8 Proven Health Benefits of Fio Fio (Pigeon peas)
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Find out “8 Proven Health Benefits of Fio Fio (Pigeon peas)” Fio fio, also known as pigeon peas, are small, round legumes (seeds) that belong to the Fabaceae family, which also includes lentils, chickpeas, and soybeans. They are native to the tropics and widely cultivated in regions like Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. They are good sources of antioxidants that protect cells from damage, low glycemic index, making them suitable for diabetes management and rich in protein, fiber, iron, folate, and other essential nutrients.

Pigeon peas are small, round, and green when young, turning beige or brown as they dry. They have a smooth, slightly wrinkled texture and can be eaten fresh (green) or dried. Fio fio offers a range of health benefits. Here are eight proven health benefits of pigeon peas:

1. Improved digestion: Fio fio or pigeon peas are rich in dietary fiber, which supports digestive health by reducing constipation, cramping, bloating, and diarrhea. Additionally, they are a good source of nutrients such as potassium, which can help lower blood pressure and reduce the strain on the heart, and folate, which can help prevent anemia and certain neural tube defects. Other ways to improve digestion include eating whole foods, getting plenty of fiber, staying hydrated, and consuming probiotics. Foods that promote healthier digestion and help avoid common gastrointestinal problems include whole grains, leafy greens, lean protein, low-fructose fruits, and avocado. Furthermore, filling up on fiber from sources like wholemeal bread, brown rice, fruit, vegetables, beans, and oats can help prevent constipation and support digestive health.

2. Heart health: Fio fio, can be beneficial for heart health due to their potassium content, which can help lower blood pressure and reduce the strain on the heart. Additionally, incorporating healthy habits into your lifestyle can help prevent heart disease. These habits include eating a healthy diet, getting regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, controlling cholesterol and blood pressure, drinking alcohol only in moderation, and managing stress. Overall, incorporating healthy habits into your lifestyle and consuming nutrient-dense foods like pigeon peas can help maintain heart health.

3. Stronger immunity: Pigeon peas are believed to boost the immune system. They contain compounds that enhance the immune system and protect the body from infections and diseases. Additionally, the presence of vitamin C in raw pigeon peas can also contribute to a healthy immune system.

4. Lower risk of anemia: Pigeon peas are indeed a potential dietary tool for reducing the risk of anemia, particularly iron-deficiency anemia, due to several factors:

  • Pigeon peas are a good source of iron, containing around 2.4 milligrams per cooked cup. While this isn’t as high as some animal sources, it’s significant for plant-based diets. Moreover, the type of iron in pigeon peas (non-heme iron) is better absorbed when consumed with vitamin C, which pigeon peas also contain.
  • These legumes are an excellent source of folate, packing over 110% of the daily recommended intake per cup. Folate plays a crucial role in red blood cell production, and deficiency can contribute to anemia.
  • Pigeon peas provide vitamin B6, another essential nutrient for red blood cell formation. Deficiency in B6 can also be linked to anemia.
  • Pigeon peas contain specific compounds like phenolics and tannins, which can reduce the absorption of iron. However, cooking methods like soaking and sprouting can significantly reduce these compounds, allowing better iron absorption.

5. Weight loss: Fio fio, can be beneficial for weight loss due to their low levels of calories, saturated fats, and moderate levels of dietary fiber. The dietary fiber and nutrients found in pigeon peas may help keep you feeling full, increase the rate of your metabolism, and not lead to weight gain.

6. Increased energy: Fio fio, can help increase energy levels due to their high content of vitamin B, riboflavin, and niacin, which increase carbohydrate metabolism and prevent the storage of unwanted fat. The fiber content in pigeon peas keeps the stomach full for a long time, avoiding the need for regular meals or snacks. Consuming pigeon peas can also provide healing and generating cells throughout the body, which can contribute to increased energy levels.

7. Anti-inflammatory properties:  Fio fio, has been found to possess anti-inflammatory properties. Research has shown that the 50% ethanol extracts of pigeon peas can suppress the production of inflammatory markers in macrophages, indicating its potential as a functional food with anti-inflammatory effects.  The organic compounds in pigeon peas act as anti-inflammatory agents, reducing inflammation in the body. These properties make pigeon peas a valuable addition to a diet aimed at reducing inflammation and promoting overall health.

8. Management of blood pressure: Fio fio, has been found to have potential benefits for the management of blood pressure. Research has shown that pigeon pea protein isolate and hydrolysate can have an effect on systolic blood pressure, indicating a potential role in the management of hypertension. One study concluded that the consumption of pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan) can reduce blood pressure in elderly individuals with hypertension.

Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emphasizes the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including eating a healthy diet, getting regular physical activity, and controlling cholesterol and blood pressure, to prevent heart disease and manage blood pressure. Therefore, incorporating pigeon peas into a balanced diet, along with other healthy lifestyle practices, may contribute to the management of blood pressure.

ALSO READ: 10 plant based foods with all essential amino acids (Complete proteins)

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