What is Pigeon Pea?
Pigeon pea is scientifically known as Cajanus cajan. It is also known as red gram and is one of the most beneficial peas in the lentils family. In Indian and Indonesian cuisine, pigeon pea is one of the famous ingredients. Small and oval lentils come in a variety of colors such as yellow and brown, etc. Pigeon peas are used for a variety of purposes, such as fodder for air pressure, a canopy crop or food for livestock.
When compared to other legumes, pigeon peas are one of the great sources of protein. As it contains low fat and high fiber as well as minerals, it is the healthiest choice for your diet. It plays an essential role for enhancing your health. The extraordinary taste of these peas is another reason for its importance.
Pigeon pea is an erect, glandular-pubescent, short-lived, and perennial shrub. It can grow 1 to 2 m high as well as its ribbed stem diameter is 15 cm. Its leaves are trifoliate, and it comes with dark green color. Then its flowers come in yellow and red colors as well as the diameter of the flower is 1.2 cm – 1.7 cm. The shape of the pods is linear-oblong, green or red, 2–13 cm long, and 0.5–1.7 cm wide. Each pod has nine seeds, subglobose – elliptical or square with a diameter of 5 mm. Seeds come in white, cream, brown, purple to black.
Health Benefits of Pigeon Peas
For centuries, these pigeon peas have gained a name as a healthy food. It is the best source of protein and minerals and can be considered as the ultimate energy food. It includes various unique health benefits.
Pigeon peas are rich in magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, and potassium. Apart from that, it has low copper, zinc, and magnesium ,it also gives enough iron and selenium. Flattened pods are a significant source of pulses in India. Listed below are some well-known benefits of pigeon peas:
1 Deters Anemia
Anemia is one of the most common afflictions in tropical and developing countries. Generally, Pigeon pea is rich in folate content that helps to prevent anemia. We don’t have enough folate in our body so that it is required. The lack of folate may lead to anemia and certain neural tube defects in unborn children. You can overcome it by adding pigeon peas to your everyday diet. Consuming a cup of pigeon peas every day can prevent you from the onset of anemia.
2 Balance Blood Pressure Level
Potassium is one of the main minerals in pigeon peas, which acts as a vasodilator, lowers blood constriction as well as lowers blood pressure. The perfect amount of potassium helps control your blood pressure levels. People suffering from high blood pressure or hypertension can consume pigeon peas in their daily diet because they are prone to heart disease, it also removes any blood vessel blockage.
3 Enhance Growth and Development
The reason is that pigeon peas have become a crucial part of the diet around the world because of their rich protein content. One cup of cooked pigeon pea includes 11 grams of protein, which is essential for normal growth and development. It builds everything from cells and tissues to muscles and bones. Moreover, it can provide healing and generating cells throughout the body.
4 Has Anti-inflammatory Properties
One of the best health benefits of the pigeon pea is the presence of anti-inflammatory properties. Each part of the pigeon pea g including leaves, seeds, and peas has been used to treat inflammatory issues. In addition, its organic compounds can decrease the swelling and inflammation of your body. To treat piles, smash the pigeon peas like a paste and apply it. It is one of the famous traditional treatments for piles, popularly called as hemorrhoids.
5 Helps to Reduce Weight
Pigeon peas come with a low amount of calorie, saturated fats, and cholesterol. Its fiber content keeps the stomach full for a long time, thus avoiding regular meals or snacks. Nutrition content can increase your metabolism and reduce the possibilities of weight gain. Moreover, they are transformed into good energy rather than stored as fat.
6 Enhance Energy
Since the Pigeon peas are a great source of vitamin B, riboflavin, and niacin, these elements increase the carbohydrate metabolism and prevent the storage of unwanted fat, thus increasing your energy levels. It can boost your energy level without increasing your weight. It is ideal for people living in dry climates, doing physically demanding jobs, or dealing with unusual weather conditions.
7 Aids Immune System
We know that legumes are more beneficial for health when consumed raw, compared to cooked ones. This concept also applies to pigeon peas because the raw legumes contain more nutrients than cooked ones.
Consuming the raw pigeon peas can provide enough vitamin C to your body. Thus improves your immune system by stimulating the production of white cells and acts as an antioxidant. Thus, incorporation of the legume in your diet can increase your overall wellness and immunity.
8 Supports Digestive Health
The high fiber content of pigeon peas plays an essential role in supporting your digestive health. Fiber content improves the absorption and digestion of nutrients and decreases inflammation. In addition, it can facilitate bowel movements. Consuming pigeon peas every day can reduce the risk of bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and muscle cramps.
9 Maintains Your Heart Health
Legumes are low in fat and high in potassium so by including them in the diet enhances your heart’s health. LDL in pigeon peas provides low-fat vitamins without causing the growth of saturated fat. The potassium content of the pigeon peas can lower your blood pressure and reduce the risks of any strain. Similarly, dietary fiber keeps the cholesterol in the right level and prevents you from atherosclerosis.
10. Eases Menstrual Disorders
As we mentioned before, fiber content is very beneficial for your health. If you are affected by the menstrual disorders, pigeon peas is the perfect traditional medicine for you. Consuming pigeon peas can decrease cramps and resultant pain. Moreover, it can regulate your periods regularly.
Traditional Uses of Pigeon Peas
Each part of the pigeon peas can give many health and traditional benefits to you.
It is used as valerian to treat wounds and ulcers, in Ayurveda medicine.
Pigeon peas are also used as a sedative to stop bleeding.
It can treat lungs and chest disorders.
