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Short Answer:

No, Peas are not Paleo!
are peas paleo

Legumes: Overview

What are Legumes?

Another type of food that is prohibited in the Paleo diet is legumes. Legume is primarily the fruit or seed of a plant that are grown agriculturally because of their grain seed. It is a dry fruit contained within a shed or pod. Popular legumes include beans, peas, soybeans, peanuts, tamarinds, clover and alfalfa.

Legumes are high in protein and are good for non-meat eaters. They are good sources of minerals like iron, magnesium, potassium, calcium, zinc and fiber.

Why Legumes are Not Paleo?

Legumes such as peas are not Paleo because of its phytates and lectins contents which have been introduced in our previous posts. Phytates bind with food minerals preventing them to be utilized by the body. Lectins on the other hand binds with protein that causes indigestion that can lead to leaky gut syndrome which is a condition where the intestinal lining is broken down, allowing toxins and anti-nutrients to leak into the blood stream.

Saponins are also present in legumes. Saponins are antinuntrients found in almost all legumes. They have a soap-like property that damages the membrane lining of all cells. Because the effect of saponin is directly proportional to the quantity, the more saponin is consumed, the greater damage it can cause.

Almost all legumes contain protease inhibitors. Protease is an enzyme in the intestines that breaks down protein into amino acids to help digest proteins in the body. Protease inhibitors prevent the gut enzymes from breaking down proteins into amino acids, making the proteins less bioavailable. It also makes the other parts of the body especially the pancreas to produce too much enzyme that can lead to problems like chronic inflammation, allergic reaction and even leaky gut syndrome.

There aren’t many nutrients that can be found in legumes compared to consuming real food like meats, fish, vegetables and fruits.  Especially when legumes are cooked, they lose most of their nutritional value. One important thing to take note in the Paleo diet is the nutrient-density of the food you are to include in your diet.

Legumes are also high in carbohydrates and contain FODMAPS, which are carbohydrates that are not easily absorbed by some people, causing bloating, gas and other digestive problems.

But Can Peas be Paleo-Friendly??

Pea is a small spherical seed or the seed-pod of the pod fruit and is a member of the legume family. Peas are one of the few members of the legume family to be sold and cooked as fresh vegetables. Peas are technically legumes so they are not Paleo. But unlike all other legumes, peas can be quite acceptable to be consumed for some reasons:

  1. Peas can be eaten fresh instead of dried. Dried beans are left on the vine until dried making it more difficult to digest. When the pod is kept long in the vine, the seeds dry and more lectins are released. This is the reason why the lectins in peas are less prevalent which cannot cause as many digestive problems. Green peas are much less toxic than others.
  2. Phytates in peas are lesser compared to other legumes. According to Mark Sisson’s research, peas have around 348mg/100g of phytates. And when cooked decreases to 158mg.
  3. Peas offer more nutritional value. They have high levels of fiber and protein and significant amounts of Vitamins A and C, Calcium and iron. Because peas have fewer phytate contents, there are more minerals available for the body to use.
  4. Unlike other legumes, peas contain so much soluble fiber and lesser carbohydrates that won’t result to sudden blood sugar spike.
  5. The process of soaking before cooking peas can reduce their phytate contents.


Legumes are not Paleo and so are peas. Peas may not be as bad as other legumes because of their fewer anti-nutrients that can be safe for consumption. But they too, can’t be nutritious part of a healthy diet. There is little to gain from eating peas compared to eating actual meats and vegetables.

If you wish to consume peas, you might actually do so on occasion. Just make sure to soak, sprout or ferment them to get rid of most of the toxins. Also, don’t make them a staple. Eat them together with quality lean meats and vegetables and you’d probably be okay. J

What Experts Say About Peas… Is It Paleo?

“Beans, peas and other legumes contain 66 % less protein than either lean chicken or turkey, and 61 % less protein than lean beef, pork and seafood.  What the USDA doesn’t tell us is that our bodies don’t process bean and legume proteins nearly as efficiently as plant proteins – meaning that the proteins found in beans, peas and other legumes have poor digestibility”. – Dr. Loren Cordain

Peas and green beans are, botanically speaking, legumes. And since I generally recommend against the consumption of legumes, it seems to follow that the consumption of peas and green beans is “not Primal.” – Mark Sisson

“If you’ve read this far, you might think I’m a big advocate of legumes. That’s not the case. While they do contain beneficial nutrients and fiber (which feeds the gut flora), they are not as nutrient-dense as other Paleo foods—like organ meats, meats, fish, shellfish, eggs and vegetables—and, as I mentioned above, some of the nutrients they contain are not bioavailable due to phytic acid”. – Chris Kresser

All you ever wanted to know about Peas and Paleo

The Paleo Diet. Beans and Legiues: Are They Paleo?

Mark’s Daily Apple. Dear Mark: Are Peas and Green Beans Healthy?

Chris Kresser. Are Legumes “Paleo”? And Does It Really Matter?

Robb Wolf. Celiac and Legumes

Paleo Living Magazine. Are Peas Paleo?

Original Eating. 10 Reasons Peas and Beans are great for Paleo

Paleo Plans. Are Green Beans and Snow Peas Paleo?

Crossfit Boston. Why Your Peas Aren’t Paleo (But You Can Eat Them Anyway)

Primarily Paleo. Are peas Paleo?

Paleo Porn. Are Peas Paleo?

Paleo Leap. What’s Wrong with Beans and Legumes

Did we miss anything?

Comment below and let us know what you think. Do you agree with our conclusion?

photo credit: english peas