Dr. Becky Maes - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Becky Maes

Are Pea Crisps Bad For You?

Also Known As: Pea chips, pea snacks



Short answer

Pea crisps might offer more protein and fiber than traditional snacks, but their healthfulness can vary. Some contain additives, refined oils, and are high in sodium, which could negate benefits. It's essential to read labels for micronutrient and added ingredient content. Consumed in moderation and with careful brand selection, pea crisps can be part of a balanced diet. That said, watch for hidden sugars and high-sodium levels, especially if managing blood pressure or blood sugar levels.



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Long answer

Nutritional Profile of Pea Crisps

When evaluating whether a snack like pea crisps is healthy, it's imperative to delve into its nutritional composition. This closer look helps us understand not only the caloric content but also the balance of macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals that contribute to our overall diet.

Pea crisps are often marketed as a healthier alternative to traditional potato chips. To assess this claim, let's break down the typical nutritional profile of a standard serving of pea crisps, which is often around 1 ounce (28 grams).

  • Calories: Depending on the brand, a serving of pea crisps contains approximately 100-120 calories. This is slightly lower than the calorie content of an equal serving of regular potato chips, which can contain around 150 calories. However, it's crucial to consider the quality of these calories as well.
  • Protein: Pea crisps tend to be higher in protein compared to potato chips, averaging about 3-5 grams per serving. This is due to their primary ingredient being legumes, which naturally contain more protein.
  • Fat: Typically, pea crisps have 4-6 grams of fat per serving, of which a small portion may be saturated. The exact amount of fat can vary based on additional ingredients and the cooking method used by the manufacturer.
  • Carbohydrates: In terms of carbohydrates, they generally comprise 13-16 grams per serving, with 1-3 grams being dietary fiber. The fiber content is a beneficial aspect of pea crisps, as it helps to support digestive health.
  • Sodium: One of the main considerations when choosing packaged snacks is their sodium content. Pea crisps often contain between 170-230 milligrams of sodium per serving, which can be substantial depending on one's daily salt intake recommendations.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Pea crisps can also be a source of essential micronutrients. They may contain iron, potassium, and varying B-vitamins depending on the extent to which they are processed. However, the exact amounts are generally not significant enough to contribute a large portion towards daily requirements.

When selecting pea crisps, it's vital to read the nutrition label and ingredient list carefully. Brands may differ in their recipes and processing methods, which can in turn affect the nutritional content. For example, some pea crisps might include additional seasonings and flavorings that increase the sodium or sugar content. Additionally, the processing method might reduce some of the natural nutrients found in peas.

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences suggests that incorporating legumes like peas into snack foods can increase the nutritional value compared to snacks made from refined grains. This can imply potential health benefits for pea crisps due to their primary ingredient. However, the study also highlights the importance of considering the overall composition of these snacks, including added fats, sodium, and other additives.

In conclusion, the nutritional profile of pea crisps presents a mixed bag. While they can offer more protein and fiber than many traditional snacking options, the added ingredients and processing must be scrutinized to make an informed dietary choice. It's also essential to consume them in moderation, as with any snack, to maintain a balanced and healthful diet.

Hidden Ingredients in Processed Pea Snacks

Delving into the world of processed pea snacks reveals several hidden ingredients that may not be immediately apparent on a cursory glance at the product label. It's crucial for consumers to understand the potential impact of these ingredients on their health.

1. Additives and Preservatives: Many pea crisps contain additives and preservatives to enhance flavor, appearance, and shelf life. Examples include monosodium glutamate (MSG), which can lead to headaches or allergic reactions in sensitive individuals, and disodium inosinate, often used in conjunction with MSG.

2. Refined Oils: Pea crisps are often cooked in refined oils like sunflower or canola oil. These oils can be high in omega-6 fatty acids, which, in excess, may contribute to inflammation. Moreover, they undergo extensive processing which strips them of certain nutrients.

