer to the ground. Some bush bean varieties are Big Kahuna, Purple Queen, Contender, Greencrop, Maxi Dwarf, Blue Lake #274, Eureka, Jade, Maxibel, Rolande, Derby, Cherokee Wax.
Varieties of pole beans grow on plants in need of a support structure, and some of them are Kentucky Blue, Fortex, Purple King, Rattlesnake Pole, Emerite.
The nutritional values are presented for raw peas and raw green beans.
Macronutrients and Calories
Both peas and green beans are not particularly rich in macronutrients. However, peas contain two times more carbs and fats and three times more protein when compared to green beans. Peas consist of 78.9% water, and green beans consist of 90.3% water, making peas denser.
The average serving size of peas is 1 cup (145 grams), and the average serving size of green beans is ten beans (55 grams).
Both peas and green beans are low-calorie foods.
A hundred gram serving of peas provides 54 calories, and a hundred gram serving of green beans provides 20 calories.
Protein and Fats
Three hundred hundred grams of peas and green beans cover 33% and 11% of the daily protein need, respectively. Peas are considered to be a great source of plant-based protein.
These foods have high protein quality by containing some amounts of all essential amino acids.
Peas and green beans contain meager amounts of fats, and 300 hundred grams of them cover only 2% and 1% of the daily fat need, respectively.
These foods are absent in cholesterol and trans fats.
Three hundred grams of peas and green beans cover 14% and 7% of the daily carb need, respectively.
Peas contain 1.7 times more sugar, 2.1 times more dietary fiber, and 3.6 times less fructose than green beans.
Peas and green beans contain some amounts of starch as well.
Peas are over three times richer in vitamins C, B1, and almost three times richer in vitamin B3 or niacin. Peas are also richer in vitamins A, B2, B6, and B9 or folate.
Green beans are three times richer in vitamin E and two times richer in vitamin B5. They are richer in vitamin K as well.
Both of the foods are absent in vitamins D and B12.
Peas are the winner in this category. They contain five times more zinc, 2.8 times more phosphorus, and 2.5 times more copper. Peas are also richer in iron, potassium, and magnesium.
Green beans contain almost 1.5 times more calcium and a little more sodium.
Pea pod vs. Green Bean
Edible-podded peas are gaining interest nowadays. Peas with edible pods are snow peas and (sugar) snap peas.
Pea pods and green beans have very similar macronutrient contents with less than one gram of difference in proteins, fats, net carbs, and dietary fiber. Consequently, they are very similar in calories too: one hundred grams of green beans provides 31 calories, and peapods - 42 calories.
Pea pods are particularly rich in vitamin C (one hundred grams coverers 65% of the daily need).
Pea pods are somewhat richer in vitamins B1, B5, B6, B9, A, calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, and lower in sodium. Meanwhile, green beans are somewhat richer in vitamins B2, B3, K, magnesium, and potassium (1).
Both peas and green beans have low glycemic index values. The average glycemic index value of peas is 54 (2). The average glycemic index value of green beans is 30 (3).
Foods with a low glycemic index may improve blood sugar levels, glucose utilization, lipid profile, the capacity of fibrinolysis (prevents blood clots from growing), and reduce body weight in type 2 diabetes (4, 5).
The pH value of green beans is 5.60, which is moderately acidic (6).
The pH value of canned peas ranges between 5.6 to 6.5, making it from moderately acidic to slightly acidic. Canned green beans' pH value can be anywhere from 4.9 to 5.5, making them strongly acidic (7).
The PRAL or potential renal acid load value shows how much acid is produced from the given food in the host's organism. The negative PRAL value shows that the food is base-producing.
Peas have the PRAL value of 0.3, making them acid-producing, whereas the PRAL value of green beans is -3.3, making them base-producing.
Weight Loss & Diets
Both peas and green beans are not nutrient-dense, making them a good choice for weight loss diets. Green beans are better for low-fats, low-carbs, low-calorie, and low-glycemic-index diets.
Green beans are keto-friendly, while on the other hand, peas are not. However, small amounts of peas can be consumed during the keto diet.
Both of these foods can be consumed during the DASH, Atkins, Mediterranean diets.
Green beans can be added to the food list during the "Cruise" or second phase of the Dukan diet; meanwhile, peas are not allowed yet. Some amounts of peas are allowed during the "Consolidation" or third phase.
Green beans can be a good part of the BRAT diet as well, whereas peas should be avoided.
