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Pea vs. Pigeon pea — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Sveta Badalyan by Sveta Badalyan | Last updated on December 22, 2023
Medically reviewed by Elen Khachatrian Article author photo Elen Khachatrian
Pea
vs
Pigeon pea

Summary

Pigeon pea has more magnesium, potassium, calcium, selenium, sodium, folate, and calories. Moreover, pigeon peas have higher protein, net carbs, dietary fiber, and polyunsaturated fats. In contrast, peas contain more monounsaturated fats, manganese, iron, zinc, choline, and vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B3, B6, Kand E. Peas have less saturated fats, whereas pigeon peas have fewer GI

Introduction

Cooked peas and cooked pigeon peas are the types used in this article. We will compare their health benefits and nutritional content.

Pigeon pea is also known as no-eye pea, toor dal, gungo pea, or congo pea. Peas are also known as garden peas or field peas.

Nutrition

Here, you can find nutritional information for 100g of peas and pigeon peas. 

Macronutrients and Calories

Pigeon peas are high in all macronutrients. Pigeon pea is denser compared to pea. Pea contains 78% water, whereas pigeon pea has 68.5% water.

Macronutrient Comparison

Macronutrient breakdown side-by-side comparison
Pea
1
:
Contains more Water +13.6%
Contains more Protein +26.1%
Contains more Fats +72.7%
Contains more Carbs +48.8%
Contains more Other +15.2%
5% 16% 78%
Protein: 5.36 g
Fats: 0.22 g
Carbs: 15.63 g
Water: 77.87 g
Other: 0.92 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 Water +13.6%
Contains more Protein +26.1%
Contains more Fats +72.7%
Contains more Carbs +48.8%
Contains more Other +15.2%

Calories

Pigeon peas have more calories than green peas. A hundred grams of pea provides 84 calories, whereas a pigeon pea has 121 calories

One serving of peas (1 cup or 160g) has 134 kcal, whereas one serving of pigeon peas (1 cup or 168g) provides 203 kcal

Protein

Compared to green peas, pigeon peas have more protein. A hundred grams of peas have 5.36g of protein, whereas pigeon peas provide 6.76g.

Pea and pigeon peas contain all essential amino acids. Pigeon pea is higher in all of them except for methionine.

Fats

Pea and pigeon peas contain less than 0.5g of fat per 100 grams. Pea provides only 0.22g of fats, whereas pigeon pea provides 0.38g. Moreover, pigeon peas contain more polyunsaturated fats, whereas peas provide more monounsaturated and less saturated fats.

Fat Type Comparison

Fat type breakdown side-by-side comparison
Pea
2
:
Contains less Saturated Fat -53%
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +533.3%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +101%
24% 12% 64%
Saturated Fat: 0.039 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.019 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.102 g
29% 70%
Saturated Fat: 0.083 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.003 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.205 g
Contains less Saturated Fat -53%
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +533.3%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +101%

Carbohydrates

Pigeon pea is the winner in carb content.

100g of pigeon pea contains 23.25g of carbohydrates, of which 6.7g are dietary fiber and 16.55g are net carbs.

100g of pea contains 15.63g of carbohydrates, of which 5.5g are dietary fiber and 10.13g are net carbs.

Carbohydrate type comparison

Carbohydrate type breakdown side-by-side comparison
Pea
4
:
88% 2% 7% 3%
Starch: 0 g
Sucrose: 5.22 g
Glucose: 0.13 g
Fructose: 0.41 g
Lactose: 0 g
Maltose: 0.18 g
Galactose: 0 g

Vitamins

Pea has significantly more vitamin A (over 267 times more) and vitamin B5 (over 480 times more). A hundred grams of pea provides 801IU of vitamin A, whereas pigeon pea has only 3IU. In a 100g serving, peas and pigeon peas have 153mg and 0.319mg of vitamin B5, respectively. 

Pea also provides over four times more vitamin B6, 2.5 times more B2 (riboflavin), and 2.8 times more B3 (niacin). In addition, peas are high in vitamins B1 (thiamine), E, and K. Peas provide 14.2 mg of vitamin C, whereas pigeon peas lack vitamin C. In contrast, pigeon pea has over 1.7 times more folate. In a 100g serving, peas and pigeon peas have 63µg and 111µg of folate, respectively.

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.
Pea
10
:
Contains more Vitamin A +26600%
Contains more Vitamin C +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +77.4%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +152.5%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +158.8%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +47862.4%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +332%
Contains more Folate +76.2%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 49% 3% 0% 48% 65% 35% 38% 9180% 50% 48% 0% 17% 65%
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 A +26600%
Contains more Vitamin C +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +77.4%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +152.5%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +158.8%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +47862.4%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +332%
Contains more Folate +76.2%

Minerals

Pigeon pea has more magnesium, copper, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and selenium. On the other hand, pea has higher choline, manganese, iron, and zinc. Moreover, pea has less sodium content.

