Difference Between Beans and Peas

Main Difference – Beans vs Peas

Grains can be defined as small, hard, dry seeds which are consumed by humans or animals. Grains can be categorized into 5 groups. They are cereal grains, pseudo- cereal, pulses, whole grains and oil seeds. Out of these five categories, pulses are known as one of the main staple food due to the great demand for their nutrient content and vast consumption worldwide. Pulses are annual leguminous crop yielding, used as food for both humans and other animals in the world. Beans and peas are all seeds that grow in pods. They are rich in proteins and essential amino acids. They are more or less similar in their botanical and physiological features, and it becomes difficult to separate those different features correctly and distinguish one from the other. However, their shape is the predominant feature that can be used to differentiate them. Beans are oval, or kidney shaped whereas peas are round. This is the main difference between beans and peas. But, among ordinary consumers as well as practical situations, the terms beans, and peas are frequently used interchangeably. Therefore, this article explores the difference between beans and peas.

What are Beans

Beans belong to the family Fabaceae or Leguminosae and are grown in larger quantities and provide more food energy, carbohydrate, and protein for the entire world. In addition to that, they are considered as staple crops in many Asian and African countries. Beans are a rich source of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, oils, and protein) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals) as well as bioactive phytochemicals (polyphenols, flavonoids, anthocyanin, carotenoids, etc.) However, they contain tannin and phytic acid as anti-nutritional factors. In some developing countries, beans constitute a majority of daily nutrition. Examples of commonly consumed beans are the common bean, dry bean, kidney bean, haricot bean, pinto bean, navy bean, etc. These beans can be used for numerous agricultural purposes such as intercropping, crop rotations, biological fuels, green manure production, and rhizobium biofertilizer.

Main Difference - Beans vs Peas

What are Peas

Peas are annual leguminous  crop yielding from one to twelve seeds of different morphology, and color within a pod. Peas are used as food not only for humans but also for other animals.  Similar to many leguminous crops, peas play a significant role in crop rotation due to their capability to fix nitrogen. Depending on the variety, a pulse may be known as black-eyed pea, black pea, chickpea, Dixie lee pea and sweet pea. Peas are cultivated agriculturally, primarily for their human food grain seed, for livestock forage and silage production, and as soil-enhancing green manure. Many peas contain symbiotic bacteria known as Rhizobia within root nodules of plant root systems. These bacteria have the distinct capability of fixing nitrogen from atmospheric. This organization helps the root nodules to act as sources of nitrogen for peas and make them relatively rich in plant proteins. Therefore, peas are among the greatest sources of plant protein and also serving as fertilizer for the soil.Difference Between Beans and Peas

Difference Between Beans and Peas

Beans and peas may have substantially different properties and applications. These differences may include,


Beans are classified under different genera of Fabaseae/ Leguminosae family.

Peas typically comprise of seeds and pods of genera Pisum.

Growth patterns of climbing variety

Beans use vine itself to twin around the support.

Tendrils (twinning structures) can be seen in pea vines and these tendrils twine around the support.

Shape of Seed

Beans are oval or kidney shaped.

Peas are round shaped.

Categorization based on color

Beans are categorized into 2 groups based on the color. They are red beans and white beans.

Peas are not categorized into groups based on the color.

Type of Consumption

Both fresh beans and dried beans are consumed.

Often dried peas are consumed


Beans are considered as summer crops that require warm temperatures to grow.

Peas are cool season crop, grown in many parts of the world from winter to early summer dependent on location.

Toxicity and Health Concerns

Fresh raw beans, particularly red and kidney beans comprise a harmful toxin called lectin phytohaemagglutinin. In addition, edible beans also contain oligosaccharides known as raffinose and stachyose. However, as the normal human digestive tract does not contain any oligosaccharide digestive enzymes, consumed oligosaccharides are characteristically digested by gut bacteria.  As a result, flatulence-causing gasses are produced by these bacteria. Thus, beans cause bloating and flatulence effects.

Some people are allergic to peas.

Examples of Beans and Peas

Examples for red beans are Pinto, Pink beans, Light red kidney, Dark red kidney, Red beans, Pea beans and Black beans.

Examples of white beans are Navy, Small white, Great northern, Cannellini (white kidney bean), and Garbanzo

Examples of Peas Pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan), the cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), Black-eyed peas, Whole peas, black pea, chickpea, Dixie lee pea and sweet pea

In conclusion, both beans and peas are rich in carbohydrates, protein, and dietary fiber. A combination of beans and peas forms a well-balanced diet, especially for vegetarians.Difference between Beans and Peas -infographic


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Hagedorn, Donald J. (1974). Virus Diseases of Pea, Pisum sativum. St. Paul, Minnesota: American Phytopathological Society. p. 7.

Hernández Bermejo, J. E. and León, J., (1992). Neglected crops: 1492 from a different perspective, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Kaplan, Lawrence (2008). Legumes in the History of Human Nutrition. In DuBois, Christine; Tan, Chee-Beng and Mintz, Sidney. The World of Soy. NUS Press. pp. 27–. ISBN 978-9971-69-413-5.

Image Courtesy:

“Peas in pods – Studio” by Bill Ebbesen – Own work. (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons

“Kidney beans” by Sanjay Acharya – Own work.(CC BY-SA 3.0)via Wikimedia Commons

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