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Is Split Pea Soup Good for Diabetics?

Split pea soup has been considered a folk remedy for diabetes for a long time, dating as far back as Roman times. [1] And while eating a bowl of split pea soup isn’t going to cure diabetes, it’s still a classic winter comfort food any diabetic might enjoy.

Can diabetics enjoy split pea soup on a regular basis, or is it too carb-dense to be anything but an occasional treat? Here’s the nutritional breakdown of split pea soup and how good it is for diabetics.

Nutrition Facts and Benefits of Split Pea Soup

Split pea soup is usually made with split peas (peas that have been dried and had the outer skin removed), carrots, onions, ham or bacon, and chicken stock or water. [2] There are many variations of split pea soup out there, but here are the nutrition facts for one type of canned and one kind of homemade split pea soup.


Serving size: 1 can (538g) [3]

Calories274 cal
Total carbohydrate52.3g
Calcium59.2 mg
Iron3.07 mg
Sodium1470 mg
Riboflavin0 mg
Thiamin0 mg
Niacin0 mg
Vitamin C0 mg
Vitamin A0 µg
Saturated fat0.54g
Trans fat0g
Cholesterol5.38 mg
Glycemic index rating60 [4]

Split pea and ham soup

Serving size: 1 cup (253g) [5]

Calories195 cal
Total carbohydrate28.3g
Calcium35.4 mg
Iron2.25 mg
Sodium762 mg
Riboflavin0.09 mg
Thiamin0.12 mg
Niacin2.66 mg
Vitamin C7.34 mg
Vitamin A258 µg
Saturated fat1.67g
Trans fat0g
Cholesterol7.59 mg
Glycemic index rating60 [6]

There are many benefits to soup in general. It’s easy to prepare, can be stored and reheated easily, and can use up leftovers. Soup, including split pea soup, has a high water content, making it less calorie-dense than other foods. Most soups contain a lot of vegetables and can keep you full for a long period of time. [7]

Regardless of the kind, Split pea soup contains high amounts of protein and fiber. It’s also low in fat and cholesterol.

Legumes, the food group split peas belong to, have also been shown to have various health benefits. A review of various studies that examined the nutritional properties of legumes found that those who regularly consumed legumes had lower cholesterol rates. Some of those studies found that legume consumption was associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, but it wasn’t found among all the studies looked at. [8]

A second study found that those with high cholesterol levels who consumed legumes regularly had lower blood pressure than those who did not. Peas specifically were found to reduce systolic blood pressure. [9] (Systolic blood pressure is the top number on blood pressure readings and measures pressure on the arteries while the heart beats.) [10]

A third study that followed type 2 diabetics found that those who consumed more legumes had lower rates of heart disease than those who did not. Legumes were found to lower blood sugar in non-diabetic adults as well. [11]

Can I add Ham, Carrots, Onions, and Stock to the Pea Soup?

A wide variety of vegetables can be added to split pea soup. Which vegetables you add to your split pea soup will also affect its nutritional content. Carrots are rich in potassium and vitamin A. Onions will add iron, potassium, and vitamin C. Celery will not add many nutrients but is very low in calories and can add to the bulk of the soup while still keeping the calorie count low. [12]

Ham or bacon can be added to split pea soup. They are both very low in carbohydrates and add protein to the soup. However, they will both increase the sodium and fat content of the soup. [13][14] There is also an increased risk of cancer associated with processed meats, ham and bacon. [15] So it’s best to either add both in moderation or to make the soup without them.

Chicken stock is low in calories, high in protein, and will increase the overall flavor of the soup. However, most chicken stocks on the shelf are very high in sodium. [16] You can reduce the sodium count by looking for chicken stocks labelled as low-sodium or sodium-free or making your own chicken stock. Water can be substituted for chicken stock if you’re following a vegetarian diet.

Herbs and spices can also be added to split pea soup to flavor it without salt, ham or bacon, and/or chicken stock. Parsley, thyme, black pepper, and garlic are common additions.

Will Split Pea Soup Spike My Blood Sugar Level?