3. Sodium Content: A significant hidden ingredient is sodium. While sodium is essential for bodily functions, excessive consumption is associated with high blood pressure and heart disease. Some pea crisps contain high levels of sodium, which can quickly add up if not moderated.

4. Artificial Flavors and Colors: Synthetic flavors and colors may be used to mimic the taste and look of pea crisps' natural counterparts. While the FDA approves these additives, there is still ongoing debate among health experts about their long-term effects.

5. Sugar and Sweeteners: Surprisingly, some savory pea crisps contain added sugars or sweeteners like maltodextrin for taste enhancement. Consuming added sugars in excess is linked to various health issues, such as obesity and diabetes.

Examining the Labels: It's crucial for informed choices that consumers examine the ingredient lists carefully on pea crisps packaging. Despite 'pea' being a prominent feature, the additional elements can significantly alter the nutritional profile of the snack.

Research on Additives: Studies examining the health effects of food additives and preservatives indicate varying outcomes. For instance, a study published in the Journal of Neural Transmission (2015) found that MSG can lead to excitation of neurons in the brain, potentially contributing to headaches. Another study in Frontiers in Psychology (2015) suggested an association between artificial food colors and worsened symptoms in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

When considering pea crisps as a snack choice, it is not just the key ingredient — peas — that should be on our radar but also the array of 'hidden' ingredients they are partnered with, which can sometimes overshadow the benefits of the primary ingredient.

Sodium Content and Blood Pressure Concerns

Pea crisps have emerged as a popular snack option for those seeking a healthier alternative to traditional potato chips. However, like many processed snacks, pea crisps can often contain higher levels of sodium. Sodium, an essential electrolyte in the human diet, is critical for maintaining fluid balance and supporting nerve and muscle function. Yet, the amount of sodium present in these snacks warrants a closer look due to its potential impact on blood pressure and overall cardiovascular health.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the average adult should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, with an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 milligrams for most adults. Consuming too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Considering that high blood pressure is a significant public health concern, impacting nearly half of adults in the United States, the sodium content in pea crisps should not be overlooked.

A comparative analysis reveals that a standard serving size of pea crisps (about 1 ounce or 28 grams) can contain between 150 to 200 milligrams of sodium. While this may seem relatively low, snack consumption can quickly lead to the intake of multiple servings, significantly increasing daily sodium consumption. For individuals with hypertension or a predisposition to high blood pressure, monitoring sodium intake is especially critical. Here is a breakdown of typical sodium content found in popular pea crisps brands:

Brand Serving Size Sodium (mg)
Brand A 28g (1 oz) 170
Brand B 28g (1 oz) 160
Brand C 28g (1 oz) 190

It's not just individuals with existing health conditions who should be cognizant of their sodium intake. Studies suggest that a high-sodium diet may affect blood pressure over time in those who are currently normotensive. For example, a long-term study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that even moderate sodium consumption can adversely affect blood pressure over the long term, highlighting the importance of moderation.

In light of these findings, it's advisable for consumers to consider not only the calories and fat content of their snacks but also to closely examine sodium levels. Opting for low-sodium versions of pea crisps when available, or even better, portioning out servings ahead of time to avoid overconsumption, can help keep sodium intake in check. Additionally, balancing out snack choices with fresh fruits and vegetables, which are naturally low in sodium, can support a well-rounded and heart-friendly diet.

Finally, for those concerned about blood pressure and cardiovascular health, it's important to view the consumption of pea crisps within the context of overall dietary patterns rather than in isolation. Combined with regular physical activity and other healthy lifestyle choices, careful selection and consumption of processed snacks like pea crisps can form part of a balanced diet without significantly elevating blood pressure risks.

Glycemic Index of Pea Crisps and Blood Sugar Management

When considering the impact of pea crisps on blood sugar management, it is essential to explore their glycemic index (GI). The glycemic index is a relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels. Carbohydrates with a low GI value (55 or less) are more slowly digested, absorbed, and metabolized and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and, therefore insulin levels.

