Peas come in different varieties — with snow peas and sugar snap peas being two popular options that are often confused for one another.
Both are moderately sweet legumes that offer an abundance of similar nutrients.
While they’re comparable in many ways, they have a few notable differences.
This article explores the main similarities and differences between snow and sugar snap peas.
Snow peas and sugar snap peas have similar qualities because both belong to the legume family.
Confusingly, the French name, mangetout — meaning “eat all” — is often used for both.
However, though they’re closely related, they’re still two separate varieties.
Snow peas have been cultivated for centuries.
They’re sometimes referred to as Chinese pea pods, as they’re said to have originated from Southwest Asia.
Snow peas have a flatter pod than sugar snap peas and contain very small peas. In fact, most of the time, they’re harvested before the peas have fully developed in the pod.
Before eating, you generally remove a tough string along the edge of the pod.
Like sugar snap peas, snow peas are members of the legume family, but they’re the plant of the Pisum sativum var. Saccharatum species.
As they can withstand frost and snow, snow peas are generally available year-round, though their peak season is spring through the beginning of winter.
Some people believe that the common name “snow peas” stems from their ability to deter harsh winter conditions.
Sugar Snap Peas
Sugar snap peas — or simply snap peas — were created as a cross between the snow pea and the garden pea in the 1970s.
The garden pea is slightly sweeter than the snow pea but has a much tougher outer pod that needs to be shelled and discarded before eating.
Crossing snow peas and garden peas creates slightly sweeter peas that don’t require the extra work of shelling or discarding the pod — the best of both worlds.
Sugar snap peas have a more rounded pod compared to the flat and thick pod of the snow pea.
Like snow peas, they have a tough string on the edge of the shell that is removed before eating. However, some stringless sugar snap varies are available.
Sugar snap peas are also generally available year-round, though their peak season is March through April.
Summary Snow and sugar snap peas are both members of the legume family. Technically, they’re two different varieties of the same species. Sugar snap peas are a cross between snow peas and garden peas.
Snow and sugar snap peas can easily be interchanged in many recipes and dishes, as their flavors are quite similar.
The main difference in regard to flavor is their level of sweetness.
Snow peas are a slightly tender — yet crisp — sweet pea.
Sugar snap peas are also tender yet crisp but tend to have a sweeter flavor profile, as they’re crossed with the garden pea.
In fact, they’re often considered the most flavorful variety of pea.
Summary Snow peas and sugar snap peas have very similar flavors. However, sugar snap peas tend to be sweeter and more flavorful.
Snow peas and sugar snap peas are identical in their nutritional profiles.
A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of either snow or sugar snap peas provides (1).
- Calories: 42
- Carbs: 7.5 grams
- Fiber: 2.6 grams
- Protein: 2.8 grams
- Vitamin A: 22% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin C: 100% of the DV
- Vitamin K: 31% of the DV
- Folate: 10% of the DV
- Magnesium: 6% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 5% of the DV
- Potassium: 6% of the DV
- Manganese: 12% of the DV
Unlike your typical shelled pea, both snow peas and sugar snap peas are much less starchy — meaning they contain fewer carbs.
In fact, both provide less than 8 grams of carbs in 3.5 ounces (100 grams) (1).
Both varieties offer various important nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin K and folate — while being low in fat, cholesterol and sodium.
Whichever pea you prefer can be a low-calorie, nutritious addition to your diet.
Summary Sugar snap peas and snow peas share identical nutritional profiles and are less starchy than a typical shelled pea. They’re also low in calories and provide many nutrients, including fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K and folate.
The nutrients in snow and snap peas may offer certain health benefits.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant associated with impressive health benefits, such as reduced heart disease risk and improved blood pressure control and immunity (, , , ).
Additionally, peas are rich in other antioxidants, such as flavonoids and carotenoids ().
These have been shown to decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke by preventing cell damage (, , ).
Both sugar snap and snow peas are good sources of vitamin K.
This nutrient is involved in various bodily functions, including blood clotting and bone metabolism.
Many studies suggest that vitamin K plays a key role in increasing bone strength and density ().
The correlation between inadequate vitamin K intake and osteoporosis is strong (, ).
This vitamin also appears to be important for heart health — it helps prevent the calcification of your blood vessels, which could decrease your risk of heart disease ().
What’s more, many studies indicate that vitamin K may lower blood pressure by relaxing constricted blood vessels and allowing your heart to effortlessly pump blood through your body (, ).
Snow and sugar snap peas are relatively rich in fiber — which is important for your overall health.
Fiber can promote digestive health by preventing constipation and may be beneficial for blood sugar control (, ).
Furthermore, fiber promotes feelings of fullness and may aid weight loss (, ).
Summary Due to their vitamin C, vitamin K and fiber content, both sugar snap and snow peas may offer various health benefits, including reduced heart disease risk, improved blood pressure control, gut health and weight loss.
Both sugar snap and snow peas are available fresh and frozen.
One of the best and easiest ways to enjoy these types of peas is to simply remove the tough string around the pod and eat them raw. You can also dip them in hummus or yogurt vegetable dip.
In addition, their tender yet crispy texture and sweet flavor make great additions to various salads.
Both types can be roasted with olive oil, lightly sauteed with garlic or enjoyed steamed as a side dish.
Plus, adding snow and sugar snap peas to stir-fry and pasta dishes is a great way to boost your vegetable intake.
Be mindful not to overcook these legumes, as they will become limp and lose their crispness.
Summary Sugar snap and snow peas can be enjoyed raw as a nutritious and healthy snack — simply remove their hard outer string. Both can also be added to stir-fries or salads for an extra boost of sweetness.
Sugar snap peas are a cross between snow and garden peas.
The pods of snow peas are flatter with small, premature peas, whereas sugar snap peas are more rounded.
Both have an identical nutritional profile and very similar flavors. Still, sugar snap peas tend to be sweeter and more flavorful.
While snow peas and sugar snap peas have their similarities and differences, both make an excellent addition to a well-balanced diet.