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.
Pea
4
:
Contains more Iron +38.7%
Contains less Sodium -40%
Contains more Zinc +32.2%
Contains more Calcium +59.3%
Contains more Magnesium +17.9%
Contains more Potassium +41.7%
Contains more Copper +55.5%
Contains more Selenium +52.6%
Equal in Phosphorus - 119
Equal in Manganese - 0.501
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 9% 58% 28% 51% 24% 1% 33% 58% 69% 11%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 13% 42% 33% 51% 34% 1% 25% 90% 66% 16%
Contains more Iron +38.7%
Contains less Sodium -40%
Contains more Zinc +32.2%
Contains more Calcium +59.3%
Contains more Magnesium +17.9%
Contains more Potassium +41.7%
Contains more Copper +55.5%
Contains more Selenium +52.6%
Equal in Phosphorus - 119
Equal in Manganese - 0.501

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index of peas is equal to 54Pigeon pea has a glycemic index of 22.

As we can see, peas tend to have a higher glycemic index than pigeon peas. However, the glycemic index of both falls in the low category.

Insulin Index

While there is no specific insulin index value for pigeon peas, pea has an insulin index of 37

Acidity

The potential renal acid load (PRAL) is an approach to assess the acidity of a food. The PRAL number indicates the food's capacity to degrade into acids or bases within the body. The PRAL value of a pea is -0.1, while the pigeon pea has a PRAL level of -2.1. Both are considered alkaline-forming.

Weight Loss & Diets

Vegan: Peas and pigeon peas are vegan because they are made entirely of plants and do not contain any animal ingredients.

Vegetarian: Vegetarians avoid all animal products. Peas and pigeon peas are vegetarian foods.

Paleo: Eating natural, unprocessed foods and staying away from processed foods are the main goals of the paleo diet. Peas and pigeon peas are considered legumes. Because legumes were not an essential component of the hunter-gatherer diet and because of their possible antinutrient content, peas and pigeon peas are not paleo-friendly.

Keto: The keto diet includes low-carb, high-fat, and high-protein foods. 

Peas and pigeon peas have a comparatively high carbohydrate content. Because of this, they are often not advised for the more stringent variations of the ketogenic diet.

Mediterranean: The Mediterranean diet places a strong emphasis on eating lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and healthy fats. It also calls for eating little to no red meat and only modest amounts of fish and chicken. Peas and pigeon peas can be part of this diet.

DASH: The DASH diet emphasizes nutrient-dense foods such as legumes, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and fruits. The nutritious content of peas and pigeon peas makes them excellent complements to this diet plan.

Health Benefits

Antiinflammatory Properties

Peas and pigeon peas provide bioactive compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities (1).

According to the study, ethanol extract and cyanidin-3-monoglucoside of pigeon peas may inhibit the production of inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-, IL-1, and IL-6 (2). 

Neuroprotective Properties

Pea provide 480 times more vitamin B5. According to the study, cerebral vitamin B5 deficiency may produce neurodegeneration and dementia in Alzheimer's disease, which may be prevented or even reversible in its early stages by therapy with oral dosages of vitamin B5 adequate to restore brain levels (3).

On the other hand, pigeon peas are high in folate. The nutritional status of a mother's folate is linked to the occurrence of neural tube abnormalities (NTDs) in her children. It is essential to include folate in the diet. To lower the incidence of NTDs during the periconceptional stage, you may take folic acid (a synthetic version of folate) as a supplement (4). 

Anticancer Properties

Cajanol, an isoflavone found in pigeon peas, is being studied for its possible anticancer activities against MCF-7 human breast cancer cells. 

The results showed that Cajanol was effective in inhibiting the growth of MCF-7 cells, and this effect was dependent on both the dosage and the duration of exposure. Moreover, the study suggests that Cajanol may induce apoptosis in cancer cells by targeting several key signaling pathways involved in this process (5).

Peas contain some active phytochemical substances (lectins, flavonoids), which may have anticancer properties.

Several investigations have shown that lectins have cytotoxic or tumor-inhibitory effects in several tumor cell lines, including skin, liver, bile duct, and bone cell lines (6).

Downsides and Risks

Peas and pigeon peas contain antinutritive agents that may hinder nutrient absorption. Pea provides antinutrient agents like phytic acid, lectins, and trypsin inhibitors (1,7). 

Pigeon peas include antinutritional agents such as protease and amylase inhibitors, phytoalexins, polyphenols, and oligosaccharides (8). 

Classification

Peas and pigeon peas are legumes, although they come from different genera and species.

Peas and pigeon peas belong to the family Fabaceae. Pea(Pisum sativum) belongs to the genus Pisum and the species sativum. The pigeon pea (Cajanus Cajan) belongs to the genus Cajanus and Cajan species.

