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Cowpea or Black-Eyed Peas: 12 Health Benefits, Nutritional Value & Recipes

Considered to be the most beneficial and nourishing legume in the family, black-eyed peas are in fact beans and not peas. Scientifically termed as Vigna unguiculata, the legume is used worldwide.

Black-Eyed peas are a variety of legumes which are packed with nutrients and have amazing health benefits. The reason this legume is called black-eyed pea is because of the black patch present on its bright skin which makes its appearance similar to that of an eye. California black-eye is the commonly available black-eyed pea variety and it varies in size and eye-colour. The eye-colour is usually black but can range from brown, red, pink to green [1].

From Africa to Europe, black-eyed peas are consumed and enjoyed in various ways. If in Egypt it is served with rice, in Indonesia it is commonly used in curry dishes. The legumes are healthy and hearty and are a rich source of nutrients [2]. The tiny little bean is packed of various health benefits that it may surprise you.

The nourishing legume can be consumed in a variety of ways, you can add it in salads, soups, have it as a stew with steamed rice, etc. It keeps you satiated and provides you with various nutrients. So, read on to know more about the most beneficial bean belonging to the legume family.

Nutritional Value Of Cowpea or Black-Eyed Peas

100 grams of black-eyed peas have 336 calories. The legume has minute traces of riboflavin (0.226 gm), thiamin (0.853 mg), pyridoxine (0.357 mg) and copper (0.845 mcg). 100 grams of black-eyed peas contain approximately [3]

  • 60.03 grams carbohydrates
  • 23. 53 grams protein
  • 1.26 grams total fat
  • 10.6 grams dietary fibre
  • 110 milligrams calcium
  • 8.27 milligrams iron
  • 184 milligrams magnesium
  • 424 milligrams phosphorous
  • 3.37 milligrams zinc
  • 16 milligrams sodium
  • 1112 milligrams potassium
  • 2.075 milligrams niacin
  • 1.5 milligrams vitamin C

Health Benefits Of Cowpea or Black-Eyed Peas

A powerhouse of strength and stamina, incorporating black-eyed pea into your daily diet is highly advantageous for your body and helps prevent various health problems.

1. Improves eyesight

Black-eyed peas help improve your vision by strengthening the eye tissues [4]. The vitamin content in the legumes, especially vitamin A produces pigments in the retina, thereby, improving your vision. It is especially beneficial in promoting good vision in low light. The amount of vitamin A black-eyed peas provide you is greater than that provided by spinach, broccoli etc. The vision-boosting nutrients in the legume are one of the central reasons that demand it be included in your daily diet.

2. Promotes heart health

The high content of potassium in the legume helps in promoting and maintaining your cardiovascular health. Potassium is an essential ingredient that aids in the prevention of diseases affecting your heart. Various studies have suggested that adding black-eyed peas into your diet is highly beneficial to your health [5]. The low-fat, low-calorie content of black-eyed peas prevents cholesterol accumulation in your arteries as well [6].

3. Improves digestion

Black-eyed peas have a high content of dietary fibre, which is the sole component that helps improve your digestive system. The fibre in black-eyed peas promotes regular bowel movements and eliminates the chances of constipation. It helps in the removal of waste from your body by absorbing the water content in your body [7].

This legume cleanses the cholesterol which accumulates in your small and big intestines and reduces your chances of developing the condition called atherosclerosis, that causes health complications such as heart attack, stroke and chest pain [8].

4. Lowers blood pressure

The rich content of potassium in black-eyed peas helps maintain a healthy balance to your blood pressure levels. The low sodium level, along with the abundance of potassium aids in balancing your blood pressure levels naturally [9]. A high level of blood pressure can lead to serious consequences such as stroke, hypertension, etc. If you have high blood pressure or want to manage your blood pressure, include black-eyed peas in your diet as the high amount of potassium maintains your blood pressure [10].

5. Prevents anaemia

Consumption of an adequate amount of iron helps you to prevent the onset of anaemia, a condition caused by the lack of red blood cells or haemoglobin in your blood. Black-eyed peas are rich in iron and are highly beneficial in improving your red blood cell count and haemoglobin level. Along with this, it also has a high folate content which is important in the development of red blood cells. Thus, consuming it on a regular basis can help in increasing the iron content in your blood and treat anaemia [11].