Peas and green beans show various beneficial effects on health due to their vitamins, minerals, proteins, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, low fat, calorie, and glycemic index contents. However, they have downsides as well.
Some of the minerals in peas help maintain normal blood, especially arterial blood pressures. They also regulate the fluid balance of the body and influence cardiac output (8).
Due to their high fiber contents, peas and green beans lower total and LDL or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and blood clots. Along with phytochemicals, other antioxidants found in these two reduce the risk of ischemic stroke as well (9, 10, 11).
As low glycemic index foods with high fiber content, legumes help improve blood sugar levels, reduce body weight, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels; therefore improve lipid control in type 2 diabetic people (12, 13, 14).
Peas are a good source of plant-based dietary protein, and studies have shown that this type of protein lowers both fasting and postprandial glucose levels in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus (15).
Higher dietary protein intake is associated with a lower risk of pre-diabetes and diabetes (16).
Dietary fiber from legumes has the potential to regulate digestion and absorption, transit time, stool formation, function as a bulking agent, and increase stool bulk and frequency (17, 18).
Dietary fiber is metabolized by gut microbiota, leading to the production of SCFAs or short-chain fatty acids. The SCFAs play a role in regulating the host's metabolism and immune system (19).
During storage and processing, pea proteins undergo a reaction called glycosylation. Consumption of these peas increases the host's autochthonous or indigenous bacteria, their metabolic activity, and previously mentioned SCFAs (20).
Unlike peas, green beans are low in FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) making them a good choice for people with irritable bowel syndrome and other functional bowel disorders (21). On the other hand, peas being high in FODMAPs can cause digestive distress which will be described below.
Along with a high level of dietary fiber; that promotes satiation and decreases absorption of macronutrients, low fat, and low glycemic index values, these beans help in weight loss or prevention of obesity (22).
Due to being rich in dietary protein, peas enhance fullness or satiety and energy expenditure in negative energy balance contributing to the treatment of obesity and metabolic syndrome (23, 24).
These green legumes are rich in carotenoids, which may benefit in reducing the progression of age-related macular degeneration and cataract (25). Carotenoids and antioxidant vitamins somewhat protect the retina from oxidative damage caused by the absorption of light (26). However, the results are controversial and more studies are yet to be done.
Bone Health & Coagulation
Plant-based protein increases the bone mineral mass and reduces the risk of osteoporotic fractures (27).
Peas and green beans are good sources of vitamin K, which plays an important role in bone health. Vitamin K deficiency is associated with an increased risk of bone fractures, osteoporosis, poor bone development (28, 29).
Vitamin K has an essential role in blood coagulation. Its deficit leads to VKDB or vitamin K deficiency bleeding in infants. One of the causing reasons is low vitamin K content in breast milk (30).
Hypovitaminosis K is also associated with an increased risk of vascular calcification and mortality (31).
Bowman-Birk inhibitors are naturally occurring health-promoting components from peas that reach the colon in the active form and exert anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. These inhibitors have a potential chemoprotective role in the early stages of colorectal cancer (32).
Phytochemical tannins and saponins found in dry beans' and peas' pulses have antioxidant and anticancer effects by blocking cancer progression, metastasis, and formation of new blood vessels in cancer tissue (33, 34, 35).
Flavonoids from these legumes act as antioxidants in healthy tissues and pro-oxidants in cancer cells, triggering cell death and downregulating inflammation (36).
Downsides and Risks
Peas and green beans contain some amounts of antinutrients, compounds blocking the absorption of many essential nutrients. Phytic acid inhibits the absorption of zinc, iron, calcium, and magnesium (37). Lectins interfere with the absorption and transportation of carbs during digestion and cause epithelial lesions (38). Fermentation, soaking, and other cooking methods reduce the activity of antinutrients (39, 40).
Peas are high in FODMAPs, short-chain non-absorbable osmotic carbs, undergoing bacterial fermentation in the small intestine, increasing small intestinal water volume and gas production in the colon of people with visceral hypersensitivity. This process induces or worsens functional gastrointestinal symptoms, such as cramping, bloating, flatulence, diarrhea (41, 42).
- Managing Carbohydrates for Better Health
- pH values of foods and food products
- BAM Chapter 21A: Examination of Canned Foods
- Diabetes Reversal by Plant-Based Diet
- Review of the health benefits of peas (Pisum sativum L.)
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in price|
|Rich in minerals|
|Rich in vitamins|
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in glycemic index|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
All nutrients comparison - raw data values
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low Calories diet|
|Low glycemic index diet|