Are black-eyed peas a low carb food?

Black-eyed peas are a type of bean that is popular in Southern cooking. They are used in dishes like Hoppin’ John and Texas caviar. With their rich, earthy flavor and creamy texture when cooked, black-eyed peas make a tasty addition to many recipes.

But are black-eyed peas a low carb food option? Let’s take a look at the carb count and glycemic index of these peas to find out.

Black-eyed peas nutrition facts

A 1/2 cup serving of cooked black-eyed peas contains:

  • Calories: 100
  • Protein: 5g
  • Fat: 0.5g
  • Carbs: 18g
  • Fiber: 5g

So in 1/2 cup of cooked black-eyed peas there are 18 grams of carbohydrates. But 5 of those grams come from fiber. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that our bodies cannot digest. So we can subtract the fiber grams to get the net carbs.

The net carbs in 1/2 cup black-eyed peas is 13g.

How many net carbs are recommended on a low carb diet?

Low carb diets like the ketogenic diet often recommend limiting net carbs to 20-50g per day. The amount depends on the individual.

Here are some common net carb recommendations for low carb diets:

  • Ketogenic diet: Less than 50g net carbs per day
  • Moderate low carb diet: 50-100g net carbs per day
  • Liberal low carb diet: 100-150g net carbs per day

On the strictest keto diets aiming for 20-30g net carbs per day, black-eyed peas would not fit the criteria. But on a more moderate low carb diet with 50-100g net carbs per day, they can be incorporated in moderation.

The glycemic index of black-eyed peas

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a food raises blood sugar. Foods are ranked on a scale of 0 to 100.

Foods with a high GI spike blood sugar rapidly. Low GI foods slowly release sugar into the bloodstream.

Low GI foods are recommended on low carb diets for stable energy and appetite control.

Cooked black-eyed peas have a low glycemic index of 42 (1). This means they should not cause a dramatic spike in blood sugar compared to high GI foods like rice (GI of 73) or potatoes (GI of 78) (2).

Black-eyed peas glycemic load

Glycemic load accounts for the GI as well as the carb content in a serving of food. It’s calculated by multiplying the GI by the grams of carbs, then dividing by 100.

Black-eyed peas have a glycemic load of 5 per 1/2 cup serving. This is considered a low glycemic load. Foods under 10 are low, and foods over 20 are high.

The glycemic load of black-eyed peas confirms they release sugar slowly into the bloodstream and should not spike blood sugar.

Are black-eyed peas keto friendly?

The ketogenic diet limits carb intake to achieve ketosis, a state where the body burns fat for fuel. To maintain ketosis, carbs are restricted to just 20-50g net carbs per day.

With 13g net carbs in 1/2 cup serving, black-eyed peas should be eaten in moderation on keto. Small amounts can fit into daily carb limits, but they may need to be limited to occasional intake.

Tips for fitting black-eyed peas into a keto diet

  • Measure portions carefully to track net carbs.
  • Pair with low carb vegetables like greens to stay under carbs limits.
  • Substitute half the black-eyed peas for cauliflower rice or riced broccoli.
  • Save black-eyed peas for days with intense workouts to take advantage of the carbs.
  • Stick to 1/4-1/2 cup portions to stay under keto carb limits.

Ways to reduce carbs in black-eyed peas

Here are some preparation tips to lower the carb content of black-eyed peas:

Rinse canned black-eyed peas

Canned black-eyed peas are packed in a brine solution that contains sugar. Rinsing them well can wash away unnecessary carbs.

Cook from dried, not canned

Cooking black-eyed peas from scratch instead of using canned may provide even more fiber. An analysis from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows dried black-eyed peas contain 14g of fiber per 100g, while canned contain 11g (3).

Pair with non-starchy vegetables

Bulk up black-eyed pea dishes by adding low carb vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, asparagus or green beans.

Try cabbage collard greens

Traditional Hoppin’ John combines black-eyed peas with nutrient-dense collard greens. For an ultra low carb twist, use cabbage collard greens which contain just 5g net carbs per cup raw. Compared to 10g net carbs per cup raw for regular collards.

Can you eat black-eyed peas on low carb diets?

Black-eyed peas can be incorporated into some low carb diets like moderate carb and liberal low carb diets with 50-150g net carbs per day.

On stricter ketogenic diets aiming for 20-50g net carbs daily, black-eyed peas should only be eaten occasionally in small portions. They may also be more suitable for days when you are more active.

Black-eyed peas are not suitable for ultra-strict low carb diets like carnivore or zero carb diets. But some bean-friendly low carb plans can work for people who still want to reap the nutritional benefits of black-eyed peas.

Benefits of black-eyed peas

Here are some of the top health benefits associated with black-eyed peas:

High in fiber

Black-eyed peas provide an impressive 10g of fiber per one cup cooked serving. The fiber in black-eyed peas may promote digestive health, gut microbiota, cholesterol levels and weight control (4).

Rich in folate

Black-eyed peas are an excellent source of folate, with over half the daily requirement in just one cup. Folate is an essential B vitamin that supports heart health and fetal development during pregnancy (5).

Source of iron and potassium

One serving of black-eyed peas contains around 15% of the daily recommended amount of iron and potassium. These minerals are important for oxygen transport, metabolism and muscle function.

Contains antioxidants

Research shows beans and legumes like black-eyed peas have antioxidant capacities that may help lower inflammation and reduce disease risk.

High in protein

With around 13g per cup, black-eyed peas provide a solid dose of plant-based protein. This makes them a nutritious meat substitute for vegetarians and vegans.

May support healthy weight

Studies link bean consumption to healthier body weights, potentially due to their fiber, protein and anti-inflammatory properties (6).

Potential health risks

Black-eyed peas are safe for most people in normal food amounts. But there are some things to be aware of:

Phytic acid content

Like other legumes, black-eyed peas contain phytic acid. This may impair the absorption of minerals like iron, zinc and calcium in high amounts (7).

However, soaking, sprouting and cooking black-eyed peas can significantly reduce phytic acid levels (8).

Digestive issues

The fiber and oligosaccharides in black-eyed peas could cause gas, bloating or diarrhea in sensitive individuals. Introducing them gradually may improve tolerance.

Lectin content

Black-eyed peas contain lectins, which can irritate the digestive tract. Proper soaking, sprouting and cooking help reduce lectins to safe levels.


Raw black-eyed peas contain trace amounts of toxins like trypsin inhibitors and hemagglutinins. Again, correct soaking and thorough cooking deactivates these compounds.


Black-eyed peas can cause allergic reactions in sensitive people, especially with cross-reactivity to peanuts. Discontinue use if any symptoms like hives, swelling or difficulty breathing occur.

Black-eyed peas vs other legumes

How do black-eyed peas compare to other legumes in terms of carbs, glycemic index and nutritional benefits?

Black-eyed peas vs lentils

Both foods are low carb legumes, but lentils contain slightly fewer net carbs with 11g per cooked cup vs 13g in black-eyed peas.

However, black-eyed peas have a lower glycemic index of 42 compared to lentils at 29. This suggests black-eyed peas may be more effective for regulating blood sugar.

Overall, both these legumes can fit into low carb diets in moderation and provide valuable nutrition.

Black-eyed peas vs pinto beans

Pinto beans have almost double the net carbs of black-eyed peas, with 23g per cooked cup. They also have a higher glycemic index of 39.

For low carb and blood sugar control, black-eyed peas would be the better choice over higher carb pinto beans.

Black-eyed peas vs kidney beans

With 24g net carbs and a glycemic index of 52, kidney beans are higher in carbs and raise blood sugar faster than black-eyed peas.

Kidney beans would need to be eaten in much smaller portions to fit into a low carb eating plan.

Black-eyed peas vs black beans

Very similar to kidney beans, black beans provide 24g net carbs and have a GI of 55.

For low carb diets, black-eyed peas have an advantage over black beans for maintaining carb limits and blood sugar stability.

Simple recipe ideas with black-eyed peas

Here are some tasty and nutritious recipes that feature black-eyed peas:

Low carb Hoppin’ John

The traditional dish updated with riced cauliflower instead of rice to reduce carbs.


  • 1 cup cooked black-eyed peas
  • 2 cups riced cauliflower
  • 1 cup chopped kale or cabbage collard greens
  • 1 tsp Cajun seasoning


  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in pan over medium heat.
  2. Add black-eyed peas and cauliflower rice. Cook 3-5 minutes until heated through.
  3. Stir in greens and Cajun seasoning. Cook until greens are wilted.

Black-eyed pea curry stir fry

Spicy curry flavors pair deliciously with black-eyed peas and vegetables.


  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup diced carrot
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • 2 cups cooked black-eyed peas
  • 1 cup chopped spinach
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 (15 oz) can lite coconut milk


  1. Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook 5 minutes until translucent.
  2. Add garlic, carrot, zucchini and cook 5 minutes more.
  3. Stir in black-eyed peas, spinach and curry powder. Cook 2 minutes.
  4. Add coconut milk and simmer 5 minutes until sauce thickens.

Black-eyed pea chili

All the hearty flavor of chili with fiber-rich black-eyed peas.


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 (15 oz) cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano


  1. Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook 5 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and ground turkey. Cook until turkey is browned, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add black-eyed peas, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin and oregano. Simmer 20 minutes until thickened.

The bottom line

Black-eyed peas are a versatile legume with a modest carb content compared to beans. Though not suitable for keto, they can fit into some low carb diets in moderation.

Their low glycemic impact makes them unlikely to spike blood sugar. Black-eyed peas provide plenty of benefits like fiber, plant-based protein, iron, folate and antioxidants.

Enjoy black-eyed peas in recipes like Hoppin’ John, chili and stir fries. Measure portions and pair with non-starchy vegetables and healthy fats while limiting other carbs to stay within your daily carb target.

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