Pea protein comes from yellow peas (Pisum sativum) which is a valuable source of protein. There is a high proportion of digestable organic matter and ability to metabolize energy if harvested appropriately. It is easy on the stomach, allergen free and is usually produced without GMO's (Genetically Modified Organisms). Because pea protein is easily and slowly digested it can help you feel full long after consumption. Research demonstrates satiety or the feeling of fullness, is associated with the release of certain gastro-intestinal peptides. These peptides stimulate your nervous system to start or stop you from eating. Higher PYY (peptide YY) levels promoted by pea protein delay gastric emptying and therefore could provide an increase in satiety. Another peptide, ghrelin, which is primarily secreted by the stomach, helps stimulate your appetite. Studies have shown lower ghrelin levels indicate a delay in the return of your appetite after a meal. And as pea protein promotes lower levels of ghrelin, the potential for you to feel full could increase.
Yellow peas contain essential and non essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of bodily tissue and muscles. Yellow peas are high in lysine and arginine, making pea protein beneficial for active lifestyles.
Lysine is not made in the body and must be consumed through the diet. Lysine is the precursor of carnitine, the molecule which is responsible for converting fatty acids into energy and helping to lower cholesterol.
Lysine also appears to help absorb calcium and plays an important role in the formation of collagen which is the building block of connective tissue such as bones, cartilage, skin, tendons. It supports the normal growth and development of children and plays a role in the maintenance of a healthy immune system. Lysine deficiency is usually rare in most American diets but strict vegetarians, vegans or elite athletes can be at risk. A lack of dietary lysine can lead to fatigue, nausea, dizziness, loss of appetite, agitation, bloodshot eyes, slow growth, anemia, and reproductive disorders. The united states has not set daily individual amino acid requirement levels , however,studies have indicated that the estimated average requirement for lysine for a 70kg human ranges between 800-3000mg/day.
Yellow pea protein can provide a supplemental source of dietary protein for vegetarians and/or vegans who cannot use animal proteins. Whey protein, because of its derivation from milk (watery portion of milk that separates from the curds when making cheese), is not consumed by vegans. Pea protein is a good alternative to whey protein powders for addition to smoothies or drinks for supplemental protein. There has been recent studies and increasing evidence on the benefits of plant based diets. Plant based diets can help reduce the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and the risk of early death. Recent reports from the American Heart Association found that people who received 70 percent or more of their food from vegetables, fruits and whole grains had a 20 percent less risk of dying from heart disease.
Pea protein is also great for people who have food allergies to egg, milk and soy-derived protein. Lactose is a sugar substance in milk and can cause severe allergic reactions such as gastrointestinal side effects like nausea, bloating, diarrhea or vomiting. Yellow pea protein contains no gluten in comparison to the wheat protein of other types. Pea proteins are usually organic and contain very little or no artificial ingredients.
My favorite reason for using pea protein as an alternative to whey or soy is that it is more environmentally friendly. Fewer resources are necessary to cultivate yellow peas thus saving water and other crops. In addition, the nitrogen that is produced by the peas is returned to the soil and decreases the need for fertilizer.
Is there a downside to pea proteins? Unlike whey proteins, pea proteins are plant based and do not contain all the amino acids that our body needs to function to its potential. Therefore, pea protein should be combined with grains, nuts or seeds and for the non vegan/vegetarians you can chose to use animal protein.
An example of a combination is making a smoothie with pea protein powder and peanut or almond butter. Although there are plenty of pea protein supplements out there nothing beats eating the protein in whole food. You can easily make a hearty soup out of the yellow split peas! One of my favorite pea protein powders is Swanson certified 100% organic pea protein powder.