Split peas have a GI score of 60. That is a moderate level, but the glycemic load of split peas is only 3.7. [17] A typical serving of split peas is smaller than needed to reach the GI score listed. Most of the carbs in split peas come from fiber, which is the sort of beneficial carbs diabetics should be eating.

Even canned split pea soups rarely contain added sugar. So split pea soup is very unlikely to spike blood sugar levels.

Things to Avoid When Having Pea Soup with Diabetes

Split pea soup can be made in a variety of ways, but diabetics who want to consume it can take a few steps to make sure their version is as healthy as possible.

  • Make your own split pea soup if possible. Canned versions are high in sodium, and many are made with bacon or ham, which increases their fat levels.
  • Add lots of vegetables to the soup. They add vitamins and minerals and help make the soup more satiating.
  • The ham or bacon added to many split pea soups adds saturated fat and sodium. It’s better to skip them.
  • Use water or sodium-free chicken stock to make the soup base.
  • Use pepper, garlic, and other herbs and spices to flavor the soup instead of salt.
  • Drain off any fat that might accumulate on the top of the soup.


Are Split Peas High in Carbs?

Split peas have a moderately high carbohydrate level. However, they also contain a great deal of fiber which helps to lower the rate at which the carbs are turned to glucose in the system.

Can a Diabetic Eat Green Beans?

Green beans are very low in calories as well as carbs, so green beans are something diabetics can easily eat.

How to Soften the Split Peas Quickly?

The best way to soften split peas quickly is to soak them in boiling water for about one hour.

Final Thoughts

Split peas, like other legumes, are a great way to add fiber and vegetables to your diet. When they’re made into a soup, they also become a dish that’s easy to prepare and heated up again when needed.

While some additions to the soup, like ham or bacon, can make it less nutritious, plenty of additions will increase its taste and don’t add a lot of sodium or fat.


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  2. Stradley, L. (2015, March 26). Classic Split Pea Soup. What’s Cooking America.
  3. Progresso Traditional Split Pea with Ham Soup. (n.d.). FoodData Central. Retrieved March 14, 2023, from
  4. admin. (2021, February 8). Pea soup: Glycemic Index (GI), glycemic load (GL) and calories per 100g. Glycemic Index Guide.
  5. Split pea and ham soup. (n.d.). FoodData Central. Retrieved March 14, 2023, from
  6. admin. (2021, February 8). Pea soup: Glycemic Index (GI), glycemic load (GL) and calories per 100g. Glycemic Index Guide.
  7. Super soups. (2017). Diabetes UK.
  8. Becerra-Tomás, N., Papandreou, C., & Salas-Salvadó, J. (2019). Legume Consumption and Cardiometabolic Health. Advances in Nutrition, 10(Supplement_4), S437–S450.
  9. Bell, R.C., Zahradka, P., Aliani, M., Liang, Y., McCargar, L.J., Chan, C., Ozga, J., Proctor, S., Wishart, D. and Taylor, C. (2017), Dried beans lower cholesterol and glycated hemoglobin while peas lower blood pressure in adults with mild hypercholesterolemia. The FASEB Journal, 31: 966.13-966.13.
  10. American Heart Association. (2021). Understanding blood pressure readings. American Heart Association; American Heart Association.
  11. Lukus, P. K., Doma, K. M., & Duncan, A. M. (2020). The Role of Pulses in Cardiovascular Disease Risk for Adults With Diabetes. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 155982762091669.
  12. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (2017, December 13). Nutrition information for raw vegetables. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  13. Pork, cured, ham, separable fat, boneless. (n.d.). FoodData Central. Retrieved March 14, 2023, from
  14. Pork, cured, bacon, cooked. (n.d.). FoodData Central. Retrieved March 14, 2023, from
  15. WHO. (2015, October 26). Cancer: Carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat.
  16. COOKING STOCK, CHICKEN. (n.d.). FoodData Central. Retrieved March 14, 2023, from
  17. admin. (2021, February 8). Pea soup: Glycemic Index (GI), glycemic load (GL) and calories per 100g. Glycemic Index Guide.

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