What the FLIK is...Pea Protein?
Vegan, vegetarian, and plant-forward diets are steadily increasing in popularity. When implemented properly these diets can offer many health and environmental benefits. One challenge of these eating trends, especially vegan diets, is getting enough protein. That is where pea protein comes in.
What the FLIK is Pea Protein?
As the name suggests this protein source comes from peas. Peas are typically sold in 2 forms: fresh commonly known as green peas, or dried commonly known as split peas. Pea protein is typically derived from dried peas.
Benefits of Peas
Peas offer many benefits beyond their protein. Peas are an excellent source of fiber. They are also rich in iron, zinc, potassium, B6, and B12 which are all important nutrients in a vegetarian diet. As far as protein, peas are high in the amino acid (building blocks of protein) lysine, a key nutrient in plant-based diets. It is important to note that the fiber content and some vitamin/mineral content is lost when whole peas are used to make a protein supplement.
Peas are also an environmentally friendly protein source. They grow well in North America reducing the carbon expenditure needed to transport them. Additionally, their shallow root systems require minimal amounts of water to grow.
Uses of Pea Protein
- Egg Free Products: Pea protein is growing in popularity as the base for vegan mayonnaise and vegan egg substitutes.
- Cow’s Milk Substitutes: The number of cow’s milk alternatives have grown dramatically with non-dairy milk coming from soy, nuts, and oats. Pea based milk is a new alternative that offers similar protein content to cow’s milk with the benefit of being environmentally friendly. There is a slight “beany” taste that you would have to get past to enjoy pea milk.
- Meat Alternatives: Pea protein is the base of many new very popular vegetarian/vegan burgers like The Impossible Burger. Again these are great sustainable alternatives to animal-based burgers. However, the other ingredients that give them the “meaty” texture like coconut increase the saturated fat content of so make sure to check out the nutrition label.
- Dietary Supplements: Pea protein is an excellent vegan protein supplement for shakes or smoothies. It is also free of dairy, eggs, and soy. Pea protein supplements are often lower in calories than traditional whey-based supplements making them appropriate for weight maintenance but not great for weight gain.
Allergic reactions to pea protein have been seen in children with peanut, tree nut, chickpea, kidney-bean, and lentil allergies. Pea protein should be avoided if you have any of these allergies.
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