Medicinal Herbs and ADHD


Tiny and Mighty: The Uncommon Properties of the Common Pea Vine

October 16, 2018 • 3 min read
BookmarkBookmark bookmark Share

Notice: Undefined variable: fbIcon in /home/ndc9e95/public_html/wp-content/themes/wholisticmatters/includes/functions.php on line 218

Unlike other pulses, all parts of the pea plant are edible (including the pea vine) and contain important nutrients and phytonutrients.

A common staple item found in most freezers across America, peas are among the most popular vegetables worldwide. Peas are technically legumes (pulses), along with beans and lentils, which have enjoyed a recent resurgence as more people appreciate the merits of a whole food, plant-focused diet.

Peas themselves usually get all the attention, but there are other parts of Pisum sativum that also offer health benefits. In fact, unlike other pulses, all parts of the pea plant are edible and contain important nutrients and phytonutrients. Aside from the peas, pea pods (known as pericarps) are also edible and delicious, as well as pea vines and their leaves. Often called pea shoots or pea tendrils, young pea vines are prized in the culinary world due to their grassy, pea-like flavor, and brief window of springtime availability.

Each part of the pea plant has its own mix of nutrients and health benefits, which is why it is worth taking a broader look at peas and the entire pea-yielding plant.


Peas are miniature marvels with features all their own. Their main phytonutrient is quercetin, an important flavonoid antioxidant. Despite being a legume, their nutritional profile is such that they can be incorporated into a “paleo” diet because they are lower in phytates and lectins than other legumes, high in fiber, and contain resistant starch that helps keep post-prandial blood sugar levels steady. But that is not all:

  • Peas are a great source of highly digestible protein and are high in glutamine, an important amino acid for gut health and muscle recovery.
  • Considered a methylation-supportive food, peas are high in folate, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and trace minerals.
  • Potassium and phosphorus found in peas also make it supportive of bone health.
  • The combination of peas’ resistant starch and fiber make it supportive of healthy blood sugar control and encourages a healthy glycemic response, making peas an appropriate starchy vegetable choice for people with diabetes.
  • Peas may also support digestive health and the intestinal microbiota by acting as a prebiotic. Eating peas may increase short chain fatty acid levels, which support gut barrier function, digestive health, and the immune system.1-2

Pea Pods

If you’ve ever enjoyed sugar snap or snow peas, both varieties of Pisum sativum, then you are familiar with pea pods, technically called the pericarp. Pea pods are high in antioxidants, including quercetin, tannins, flavonoids, and vitamin C, which offer our cells protection from oxidative damage. Interestingly, the mix of microbes in the soil where pea vines are grown influences the nutritional value of peas and pea pods, and can even increase the antioxidants and antioxidant activity in the plant. These antioxidants scavenge reactive oxidant species (ROS). When plants have improved ROS scavenging abilities, they are better able to protect themselves from pathogens and damaging environmental factors. They also provide better nutrition to the humans that eat them.3

Pea Vines and Leaves

Every part of the Pisum sativum plant is edible, and that includes the thin pea vines and pea leaves. Since the pea plant is a climbing vine, the majority of the plant itself is comprised of its vines and leaves.4 The leaves contain methionine, quercetin, and anthocyanins in amounts that differ from peas and pea pods, and anthocyanins in the pea plant are found only in the leaves. Interestingly, pea leaves also contain antifungal metabolites with biological activity against fungal pathogens.5 Pea vines and pea tendrils, the new offshoots of pea vine, are edible and nutritionally dense with many of the same nutrients found in green leafy vegetables, including beta carotene, folate, and fiber. The vines are also high in manganese, potassium, calcium, and zinc, as well as vitamins C, K, and A.6

With such a wide variety of pea parts to explore, it is certainly worth taking a second look at the common pea, as well as the rest of the pea-yielding plant.

Learn more.

Did you like this article?

  1. Hashemi, Z., Fouhse, J., Im, H.S., et. al. (2017, November 12). Dietary pea fiber supplementation improves glycemia and induces changes in the composition of gut microbiota, serum short chain fatty acid profile and expression of mucins in glucose intolerant rats. Nutrients; 9(11).
  2. Dahl, W.J., Foster, L.M., & Tyler, R.T. (2012). Review of the health benefits of peas (Pisum sativum L.). British Journal of Nutrition;108(S1):S3-S10.
  3. Jain, A.1., Singh, A., Chaudhary, A., et. al. (2014, October). Modulation of nutritional and antioxidant potential of seeds and pericarp of pea pods treated with microbial consortium. Food Res Int; 64:275-282.
  4. Hrazdina, G., Marx, G.A., & Hoch, H.C. (1982). Distribution of secondary plant metabolites and their biosynthetic enzymes in pea (Pisum sativum L.) ;eaves : anthocyanins and flavonol glycosides. Plant Physiology; 70(3):745-748.
  5. Bahadur, A. & Sarma, B., & Singh, U. (2009). Water soluble antifungal metabolites of pea (Pisum Sativum) leaves determine infection by erysiphe pisi. Journal of Plant Protection Research. 49. 10.2478/v10045-009-0032-2.
  6. Miles, C.A., O’Dea, J., Daniels, C.H., et. al. (n.d.) Pea shoots. Pacific Northwest Extension. Retrieved from,

Scientifically driven. Education focused. Healing Inspired.

Subscribe to Insights

Receive clinically driven nutrition insights you can trust.

Animated Newsletter WM

Join Our Community to Read Further

This is a premium article created for our Healthcare Practitioner readers. Create a free account to continue reading and gain full access.



WholisticMatters offers health care practitioners and nutrition enthusiasts alike the opportunity to create a free profile for access to site features like bookmarking. Enjoying an article you are reading or a video you are watching? Save it to come back to later! Sign up in seconds for continuous access to all that WholisticMatters has to offer.

WholisticMatters also offers health care practitioners who create a free user profile access to exclusive content and tools to utilize in clinical practice. Articles, tools, and downloads created specifically for practitioners to use in their office for better patient education in clinical nutrition and health. Sign up today with your email and credentials so we can confirm you as a health care practitioner, and you are free to peruse the resources unique to you and your colleagues in health.


Create Your Account:

show-pass Please use 8 or more characters with a mix of letters, numbers & symbols

Create a free account to use our great bookmarking tool

Once your account is created, you'll be able to save and organize what matters to you!

Already have an Account? Login Here

Click 'Sign Up' above to accept Wholistic Matters's Terms of Service & Privacy Policy.

Are you a Healthcare Professional? Sign Up For Free Access!

We'll verify your credentials and get you access to our great interactive tools.

Already have an Account? Login Here

Click 'Sign Up' above to accept Wholistic Matters's Terms of Service & Privacy Policy.