Despite their name, black-eyed peas aren’t peas at all, although they’re both members of the legume family. Black-eyed peas are more closely related to beans, and those are definitely not Paleo.
Protein vs. Carbohydrates
Vegetarians and vegans love to tout beans for their protein content, but they don’t have that much. They can’t match the protein found in quality meat or pastured eggs and they are much higher in carbohydrates than protein. The protein might make you feel full in the short term, but after a couple hours, those carbs will leave you feeling hungry again and craving more carbs to get your blood sugar back up.
Nutrients vs. Antinutrients
Beans are also touted for their vitamin and mineral content. Black-eyed peas do contain an impressive amount of B vitamins, manganese, phosphorous, iron, magnesium, and zinc, but there’s a catch. Legumes also come armed with phytic acid and lectins: antinutrients designed to protect the plant from predators like us. Phytic acid interferes with mineral receptors in the body, so even though beans may come loaded with minerals, our bodies often can’t access them.
Paleo and Lectins
Lectins interfere with the gut lining, making it more permeable so toxins and undigested foods get into the bloodstream. This sets off an immune reaction that results in inflammation. It’s low enough most people don’t notice it, but chronic, low-grade inflammation is one of the biggest threats to our health, as it contributes to everything from heart disease to diabetes.
Mark Sisson has a more comprehensive description of lectins and why we should be avoiding them.
Chris Kresser has stated, as long as you’re not allergic to beans, and you prepare them properly (soaking and sprouting), you should be able to incorporate them (in moderation) as part of a Paleo diet.