Black-eyed peas are definitely good sources of complex carbohydrates. Just one cup supplies 26 percent of your recommended daily intake of total carbohydrates, which makes them a high source, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The same serving of black-eyed peas also provides at least 10 percent of your daily intake of 11 vitamins and minerals.
They’re called cowpeas, Southern peas and crowder peas, but regardless of the name, black-eyed peas are actually beans. Like other types of beans, they’re such good sources of protein, fiber and nutrients that they’re included in both the protein and vegetable food groups. One cup of cooked black-eyed peas has 160 calories and 1 gram of fat. They also supply 5 grams of protein, which is 9 percent of men’s and 11 percent of women’s recommended daily intake.
Two of the three different types of carbohydrates, the sugars and starches, have one primary job: providing the glucose your body uses for energy. While the cells throughout your body use glucose, your brain is especially dependent on a constant supply because it doesn’t store energy and it uses 60 to 70 percent of your daily carbohydrate intake. Your recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, is based on the minimum amount of glucose your brain needs: Adult men and women should consume 130 grams of carbohydrates daily. One cup of cooked black-eyed peas has 33.5 grams of carbohydrates, or 26 percent of your RDA.
Fiber consists of long chains of sugar molecules connected together in complex structures. Your body lacks the enzymes necessary to digest fiber, so the two types, soluble and insoluble, travel through your system intact. Insoluble fiber absorbs water and adds bulk to digestive wastes, which keeps stools moving through your system and prevents constipation. Soluble fiber slows down the rate at which food leaves your stomach, helping you feel full. It also lowers levels of cholesterol and prevents spikes in blood sugar. One cup of cooked black-eyed peas has 8 grams of fiber, or 22 percent of men’s and 33 percent of women’s recommended daily intake. About 90 percent of the total fiber is insoluble.
Sugar and Starch
Sugars of one or two molecules are digested and enter your bloodstream quickly. The result is a boost in energy as well as an unhealthy spike in blood sugar. Starches are complex carbohydrates that may have thousands of sugar molecules connected in chains. They digest slowly and don’t flood your bloodstream with sugar. One cup of cooked black-eyed peas has 5 grams of sugar and 20 grams of starch. Black-eyed peas have a glycemic index score of 33, which is low and indicates you can eat them without worrying about a rapid rise in blood sugar.
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Cowpeas (Blackeyes), Immature Seeds, Cooked, Boiled, Drained, Without Salt
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Appendix B - Additional Requirements for Nutrient Content Claims
- Cook’s Thesaurus: Dried Peas
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: Beans and Peas Are Unique Foods
- USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion: Carbohydrates
- Harvard Health Publications: Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load of 100+ Foods
- University of Washington: Fiber Facts
- MayoClinic.com: Glycemic Index Diet - What's Behind the Claims
Sandi Busch received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, then pursued training in nursing and nutrition. She taught families to plan and prepare special diets, worked as a therapeutic support specialist, and now writes about her favorite topics – nutrition, food, families and parenting – for hospitals and trade magazines.