Splits peas have several qualities that support weight loss.
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Some foods definitely have an advantage when it comes to supporting your weight-loss efforts. Split peas belong in that category. Thanks to their fiber and fat-free protein, even a small portion of split peas is filling. They're packed with energy-providing complex carbohydrates and help maintain nutrition when you're cutting calories by providing iron, potassium and folate.
Low Energy Density
Energy density refers to the calories in a specific weight of food. Low-energy-dense foods have fewer calories per gram, so you can eat a normal portion and feel full while consuming fewer calories. Split peas contain a significant amount of water, which helps create low energy density by contributing volume without calories. One-half cup of boiled split peas has 116 calories. When those calories are divided by the portion's weight of 98 grams, the resulting energy density score is 1.2. A score of 1.5 or less indicates low energy density, according to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
High in Fiber
Fiber contributes to low energy density by adding volume, but it has other qualities that help you lose weight. It slows down the rate at which food leaves your stomach, so you feel full sooner and it's easier to eat less. Fiber may also delay the release of a hormone called ghrelin that stimulates the feeling of hunger. Increasing the amount of fiber in your diet is associated with weight loss. You'll get 8 grams of fiber from 1/2 cup of boiled split peas, or 32 percent of women's and 21 percent of men's recommended daily intake.
A Source of Protein
Split peas are a good source of protein without excess fat and calories. Protein has a similar quality to fiber that further supports your weight-loss efforts: It promotes satiety by slowing down the movement of food out of your stomach and may also help you feel full longer. When protein is digested, it temporarily raises your basal metabolism more than carbohydrates or fats, which means it burns more calories than the other macronutrients. One-half cup of boiled split peas supplies 8 grams of protein, or 17 percent of women's and 14 percent of men's recommended daily allowance.
Healthy Serving Tips
Since they're both healthy and hearty, split peas are the basis for deliciously soul-warming soups. Combine 'em with a low sodium broth, some chopped reduced-sodium ham, carrots, celery and onions, then cook and puree for a filling soup. Alternatively, use split peas in place of chickpeas in hummus, or add a handful to your favorite salad.