Pigeon peas have the ability to excrete the internal parasitic worms.
Nigeria people, use the pigeon peas leaves as a medicine.
The traditional primary use of these peas is it can treat diabetics. It is used as a medicine for those who are suffering from diabetes in Panamanian folk medicine.
To treat jaundice, cough, and bronchitis, you can use it.
The leaves’ decoction can cure cough, abdominal pain, and diarrhea in Malay traditional medicine.
Take some leaves and extract the juice. Use it for earache, herpes, and sores.
Its roots act as an anesthetic, expectorant, anthelmintic, and vulnerable.
Especially in China, these roots are very famous. In addition, it can cure throat inflammation, diarrhea, and chlorosis.
In the Philippines, a decoction made from the leaves is effective for diarrhea, cough, and abdominal pain.
In the states of South India and Maharashtra, pure split pigeon pea paste is used to fill sweet stuffed bread (Puran Poli) recipe.
In West Africa, Pigeon peas are the most preferred legumes. Fiofio with taro (cocoyam) recipe is a traditional dip served with rice.
The raw green pigeon pea is used in rice-pilaf preparation, also known as kungo peas in Jamaica.
Arahar ki is a popular recipe served with flatbreads / rice, in India and Pakistan.
How to Eat
Pigeon peas are used as lentils in India. Its seeds are used to make tempeh or tofu in other parts of Asia.
In Africa, dried seeds with rice, cassava, and yam are used in sauces.
You can eat the young seeds and pods or add them into soups as vegetables.
Pigeon pea seeds are canned and frozen, in Central America.
The seeds are used as flour dried peas.
In India, seeds are used as pulses, and young fruits are used to make one of the famous dishes named sambar in Tamil.
In Southeast Asia and the Pacific, fresh pods, young shoots, and seeds are used as vegetables, spicy soups, and other side meals.
In Indonesia and Ethiopia, young fruits and leaves are added to different dishes.
The ripe seeds are roasted and eaten.
In Puerto Rican, green pigeon peas with rice are considered as one of the main traditional dishes.
Selection and Storage
Like other peas, raw pigeon pea, and its mature green seeds can be used as a vegetable. In South Asia and Africa, whole dried or split seeds are used as legumes.
Select cleaned, dried, whole, or split peas packed in pots or bags. Avoid pest-damaged, broken, mold-broken seeds. Check if the packet is damaged or not.
Store dried pigeon peas in plastic / steel containers away from moisture and heat. Whole seeds can be kept well for many months if stored in airtight pots.
You can store the raw, green pigeon peas in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days, and shell peas can be used as vegetables. Do not freeze the whole pod deep as it will retain the cold sore.
Nutrient Facts of Pigeon peas
Green pigeon peas can increase the metabolism of your body. It comes with an array of B-complex vitamins that help your body turn fat, protein, and carbohydrates into energy. Every cooked cup of pigeon peas contain half thiamin and one-fourth of the riboflavin and niacin that you need each day.
Moreover, it has 36 percent of your daily requirement for folate and 6 percent for vitamin B-6. While pigeon peas are cooked, some of their water-soluble nutrients are depleted. For this reason, one cup raw pigeon peas offer nearly twice as much folate as its cooked counterpart, giving you 63 percent of your recommended daily consumption for that B vitamin.
Calories, Fat, Protein, and Fiber
Pigeon peas are average in calories and high in nutrients. Every cup of cooked pigeon peas contains 209 calories, 11 grams of protein, 2.5 grams of fat, and 8 grams of fiber. If you plan to reduce weight or boost fiber consumption, then consume the raw Pigeon peas every day. You will get more benefits from it.
Vitamins C and K
Vitamin C is an essential antioxidant that is very beneficial to your immune system. One medical institute suggests that men gain 90 milligrams of vitamin C a day, as well as for women, it is 75 milligrams. One cup of cooked pigeon peas contains 43 milligrams of vitamin C; it is a water-soluble nutrient. As well as one cup of raw pigeon peas is rich in vitamin C, at 60 milligrams. Moreover, it is high in vitamin K that helps to assure the right blood clotting and prevent you from various bleeding disorders. By consuming raw or cooked pigeon pea, you will get more than 100 percent of vitamin K. It is enough for your everyday needs.
One cup of cooked pigeon pea offers 1/4 of bone-building phosphorus and 1/5 of magnesium. Phosphorous is helping to build your bones, as well as magnesium, protect your muscle and nerve system. It provides about one-third of the iron needed by men and one-tenth of the daily requirement of zinc.
Generally, a woman requires high iron and low zinc; this pigeon pea gives 13 percent iron and 15 percent zinc every day. By consuming potassium every day, you will get one-seventh of the potassium with 698 milligrams of this nutrient. It helps you to keep your body with healthy water content. Cooking pigeon peas reduces some potassium, but one cup of raw pigeon peas gives 850 mg of potassium.
Nutritional Values of Pigeon Peas
One hundred grams of Pigeon Peas contain 343 kcal. It also contain the following,
Is it good to consume the Pigeon peas during pregnancy?
Yes, Pigeon peas are very safe for pregnant women. As mentioned earlier, it is high in folic acid, which is used for fetal development and can stop the neural tube defects such as spina bifida in newborn babies. Moreover, pigeon peas are high in calcium content that is used for bone and teeth development to the unborn baby. Its fiber stops constipation, which is one of the biggest problems for mothers.
Consuming pigeon peas doesn’t make any adverse effects on your body. Some reports showed that it can cause some side effects. If you are allergic to legumes, consult your doctor before consuming the pigeon peas.