The list of nondairy milks is getting longer all the time, with everything from soy to almond to hemp milk now available on store shelves. The latest entry into the dairy-free milk category is pea milk, which is made from yellow peas (also known as field peas).To make pea milk, yellow peas are soaked and then ground into a watery paste. The pea milk is then filtered to remove any remaining solids. Pea milk has a slightly sweet, nutty flavor and is creamy and white in color, much like cow’s milk. Pea milk contains more protein than many other nondairy milks, but that’s not the only nutritional advantage it has over other plant-based milks. Here’s everything you need to know about pea milk nutrition, health benefits and side effects.
Pea Milk Nutrition Facts
- Calories: 70
- Protein: 8 grams
- Carbs: 0 grams
- Total fat: 4.5 grams
- Potassium: 13% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Calcium: 45% of the DV
- Vitamin A: 10% of the DV
- Vitamin D: 30% of the DV
- Iron: 15% of the DV
Each of these nutrients is useful for promoting health, but some are particularly noteworthy. For example, pea milk is an excellent source of protein and calcium, which are both essential for bone health (2).
Pea milk is also a good source of potassium, a nutrient that’s important for maintaining blood pressure levels within a healthy range (8).
In addition to these essential nutrients, pea milk also sometimes contains a variety of vitamins and minerals which are added by the manufacturer. These may include vitamin B12, which is important for red blood cell formation, and phosphorus, which helps to maintain the health of your bones and teeth (10).
Health Benefits Of Pea Milk
The nutrients in pea milk offer a number of potential health benefits. Here’s a look at some of the science-backed ways that pea milk can promote good health.
May Help To Build Muscle Mass
Pea milk is an excellent source of protein, which is an essential nutrient for building muscle mass.
In fact, a single cup (240 ml) of pea milk contains 8 grams of protein, which is similar to a cup of cow’s milk and way more than the 1 gram found in a cup (240 ml) of almond milk or the 3 grams in a cup (240 ml) of oat milk (9).
What’s more, the protein in pea milk is highly digestible, meaning that your body might more easily use it to build muscle tissue (7). For people who are looking to add muscle mass, pea milk may be a good choice.
May Aid Weight Loss
Despite its high protein content, pea milk is relatively low in calories. A one-cup (240 ml) serving contains just 70 calories, which is much less than the 102 calories in a cup (240 ml) of skim cow’s milk (9).
What’s more, the protein in pea milk can help to promote feelings of fullness after meals, which may lead to reduced caloric intake and weight loss over time (1).
Lactose intolerance is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide.
If you have lactose intolerance, your body lacks the enzyme needed to digest lactose, the main sugar in cow’s milk. This can lead to digestive problems like gas, bloating and diarrhea after consuming dairy products (5).
Since pea milk is made from peas, which don’t contain lactose, it’s a good choice for people with lactose intolerance.
Low In Carbs And Sugar
People on low-carb diets are restricted in the number of carbs they can consume each day. Cow’s milk contains lactose, a natural sugar that counts as a carb, so it’s not the best choice for people on low-carb diets.
Pea milk is a much better option for people on low-carb diets since it contains zero grams of carbs and no sugar. This also makes pea milk an especially good choice for people with diabetes or impaired glucose control who need to carefully monitor their carb and sugar intake.
Is Good For Your Bones
Bone health is supported by several factors, including calcium intake. Calcium is a mineral that’s essential for strong bones, and pea milk is an excellent source of this nutrient (3). One cup (240 ml) of pea milk contains 45% of the Daily Value (DV) for calcium (9).
What’s more, pea milk is often fortified with vitamin D, which is another nutrient that’s important for bone health. Vitamin D helps your body to absorb calcium, and it also plays a role in maintaining muscle strength (3).
May Be Fortified With Other Important Nutrients
In addition to calcium and vitamin D, pea milk may also be fortified with other important nutrients. These include Omega-3 from algae. Omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain and heart health (6).
Some brands of pea milk also fortify their products with vitamin B12. This is a water-soluble vitamin that’s important for red blood cell formation, nervous system function, and DNA synthesis (10).
Compatible With The Vegan Diet
Vegans avoid all animal products, including dairy. Since pea milk is made from peas, which are plants, it’s a good choice for people following a vegan diet.
Good For The Environment
The production of cow’s milk requires a lot of resources, including land, water and feed for the cows. This can have a negative impact on the environment.
In contrast, pea milk is much more sustainable. Peas are a relatively drought-tolerant crop, so they don’t require as much water as other plants. They also don’t require as much land as cows do.
What’s more, peas are a nitrogen-fixing crop, meaning that they can actually help to improve soil quality. This is good news for farmers and the environment alike.
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Side Effects Of Pea Milk
Though pea milk offers many potential health benefits, there are also a few potential side effects to consider.
High In Omega-6
Peas naturally contain little fat, which presents a texture challenge for manufacturers of pea milk. To make up for this, many brands add vegetable oils to their pea milk products, which can be high in omega-6 fatty acids.
Excess intake of omega-6s has been linked to inflammation, heart disease and other health problems (4). For this reason, you may want to choose a pea milk that’s made with high omega-3 oils like olive oil or flaxseed oil, or have added omega-3s—an anti-inflammatory fatty acid.
However, even if your brand is made with sunflower oil or another high omega-6 oil, the total amount of fat you’re getting in a glass of pea milk is not that much, and you can balance those omega-6’s (which are also essential fatty acids) with more omega-3’s throughout the day.
May Trigger Allergic Reactions
Though pea milk is generally well-tolerated, it may trigger an allergic reaction in some people. The proteins in peas are similar to the proteins in tree nuts and soy, so if you’re allergic to these foods, you may also be allergic to pea milk.
If you have a known allergy to peas or any other food, avoid pea milk and talk to your doctor before trying it.
Sweetened Versions May Contain Added Sugar
Many commercially available pea milks are sweetened with sugar or other sweeteners like cane syrup, agave syrup or brown rice syrup. This can increase the carb and sugar content of these products, so be sure to check the label if you’re watching your intake of these nutrients.
To avoid added sugars, choose an unsweetened version of pea milk or sweeten it yourself with a sugar-free sweetener like stevia.
Final Thoughts On Pea Milk Nutrition, Health Benefits And Side Effects
Pea milk is a dairy-free milk alternative that’s made from peas. It’s a good choice for people who are lactose intolerant or follow a plant-based diet.
Pea milk is also low in carbs and sugar, making it a good option for people on low-carb diets. Plus, it’s a good source of calcium and often fortified with vitamin D, making it beneficial for bone health.
Though pea milk offers many potential health benefits, there are also a few potential downsides to consider. These include the fact that pea milk may be high in omega-6s and may trigger allergic reactions in some people.
If you’re considering adding pea milk to your diet, be sure to choose an unsweetened version and check the label for added sugars.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: mechanisms and possible caveats (2014, nih.gov)
- Dietary protein is beneficial to bone health under conditions of adequate calcium intake: an update on clinical research (2014, nih.gov)
- Essential Nutrients for Bone Health and a Review of their Availability in the Average North American Diet (2012, nih.gov)
- Health Implications of High Dietary Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (2012, nih.gov)
- Lactose Intolerance, Dairy Avoidance, and Treatment Options (2018, nih.gov)
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids (2019, clevelandclinic.org)
- Pea Proteins Have Anabolic Effects Comparable to Milk Proteins on Whole Body Protein Retention and Muscle Protein Metabolism in Old Rats (2021, nih.gov)
- Potassium and Health1,2,3 (2013, nih.gov)
- Unsweetened Pea Milk (2019, usda.gov)
- Vitamin B12 (2021, nih.gov)