6. Aids in weight loss

The health benefits of dietary fibre are limitless. The high fibre content in black-eyed peas aids in weight loss by suppressing your appetite [12]. However, it doesn't mean that the legume reduces your appetite in an unhealthy manner. Consuming black-eyed peas can keep your stomach full and body energised as well as prevent the constant need to snack [13]. If you are looking forward to following a diet that will keep your weight under control, you should include black-eyed peas in your diet.

7. Controls sugar levels

Individuals with type 1 diabetes can consume cooked black-eyed peas to lower the blood glucose level. The slow absorption of black-eyed peas into the bloodstream prevents sudden sugar crashes and sugar cravings. It also helps in improving the levels of insulin and lipids [14][15]. Even type 2 diabetics are advised to include the legume in their diet. However, it is advisable to consult your doctor before incorporating the legume into your daily diet.

8. Lowers pancreatic cancer risk

The consumption of folate-rich foods is known to reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer. B vitamins such as folate in the black-eyed peas aid in the creation of cells, that help prevent the onset of pancreatic cancer. It is said to reduce the risk level by 60 per cent [16].

9. Strengthens skin, nails, hair and muscles

Proteins are the building blocks of the body and black-eyed peas provide you with proteins in abundance. Proteins are required for strengthening the skin, nails, hair and muscles and also aid in repairing the cells affected by wear and tear [17].

10. Restricts premature ageing

The central and singular cause of early ageing is a weak and unhealthy body. The abundance of vitamin A, along with the other nutrients provided by the legume improves the quality of your skin by developing healthy mucous membranes. The membranes prevent lines and wrinkles from appearing on your skin [18].

11. Enhances bone health

The ample amounts of magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium within the legume are extremely beneficial in improving your bone health and density. Your bone health tends to deteriorate with age, making the bones prone to fracture. Including black-eyed peas in your diet can provide you with various minerals that aids in strengthening your bone density. Regular consumption of the legume can help you from developing age-related bone deterioration [19].

12. Promotes healthy pregnancy

The rich nutrient content in the black-eyed peas, such as fibre, protein, folate, iron and especially vitamin B9 is highly beneficial for pregnant women. It is important because of the central role the nutrient play in the process of DNA synthesis. Consuming black-eyed peas in the pre-pregnancy and post-pregnancy can help avoid any neural tube defects. The iron content in the beans is also beneficial for an expecting mother [20][21].

Side Effects & Precautions

There are no grave side effects for black-eyed peas. The only known potential side effect is flatulence. Consuming black-eyed peas can make you gassy, but it depends on the digestive functioning of the people. If you find it difficult to digest the fibre-rich legume, you may opt for digestive enzymes.

Black-eyed peas are beneficial when boiled and consumed. Although eating raw black-eyed peas will not cause any poisoning, boiling the legume will help in easy digestion.

Healthy Recipes Of Black-Eyed Peas

1. Hopping John salad with molasses dressing


  • Rinsed and drained black-eyed peas, as desired
  • 1½ cups sliced celery
  • 1½ cups coarsely chopped red pepper
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped red onion
  • 2 tsp finely chopped coriander leaves
  • ¼ cup mild-flavour molasses
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


  • In a bowl, mix the drained black-eyed peas, coriander leaves, red peppers, red onion, salt, garlic, and black pepper.
  • For the dressing: combine the vinegar, molasses and oil. Pour dressing over black-eyed pea mixture and toss gently.
  • Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
  • Mix well, serve & enjoy!

2. Black-eyed peas & okra


  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cups black-eyed peas
  • 10-15 fresh okra, stem ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper


  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat
  • Add onion and stir for 3 to 5 minutes
  • Add garlic and cook for 1 minute
  • Add broth and bring to boil
  • Stir in peas
  • Simmer and stir occasionally for 20 minutes
  • Add okra, salt, and pepper
  • Simmer until tender for about 15 minutes
  • Enjoy!