Peas, leaves, seeds.
The main nutritional content of the herb and the reason why it is a crucial crop and a staple food on three continents is the very high quantity of natural vegetable protein. Proteins are an essential part of human diet and especially important in poor countries where meat is scarce or expensive. There are no less than 11 grams of pure vegetal protein in every portion of cooked pigeon peas equivalent to a cup. Proteins are the building blocks of our bodies and critical to the structure of bones, muscles and virtually every human tissue or cell. As a consequence, proteins are used to repair and heal any damaged cells inside us. The pigeon peas are also a major source of potassium. This mineral has numerous health benefits but by far the main one is to act as a vasodilator. People who suffer from heath diseases should include pigeon peas in their daily or at least weekly meals, since the rich potassium content lowers blood pressure by expanding blood vessels and reducing their constriction. This is extremely beneficial for hypertensive people and can prevent other heart diseases. Another critical compound found in massive levels in pigeon peas is folate. This vitamin is good for women during pregnancy. Folate is shielding the babies against problems of the neural tube. Coupled with the high protein content, the folate is an extremely effective cure against anemia and makes the plant particularly important in poor countries where it is a common problem. It only takes one cup of pigeon peas to provide more than the daily required dose of folate. Pigeon peas have a high content of vitamin C. However, a significant part of it gets lost while the plant is cooked. To benefit from all the vitamin C and some other nutrients, it's a good idea to eat the raw peas. Studies have indicated that cooking reduces the vitamin C dose by almost a quarter! This vitamin is a powerful antioxidant and boosts the production of white cells in the blood. This strengthens the immune system and allows our body to fight better against disease, as well as providing an overall health boost. Pigeon peas are a good food choice for improving digestion. This is because they are rich in dietary fibers, like many other legumes and plants. Fibers have the ability to slow down digestive transit, allowing the body to be more efficient and extract more of the nutrients in the food. They regulate the bowel movements and cause a more consistent excretion, cleaning up the intestines. This cures and prevents a wide range of problems like bowel inflammation, cramps, diarrhea, constipation, bloating and gastric strain. Traditional Asian doctors have been aware for a long time that the plant has general anti-inflammatory properties. Every part of pigeon peas can be useful: the leaves, seeds as well as the fruits. Pigeon peas can be crushed and prepared into a paste, which is considered in Asian medicine to be effective against hemorrhoids. However, the plant is rich in bioactive compounds that are able to cause an overall inflammation relief in the whole body. Pigeon pea is an excellent food choice and should be included in every balanced natural diet. This is because it is low in dangerous compounds like cholesterol and saturated fats, has a moderate caloric value, while being very rich in various nutrients. Due to the high fiber content, eating pigeon peas causes a feeling of fullness. This prevents gaining weight and boosts our metabolism, solving the most common problem of every healthy diet, which is the hunger sensation that can occur in between two meals. Studies have actually discovered that pigeon peas become pure usable energy after a meal, instead of fat deposits. The rate of conversion is exceptional and scientists believe it to be caused by the sizeable quantity of vitamin B complex stored in the peas. The main bioactive compounds that boost the burn rate of carbohydrates are riboflavin and niacin. This provides two important benefits: it prevents weight gain and at the same time offers us more energy. This could be another reason why this herb is very popular in hot and arid climates, since it is ideal for humans who work in very demanding conditions and must use a lot of energy. At the same time, pigeon pea is ideal for a healthy heart. This is because of the very rare combination of dietary fiber and potassium. While dietary fiber boosts the metabolism and reduces the level of cholesterol in the blood, potassium lowers blood pressure and relieves blood vessel strain. The low content of cholesterol and other dangerous fats is yet another reason why pigeon peas are an excellent choice for people who have heart problems.
Pigeon peas have an interesting taste, similar to grains, with a nutty touch. It is not commonly found in normal grocery stores but can be bought from Indian and Caribbean specialized stores, as well as large hypermarkets. In the Caribbean, pigeon pea is a key ingredient in some very spicy dishes, where it is mixed with several grain types, most commonly rice. Indians use it to prepare daal, a curry that resembles a soup, in combination with lentils. In East African cuisine, the most popular peas dish is also similar to a soup, mixed with coconut broth and hot peppers that add a very spicy touch. In street markets in its native range, numerous varieties of pigeon peas can be found and tasted. However, in the Western world shops, only the green, black or white types are common. Usually, the peas are only available in canned form in stores. However, peas can also sometimes be found dried or even milled like a flour.
The herb is very resilient and can grow on marginal lands that are unsuitable for other legumes. Not only it can be planted on poor soil but it survives without much water as well. However, providing pigeon pea with a proper amount of water and quality soil results in bigger and more productive plants, with a longer lifespan. Being a tropical plant, it needs heat and can only be cultivated as an annual plant in areas where the soil freezes in winter. This is because it can't survive frost but it is still a good food crop choice due to good production and the ability to improve soils. However, some new varieties have been developed later that are able to resist mild frost.
The first seeds develop and can be harvested in about three to four months after cultivation. However, this is not a given. While flowers appear, depending on the variety, they sometimes need even eight months to mature into peas, depending on the variety. Harvesting is a matter of choice. You can pick the pigeon peas when they are green and consume them fresh or allow them to stay on the vines until dry. Harvesting is very easy since the peas are grouped in large clusters. These are very easy to pick and you can gather enough of them for a decent meal in no time.