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Pea vs Green bean - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Arpi Gasparyan by Arpi Gasparyan | Last updated on May 06, 2022
Education: General Medicine at YSMU
Pea
vs
Green bean

Summary

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.

Introduction

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.

Classification

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.

Appearance

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.

Use

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.

Nutrition

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).

Calories

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.

Carbohydrates

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.

Vitamins

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.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Pea
7
:
Contains more Vitamin A +10.9%
Contains more Vitamin C +227.9%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +224.4%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +26.9%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +184.7%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +19.9%
Contains more Folate +97%
Contains more Vitamin E +215.4%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +116.3%
Contains more Vitamin K +73.4%
Equal in Vitamin A - 690
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 46% 3% 0% 134% 67% 31% 40% 7% 39% 49% 0% 62%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 42% 9% 0% 41% 21% 24% 14% 14% 33% 25% 0% 108%
Contains more Vitamin A +10.9%
Contains more Vitamin C +227.9%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +224.4%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +26.9%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +184.7%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +19.9%
Contains more Folate +97%
Contains more Vitamin E +215.4%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +116.3%
Contains more Vitamin K +73.4%
Equal in Vitamin A - 690

Minerals

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.

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Pea
7
:
Contains more Iron +42.7%
Contains more Magnesium +32%
Contains more Phosphorus +184.2%
Contains more Potassium +15.6%
Contains less Sodium -16.7%
Contains more Zinc +416.7%
Contains more Copper +155.1%
Contains more Calcium +48%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper 8% 56% 24% 47% 22% 1% 34% 59%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper 12% 39% 18% 17% 19% 1% 7% 24%
Contains more Iron +42.7%
Contains more Magnesium +32%
Contains more Phosphorus +184.2%
Contains more Potassium +15.6%
Contains less Sodium -16.7%
Contains more Zinc +416.7%
Contains more Copper +155.1%
Contains more Calcium +48%

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).

Glycemic Index

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).

Acidity

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.

Health Impact

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.

Health Benefits

Cardiovascular Health

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).

Diabetes

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).

Digestive Health

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.

Weight Loss

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).

Ocular Health

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).

Cancer

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).

References

  1. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170010/nutrients
  2. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/114/5/1625/6320814
  3. Managing Carbohydrates for Better Health
  4. https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/27/8/1866.short
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31374573/
  6. pH values of foods and food products
  7. BAM Chapter 21A: Examination of Canned Foods
  8. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/07853899109148064
  9. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/5/1155/htm
  10. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/129/7/1457S/4722591#164255277
  11. https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/25/18/4320/htm
  12. https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/11/2/149.short
  13. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/110/4/891/5543221
  14. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24180564/
  15. Diabetes Reversal by Plant-Based Diet
  16. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/109/5/1310/5485439
  17. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33208922/
  18. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25535635/
  19. https://www.cell.com/cell-host-microbe/fulltext/S1931-3128(18)30266-X
  20. Review of the health benefits of peas (Pisum sativum L.)
  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3966170/
  22. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15797686/
  23. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23107521/
  24. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32648023/
  25. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29885291/
  26. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7495246/
  27. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19400750/
  28. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7760385/
  29. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30725668/
  30. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32187975/
  31. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33409597/
  32. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22916809/
  33. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25061763/
  34. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32583791/
  35. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27782048/
  36. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32059369/
  37. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2266880/
  38. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/49965865
  39. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25694676/
  40. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34249384/
  41. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32965895/
  42. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28592442/
Article author photo Arpi Gasparyan
Education: General Medicine at YSMU
Last updated: May 06, 2022

Infographic

Pea vs Green bean infographic
Infographic link

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Pea Green bean
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in price ok
Rich in minerals ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in glycemic index ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Pea Green bean Opinion
Net carbs 8.75g 4.27g Pea
Protein 5.42g 1.83g Pea
Fats 0.4g 0.22g Pea
Carbs 14.45g 6.97g Pea
Calories 81kcal 31kcal Pea
Starch g 0.88g Green bean
Fructose 0.39g 1.39g Green bean
Sugar 5.67g 3.26g Green bean
Fiber 5.7g 2.7g Pea
Calcium 25mg 37mg Green bean
Iron 1.47mg 1.03mg Pea
Magnesium 33mg 25mg Pea
Phosphorus 108mg 38mg Pea
Potassium 244mg 211mg Pea
Sodium 5mg 6mg Pea
Zinc 1.24mg 0.24mg Pea
Copper 0.176mg 0.069mg Pea
Vitamin A 765IU 690IU Pea
Vitamin E 0.13mg 0.41mg Green bean
Vitamin D 0IU 0IU
Vitamin D 0µg 0µg
Vitamin C 40mg 12.2mg Pea
Vitamin B1 0.266mg 0.082mg Pea
Vitamin B2 0.132mg 0.104mg Pea
Vitamin B3 2.09mg 0.734mg Pea
Vitamin B5 0.104mg 0.225mg Green bean
Vitamin B6 0.169mg 0.141mg Pea
Folate 65µg 33µg Pea
Vitamin B12 0µg 0µg
Vitamin K 24.8µg 43µg Green bean
Tryptophan 0.037mg 0.019mg Pea
Threonine 0.203mg 0.079mg Pea
Isoleucine 0.195mg 0.066mg Pea
Leucine 0.323mg 0.112mg Pea
Lysine 0.317mg 0.088mg Pea
Methionine 0.082mg 0.022mg Pea
Phenylalanine 0.2mg 0.067mg Pea
Valine 0.235mg 0.09mg Pea
Histidine 0.107mg 0.034mg Pea
Cholesterol 0mg 0mg
Trans Fat 0g 0g
Saturated Fat 0.071g 0.05g Green bean
Monounsaturated Fat 0.035g 0.01g Pea
Polyunsaturated fat 0.187g 0.113g Pea

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Pea Green bean
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low glycemic index diet ok

People also compare

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

The summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfills human daily needs, the more the summary score is.
Vitamin Summary Score
39
Pea
27
Green bean
Mineral Summary Score
31
Pea
17
Green bean

Macronutrients Comparison

Macronutrient comparison charts compare the amount of protein, total fats, and total carbohydrates in 300 grams of the food. The displayed values show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of food.
Protein
33%
Pea
11%
Green bean
Carbohydrates
14%
Pea
7%
Green bean
Fats
2%
Pea
1%
Green bean

Comparison summary

Which food contains less Sodium?
Pea
Pea contains less Sodium (difference - 1mg)
Which food is cheaper?
Pea
Pea is cheaper (difference - $1.5)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Pea
Pea is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Pea
Pea is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food is lower in Sugar?
Green bean
Green bean is lower in Sugar (difference - 2.41g)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Green bean
Green bean is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.021g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Green bean
Green bean is lower in glycemic index (difference - 34)
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)
Chart reviewer photo Victoria Mazmanyan
The charts medically reviewed by: Victoria Mazmanyan
Education: General Medicine at YSMU
Last updated: April 27, 2021

References

The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links to the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Pea - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170419/nutrients
  2. Green bean - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169961/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.