Cowpea is a very important legume crop in Africa, and other arid parts of the world. These versatile and hardy peas from the Vigna genus are able to grow in harsh, unforgiving climates, providing people in those areas with a dense form of nutrients.
Given the high nutrient density of the beans, they have demonstrated a number of health benefits.
While the beans are the primary focus of the cowpea plant, the leaves, pea pods, and green peas are also edible and can deliver a powerful burst of nutrients and minerals to the human body.
From bean salads and soups to cakes and stand-alone vegetarian dishes, cowpeas are easy to prepare and provide far more nutrition than many other legume species.
Let’s take a closer look at the many impressive health benefits of cowpeas:
1. Digestive health
Cowpeas are a rich source of fiber. When you’re facing digestive issues, such as constipation or diarrhea, it can be an uncomfortable and embarrassing problem. Dietary fiber is one of the best solutions for a wide range of stomach issues, as it can help absorb water and loosen up the stool, bulking up your bowel movements and stimulating peristaltic motion. It can also improve the efficiency of your digestion.
2. Heart protection
Cowpeas, rich in vitamin B1 (thiamine), play a great role in protecting heart health. This vitamin can actively prevent heart failure and control the ventricles of the heart. Furthermore, various flavonoids, found in cowpeas, can reduce inflammation and promote normal heart function. Dietary fiber also plays a particular role in the balance of cholesterol in the body, which can prevent heart attacks and strokes, as well as the build-up of plaque in the arteries.
The antioxidant effects of cowpeas are of particular interest to the natural health community because cowpeas are being increasingly linked to different kinds of chronic illnesses. The antioxidants found in these legumes seek out and neutralize free radicals within the body, which cause chronic illness and cellular mutation. Vitamin C and A found in cowpeas are enough to give a boost to the immune system.
4. Sleep problems
Most people don’t think about tryptophan unless they’re eating Thanksgiving dinner, but there are significant levels of tryptophan in cowpeas, which can help the body relax and ease into better sleep patterns. If you are suffering from insomnia or restlessness at night, consider adding a spoonful of cowpea bean salad before you go to bed so you can wake up feeling refreshed!
5. Diabetes management
In recent times, cowpeas have gained more popularity amongst consumers and researchers worldwide as a result of its beneficial anti-diabetic properties. A 2018 study shows that a meal comprising of cowpea has a reduced calorific value, which helps in improving glucose regulation in people with diabetes.
6. Circulatory health
Cowpeas have long been used as a treatment for anemia, an iron deficiency in the body results in weakness, cognitive confusion, stomach aches, fatigue, and poor overall metabolic function. The high levels of iron found in cowpeas are an excellent way to counter the effects of anemia, while also promoting good circulation. Iron is necessary for the production of red blood cells, so an iron surplus will provide more oxygenated blood to the organs, thus promoting better function, faster healing, and higher energy levels.
7. Weight loss
Cowpeas are low in calories and cholesterol, which is always a benefit to weight loss and the dietary fiber in them also helps in important ways. It not only optimizes digestion to make sure that you are absorbing nutrients, rather than storing fat or waste in your body, but it also makes you feel full for longer. One of the biggest problems with weight loss programs is overeating on cheat days or snacking between meals. With a high-fiber diet in place, you can achieve your weight loss goals much quicker.
8. Skin care
The impressive levels of antioxidants found in cowpeas, as well as vitamin C, vitamin A, and protein, make it excellent for improving the appearance and health of your skin. The antioxidants eliminate signs of aging, soothe irritation, heal scars, and protect the skin against the effects of UV radiation. Protein in these beans helps stimulate cellular repair and the growth of new tissues.