With spring in our midst, I cannot wait to change up my vegetable rotation to include more seasonal veggies into my meals. One spring vegetable that is particularly beneficial for atheltes is peas.
Yes, vegetables in general are great for everyone, including athletes. But adding peas to your diet has a few performance benefits you might not get from other veggies.
- Peas are one of the few vegetables that contain protein (8 grams/cup), making them perfect for your post-workout dinner. They're an incomplete protein, so they cannot be your only source of protein; but if you eat meat, that will fill the void. If you're a vegetarian, make sure to eat a variety of vegetables, fruits and nuts, and you won't have any problems.
- Peas are in the middle of the glycemic index, meaning they have balanced mix of fast- and slow-digesting carbs. That makes them a great option to keep you full of energy throughout the day, especially leading up to a game.
- A cup of peas contains 9 grams of fiber. A diet high in fiber improves digestion and can aid in gut health, which plays an important role in nutrient absorption and a healthy immune system.
- Peas are loaded with vitamin C, which also helps keep your immune system healthy. Also, B vitamins allow your body to better use its energy sources for fuel.
- One cup of peas contains half the daily requirement for Vitamin K, helping to keep your bones strong.
As you can see, there are a number of reasons why peas are a great option for athletes. Incorporating them into your diet will improve your overall wellness and health. This is important because a sick or injured athlete will always underperform. Also, eating peas is a simple way to ensure your diet is adequately fueling your performance.
Here are some of my favorite recipes using peas:
Instead of always turning to the same boring salad, try using peas as a base to change up the texture and flavor. Athletes benefit from the carbohydrate and protein balance, and the mix-ins are endless.
I love the idea of using peas as a pesto base—not only for crostini but as a sandwich or chicken topper. It can help add some flavor and key nutrients to your meal.
This seems like the ideal side dish in a springtime meal, when hot, cooked vegetables are not as appealing. Keeping frozen peas on hand allows this to come together fast.
Such a great idea to add peas to pasta dishes to bulk up the protein content. Using them in the sauce also allows you to pack more nutrients and fiber into this dish.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock