When striving to meet the recommended three cups of legumes/beans a week, put peas on your list. New research suggests protein-rich peas may help reduce hypertension risk while supporting kidney health.

Canadian chemists fed protein extracted from yellow peas to rats suffering from chronic kidney disease. After eight weeks, the pea-protein diet produced a 20% drop in blood pressure. What’s more, the pea protein appeared to counter some of the symptoms of the kidney disease, increasing urine production by 30%, restoring it to normal range, thus bolstering the kidney’s regulating function.

While this yet-to-be-published study remains under peer review, ample previous evidence links consumption of vegetable protein to lower blood pressure rates. In addition to supplying 9 grams of protein, a cup of cooked peas also provides 36% of your daily fiber, as well as an impressive 50% vitamin K and 40% of both vitamin C and manganese. Peas also boast significant quantities of the eye-healthy antioxidants beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.

Bonus: For added blood pressure advantage, limit meat consumption. A 10-year study of 29,000 women found a 35% increased risk of hypertension among those who ate the most red meat.

 Published September 1, 2010