Pea protein powder is a supplement made by extracting protein from yellow peas. It’s typically used to increase the protein content of smoothies and shakes and is a great fit for almost any diet since it’s naturally vegan and hypoallergenic.
Pea protein is a high-quality protein and a great source of iron. It can aid muscle growth, weight loss and heart health. This article reviews the nutrition, health benefits and possible side effects of pea protein powder.
PEA PROTEIN’S NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS
Pea protein powder — or pea protein isolate — is made by isolating the protein from ground yellow peas, forming a beige powder. Nutrition facts can vary between brands, but — for example — two scoops (20 grams) of NOW Organic Pea Protein Powder contains:
- Calories: 80
- Protein: 15 grams
- Carbs: 1 gram
- Fiber: 1 gram
- Total fat: 1.5 grams
- Sodium: 230 mg
- Iron: 5 mg
Pea protein powders offer a variety of nutritional benefits.
High-Quality Protein Source
Pea protein contains all nine essential amino acids that your body cannot create and must get from food. However, it’s relatively low in methionine (1). It’s also a great source of branched-chain amino acids, especially arginine — which promotes healthy blood flow and heart health — and leucine, isoleucine and valine — which promote muscle growth (4, 5, 6).
Still, research demonstrates that pea protein is one of the more easily digested plant-based proteins — just behind soy protein and chickpeas (7, 8).
Rich in Iron
Pea protein powders are also rich in iron.
Most products contain around 5–7.5 mg of iron per serving — roughly 28–42 percent of the reference daily intake (RDI) for premenopausal women and 62–94 percent of the RDI for men and postmenopausal women (9).
However, the iron found in plant foods is less absorbable than that found in animal products (10). This can be improved by consuming pea protein powder with vitamin C or vitamin-C-rich foods like citrus — which boosts iron absorption by up to 67 percent (11).
Since approximately 10 percent of American women are iron-deficient, including pea protein powder in your diet could be a great way to boost your intake of this nutrient (12).
Works With Many Special Diets
Pea protein powder is naturally vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and does not contain any of the top eight food allergens — peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, fish, shellfish, cow’s milk, wheat and soy (13). Therefore, it works with nearly any diet.