A member of the legume family, peas are typically part of a healthy meal plan. However, when you’re on the keto diet, things may be a bit different.
Below, we examine everything you need to know about eating peas and the keto diet.
FAQs About Peas and the Keto Diet
Let’s start with the basics — the most frequently asked questions about eating peas on the keto diet.
Q: Are peas keto-friendly?
A: Unfortunately, there isn’t a straight answer to this question. Generally speaking, legumes of all kinds are not keto-friendly, and peas are legumes. Still, there are many different types of peas, and some are better than others when it comes to carbs, protein, and fat.
The legume family includes the seeds or fruits of legume fruits, which can be defined as fruits that are pods. The edible part of these pods are the seeds. Peas, beans, lentils, alfalfa, tamarind, and peanuts are all legumes.
It’s important to note again here that most legumes aren’t keto-friendly. They simply have too many carbs and not enough protein. And remember that, botanically-speaking, peas (and all legumes) are fruits. That’s because they have seeds and come from flowers’ ovaries — much like apples come from apple blossom flowers and also contain seeds. Fruits, as you likely know, are also not keto-friendly because they are high-carb and can prevent ketosis.
With all of this said, some peas are okay to eat on the keto diet. Green peas, for example, have a rather high number of net carbs, but sugar snap peas, on the other hand, have fewer grams of net carbs.
Naturally, it also depends on how many peas you’re consuming. If you do decide to have a few green peas in a keto-friendly dish, don’t worry — you’re not going to thwart all of your diet efforts because of this. But if you’re craving a large bowl of only green peas, it’s likely you’ll be setting yourself back in terms of carbs vs. protein consumed and ketosis.
Q: Why are some peas allowed on keto but other peas aren’t?
A: Again, not all peas are created equal. Sugar snap peas are relatively low carb while chickpeas and other peas have high numbers of net carbs.
Q: Why are peas generally better for keto than beans?
A: Because the keto diet aims to facilitate the consumption of a low-carb, high-protein, and relatively high-fat diet, foods like beans simply don’t fit.
Again, beans are a part of the legume family and are certainly a healthy food. On the other hand, they have quite a high number of carbs in them — and that goes for most all types of beans, from kidney and navy beans to pinto and black beans.
Many people mistake beans for a keto-friendly food because of their high protein content. Indeed, beans do have high protein content. However, this is again overridden by their high levels of total carbs.
Peas, on the other hand, have more wiggle room. Unlike beans, they are not all “off limits” when it comes to keto — especially peas like sugar snap peas and snow peas.
Q: Are there alternatives to peas on the keto diet?
A: Yes, certainly. Many recipes call for peas, but if it’s a type of pea that isn’t recommended on keto, you can usually find a suitable substitute or alternative.
If your salad calls for chickpeas, for example, you might substitute another topping such as a hard-boiled egg or cheese. If your tuna salad usually includes green peas, you might consider diced green bell peppers instead.
If you’d like to have peas as a dish on their own, on the other hand, remember that although some peas like snow and sugar snap peas are generally okay on keto, they are only okay in moderation. Therefore, a side dish of peas only might be too much. In this case, if you’d like to replace this type of side dish with another vegetable that’s more keto-friendly, you could try broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, or even green beans.
Peas Nutritional Information
Here’s a brief rundown of the various types of peas and their nutritional content:
4g dietary fiber
Green Peas (100g)
4.4g dietary fiber
Snow Peas (100g)
2.4g dietary fiber
Black-Eyed Peas (100g)
9.5g dietary fiber
Sugar Snap Peas (100g)
2.4g dietary fiber
Primary Health Benefits of Peas
Nearly all veggies and fruits are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals. The key is locating which veggies and fruits provide which vitamins and minerals.
On a keto diet, you’ll want to get as many nutrients from your food as possible. While supplements can be helpful in some cases, it’s almost always a better idea to reconstitute your meal plan if you think you’re not getting enough of certain vitamins and minerals in your diet.
In the case of most types of peas, the top benefits are as follows:
- Great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K as well as thiamine
- Strong source of folate (folic acid), which is important for expectant moms
- Strong source of protein, which can be helpful at reducing your appetite and regulating weight loss
- Strong source of fiber, which is important for healthy gastrointestinal function
- Because of the high levels of vitamin C, folate (folic acid), and vitamin B6 found in peas, they can also help with inflammation throughout the body
Reasons to Moderate Peas in Your Diet
Generally speaking, peas are considered “starchy vegetables,” along with other veggies like parsnips and yams. In fact, most root vegetables are starchy vegetables, which means that they’re not low-carb or high protein and, therefore, not consistent with the goals of the ketogenic diet.
Essentially a form of low-carb diet, the ketogenic diet only permits low carb vegetables. That is, it permits only those veggies (and fruits) with low carb counts:
- Bell peppers
- Leafy greens (arugula, kale, and Swiss chard, etc.)
- Brussels sprouts
- Cauliflower and broccoli
Alternates to Peas on Keto
While peas may not be the ideal food for a ketogenic diet, remember that you can usually find keto-friendly substitutes and alternatives for most recipes that call for peas: green beans or Brussels sprouts for green peas in soup, broccoli or cauliflower for snow peas in stir-fry, celery sticks or bell peppers for sugar snap peas as a healthy snack, and so on.
Are Some Peas Better Than Others?
In a word, yes. When it comes to the keto diet, you’ll often find that two vegetables in the same family may have totally different effects on the body. This is definitely true for peas. Certain types of peas are more beneficial than others.
Below, we go over six of the main types of peas and how they affect the body where ketosis is concerned.
Chickpeas or garbanzo beans are certainly high in protein, and if you’re a vegetarian, they can make a great substitution for meat in a lot of dishes. Unfortunately, chickpeas have a lot of carbs, so they should be used sparingly, if at all.
Green peas are generally low in calories and relatively low in carbs. They do have a small amount of fat and some protein. They are a significant source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K as well as folate and thiamine.
Snow peas are also referred to as Chinese pea pods. These peas are rich in fiber and a great source of the B vitamins as well as vitamin K, potassium, and iron. They have significantly fewer carbs than most other types of peas.
Black-eyed peas are fiber-rich and great for the heart because of how they contribute to healthier blood cholesterol levels. On the other hand, they do have a significant amount of carbs and should, therefore, be eaten sparingly while on keto.
Sugar snap peas are actually a manufactured type of pea — created from a combination of the traditional garden pea and the snow pea. These juicy veggies are low in calories, protein, and carbs, with 0g of fat. Like snow peas, sugar snap peas have significantly fewer carbs than most other types of peas.
Foods like peas can be confusing for keto dieters. That’s because peas are technically extremely healthy. Their only problem is that they’re too high-carb to be eaten without limits.
When you’re on a keto diet, remember to always dissect your favorite recipes in order to identify the specific ingredients that aren’t keto-friendly. It’s the best way to catch yourself from eating non-keto foods like peas and to maintain your keto diet and continue benefitting from its positive health effects.
Author: Faye C.
Faye is a guest contributor for SuperFat who writers professionally in the health and nutrition space.