Pea crisps, made from legumes such as green peas, tend to have a moderate glycemic index, but the exact number can vary based on the brand and the additional ingredients used during manufacturing. Peas themselves are a low-GI food, which could indicate that pea crisps might have a similar effect. However, the processing of peas into crisps changes the structure and composition of the carbohydrates, often resulting in a higher GI compared to the whole peas.

Some studies have indicated that legume-based snacks can offer better blood sugar management compared to high-GI snacks. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism found that pulses, including peas, can have beneficial effects on postprandial glucose and insulin levels, which suggests potential benefits for pea-based snacks (Sievenpiper et al., 2009).

The presence of dietary fiber in pea crisps also plays a crucial role in blood sugar control. Fiber can slow the absorption of sugar, aiding in maintaining stable blood glucose levels. The fiber content in pea crisps varies among brands, and it's advisable to check the nutrition label for this information.

Moreover, the other ingredients added to pea crisps can influence their glycemic index. For example, the addition of high-GI ingredients like potato starch or corn flour can elevate the overall GI, while additional fibers or proteins can help mitigate the blood sugar spike.

To better manage blood sugar, it is recommended to look for pea crisps with a high fiber content and minimal added sugars or high-GI ingredients. Pairing pea crisps with a source of healthy fat or protein can further stabilize blood sugar levels.

For individuals with diabetes or those looking to manage their blood sugar levels, it is vital to monitor how pea crisps affect their individual blood glucose response. Individual responses can vary, so keeping track through monitoring can inform whether pea crisps are a suitable snack for one's diet.

In summary, while the base ingredient of pea crisps—the peas themselves—has a low glycemic index and could support blood sugar management, the processing and added ingredients in pea crisps might alter their GI. Therefore, it is critical to consider these factors when incorporating pea crisps into a diet for blood sugar control. Read labels carefully, watch for added high-GI ingredients, and consume them wisely as part of a balanced diet.

How Pea Crisps Stack Up Against Traditional Potato Chips

When reaching for a crunchy snack, many health-conscious consumers are turning to pea crisps as a proposed better alternative to traditional potato chips. But how do these two stack up nutritionally? Let’s dive into a comparative analysis based on key nutritional aspects.

Caloric Content

First and foremost, calorie count is often a deciding factor for snackers. Both pea crisps and potato chips are calorie-dense foods owing to their crispy nature, which typically comes from being fried or baked. However, pea crisps tend to have a slight edge, with roughly a 10-15% lower calorie count per serving compared to regular potato chips.

Fat Content

Traditional potato chips are notoriously high in fat, especially saturated fats which are known to adversely affect heart health if consumed excessively. Pea crisps have less total fat on average and often contain healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, aligning more closely with heart-healthy snacking guidelines.

Protein and Fiber

Peas naturally contain more protein and dietary fiber compared to potatoes. Therefore, pea crisps often offer a more fulfilling snack with higher levels of these nutrients. A higher protein content contributes to muscle repair and growth, while ample dietary fiber promotes digestive health and helps maintain blood sugar levels.

Sodium Content

Both pea crisps and traditional potato chips can contain significant amounts of sodium, which is a concern for individuals monitoring their blood pressure or heart health. However, some pea crisp brands have taken strides in offering lower-sodium versions, which is less frequent among traditional potato chip options.

Ingredients and Additives

Ingredient lists can vary widely between different brands and styles of both pea crisps and potato chips. Generally, potato chips have a simpler ingredient list, but that’s not always a marker of health. Pea crisps often contain rice flour or other binding agents to maintain their shape, which could potentially be a source of extra carbohydrates. Moreover, the flavoring of both snacks frequently involves various additives and preservatives, which may have implications for overall health.

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index (GI) measures how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels. Pea crisps typically have a lower GI compared to potato chips due to their higher protein and fiber contents, making them a potentially better option for individuals with blood sugar sensitivities.