Peas originated in Central Asia, the Near East, Ethiopia, and the Mediterranean region. Pigeon peas come from South Asia, most precisely in eastern India. 

Appearance

Peas are small, smooth, and round. Usually, they can be found canned, frozen, or in their fresh form in the pod. Peas are generally similar in size, ranging from 0.25 to 0.5 inches (0.6 to 1.3 cm) in diameter. Fresh peas are usually green, but there are also yellow and purple kinds. Dried or processed peas retain their unique green hue.

Pigeon peas are larger, elongated, and more oval-shaped than green peas. They might be pale yellow to dark brown in hue. Their hue varies depending on the variety and stage of maturity. They are typically available dry or canned. Pigeon peas can range in length from 0.25 to 0.5 inches (0.6 to 1.3 cm).

Taste and Use

Peas have a sweet and somewhat starchy flavor. Fresh peas have a delicate sweetness with a crisp, juicy texture. Cooked peas are a flexible complement to a broad range of meals since they soften and keep some of their natural sweetness. Peas have a moderate flavor and are excellent for salads, soups, stir-fries, and casseroles

The flavor of pigeon peas is slightly earthy and nutty. Cooked pigeon peas retain their firm structure and nutty flavor, giving meals a robust depth. Since pigeon peas have a unique taste and texture, they are frequently used to make hearty and filling dishes. Pigeon peas are a popular choice for soups, stews, and rice dishes across many cultures because of their taste profile, which goes well with a wide range of savory components. 

Article author photo Sveta Badalyan
Education: General Medicine at YSMU
Last updated: December 22, 2023
Medically reviewed by Elen Khachatrian

Infographic

Pea 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.
Pea Pigeon pea
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Glycemic Index ok
Rich in minerals ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in price ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Pea Pigeon pea Opinion
Net carbs 10.13g 16.55g Pigeon pea
Protein 5.36g 6.76g Pigeon pea
Fats 0.22g 0.38g Pigeon pea
Carbs 15.63g 23.25g Pigeon pea
Calories 84kcal 121kcal Pigeon pea
Fructose 0.41g Pea
Sugar 5.93g Pigeon pea
Fiber 5.5g 6.7g Pigeon pea
Calcium 27mg 43mg Pigeon pea
Iron 1.54mg 1.11mg Pea
Magnesium 39mg 46mg Pigeon pea
Phosphorus 117mg 119mg Pigeon pea
Potassium 271mg 384mg Pigeon pea
Sodium 3mg 5mg Pea
Zinc 1.19mg 0.9mg Pea
Copper 0.173mg 0.269mg Pigeon pea
Manganese 0.525mg 0.501mg Pea
Selenium 1.9µg 2.9µg Pigeon pea
Vitamin A 801IU 3IU Pea
Vitamin A RAE 40µg 0µg Pea
Vitamin E 0.14mg Pea
Vitamin C 14.2mg 0mg Pea
Vitamin B1 0.259mg 0.146mg Pea
Vitamin B2 0.149mg 0.059mg Pea
Vitamin B3 2.021mg 0.781mg Pea
Vitamin B5 153mg 0.319mg Pea
Vitamin B6 0.216mg 0.05mg Pea
Folate 63µg 111µg Pigeon pea
Choline 29.7mg Pea
Vitamin K 25.9µg Pea
Tryptophan 0.037mg 0.066mg Pigeon pea
Threonine 0.201mg 0.239mg Pigeon pea
Isoleucine 0.193mg 0.245mg Pigeon pea
Leucine 0.32mg 0.483mg Pigeon pea
Lysine 0.314mg 0.474mg Pigeon pea
Methionine 0.081mg 0.076mg Pea
Phenylalanine 0.198mg 0.579mg Pigeon pea
Valine 0.232mg 0.292mg Pigeon pea
Histidine 0.105mg 0.241mg Pigeon pea
Saturated Fat 0.039g 0.083g Pea
Monounsaturated Fat 0.019g 0.003g Pea
Polyunsaturated fat 0.102g 0.205g Pigeon pea

Which food is preferable for your diet?

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

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
738%
Pea
14%
Pigeon pea
Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
34%
Pea
37%
Pigeon pea

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Sugar?
Pigeon pea
Pigeon pea is lower in Sugar (difference - 5.93g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Pigeon pea
Pigeon pea is lower in glycemic index (difference - 32)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Pigeon pea
Pigeon pea is relatively richer in minerals
Which food contains less Sodium?
Pea
Pea contains less Sodium (difference - 2mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Pea
Pea is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.044g)
Which food is cheaper?
Pea
Pea is cheaper (difference - $0.7)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Pea
Pea is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)

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. Pea - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170420/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.