To sum up, while pea crisps may offer some nutritional advantages over traditional potato chips, such as fewer calories, less fat, and more protein and fiber, it's critical to read labels carefully. The healthfulness can vary greatly between brands and flavors, and other factors like sodium content and additives should be considered as part of one’s overall dietary pattern.

Snacking Habits: Portion Control and Frequency

Understanding the role of portion control and the frequency of snacking is crucial when evaluating the impact of pea crisps on your health. Pea crisps, as a snack option, can be integrated healthfully into one's diet, but awareness of their consumption patterns is instrumental.

Portion control is a fundamental aspect of maintaining a balanced diet. Overindulging in any snack, including pea crisps, can lead to excessive calorie intake and potential weight gain. Snacks are meant to tide you over between meals, not replace them, so keeping an eye on the serving size is essential. A typical serving size for pea crisps might range from 1 to 1.5 ounces (28-43 grams). Consuming more than this recommended serving can inadvertently increase your intake of sodium and fat, depending on the brand and preparation method.

  • Be mindful of the serving size listed on the package.
  • Measure out portions into a bowl or container instead of eating directly from the bag.
  • Pay attention to your body's hunger cues and eat accordingly.

The frequency of snacking on pea crisps is another factor to consider. While they are a source of protein and fiber, making them a better choice than many other snacks, they should not be consumed indiscriminately throughout the day. Frequent snacking on pea crisps can lead to a high caloric intake and may also diminish the nutritional benefits of your subsequent meals.

Timing your snacks can make a significant difference. To optimize energy levels and control hunger, strategically place snack times in the mid-morning or mid-afternoon, a few hours after a meal and a few hours before the next meal. This practice can improve metabolism and maintain blood sugar levels, reducing the likelihood of overeating during main meals.

Time of Day Portion Purpose of Snack
Mid-Morning 1 oz (~28g) To sustain energy until lunch
Mid-Afternoon 1 oz (~28g) To stabilize blood sugar and satiate hunger until dinner

Collectively, if consumed in moderation, pea crisps can be part of a healthful eating plan. However, neglecting to monitor portion sizes and snacking frequency might negate their potential benefits. Always remember that the key to a healthy diet is variety and moderation, and this holds true for snacking on pea crisps as well.

Frequently asked questions

Pea crisps can be a source of essential micronutrients like iron, potassium, and some B-vitamins, partly due to their primary ingredient, legumes. While they may offer more protein and fiber than many snacks, the amounts of vitamins and minerals are often not significant enough to contribute largely to daily requirements. For essential nutrients, it's still important to rely on a varied diet with a focus on whole foods.

Some brands offer lower-sodium versions of pea crisps, catering to those who need to monitor their sodium intake for blood pressure management. It's important to read labels carefully and choose options that align with dietary sodium limits, as standard pea crisps can still contain substantial sodium levels.

Pea crisps have a slightly lower calorie count compared to traditional potato chips and higher amounts of protein and fiber, which can promote satiety and help in weight management. However, portion control is key, as overeating them can lead to excessive calorie intake. For weight management, they should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Yes, there is a difference. Pea crisps usually contain less total fat than potato chips, and the fats present are often healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Traditional potato chips, on the other hand, tend to be higher in saturated fats which can negatively affect heart health over time if consumed in excess.

Ask a question about Pea Crisps and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • headaches
  • allergic reactions
  • inflammation

Possible long-term side effects

  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • weight gain
  • worsened adhd symptoms

Ingredients to be aware of


  • higher protein
  • higher fiber
  • may contain essential vitamins and minerals
  • low glycemic index potential

Healthier alternatives

  • low-sodium versions of pea crisps
  • fresh fruits and vegetables

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)


  • Plant protein powered
  • Gluten-free snack
  • Non-GMO ingredients
  • Baked, not fried
  • Convenient snack packs
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 12-28-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 12-28-2023

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