The 4 Best Pea Proteins

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When it comes to protein, peas pack a powerful punch. This vegan and gluten-free protein source contains all nine essential amino acids and is a great source of iron. Studies have even shown that pea protein may help reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol. However, when choosing the best pea protein for you, there are a few styles of protein powders to consider.

Pea protein is made by extracting the protein from ground yellow peas. Unflavored 100% pure pea protein is perfect for adding to recipes without altering the taste. They can be added to smoothies or even used in cooking. Since they're sugar-free and don't contain additives, if you have a sensitive stomach, unflavored pea protein may be a safer bet.

Most plant-based protein blends also include pea protein as a main ingredient, along with other vegan protein sources like pumpkin and chia seeds for an even more rounded dose of amino acids. These blends are often convenient flavored powders, which can be added directly to water for a quick and easy post-workout pick-me-up or added to a shake.

When deciding on a product, taste and texture are key. While some are smooth and creamy, others can be a little grainier. Higher-quality pea proteins are often better-tasting and have a smoother texture, but can also be on the pricey side. For adding directly to water, a smooth, great-tasting pea protein is the way to go, but that may not matter as much for adding to recipes, so figure out how you plan on using it.

The pea protein powders featured here are either 100% pea protein or blended with ingredients like pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, quinoa, or brown rice so they're all great vegan choices.

1. The Best 100% Pea Protein

A big selling point for Naked Pea is the purity of its products. This unflavored vegan pea protein, contains a single ingredient: yellow pea protein. No artificial flavors, gluten, GMOs, or added sugar are in sight, so it's great for recipes such as soups, sauces, smoothies, or baked goods. And, it comes at a great price.

However, if you're looking for a pea protein to add directly to water, this may not be the best-tasting. While it's also available in chocolate and vanilla flavors, some reviewers noted that it has a slightly grainy texture.

2. The Best Organic Blend

If organic is your thing, consider this pea protein blend from Orgain. It's 100% certified organic, meaning it was grown and produced based on the FDA regulations for organic products. With all-natural ingredients, this protein is a blend of pea, brown rice, and chia seeds for protein and then additional ingredients for taste. However, it's free of soy and added sugars.

Mix it directly with water or add it to smoothies. With yummy flavors such as creamy chocolate fudge, peppermint hot cocoa, and peanut butter chocolate, this pea protein blend is tasty without breaking the bank. "The Orgain Creamy Choc. Fudge Protein Powder is so perfectly chocolaty, I have to stop myself from making more than one glass at a time!" one reviewer wrote. However, some people feel the texture is a little chalky so be sure to blend well.

3. The Best-Tasting Pea Protein Blend

If you're willing to pay a little more per ounce for a great-tasting pea protein, look no further. This pea protein from the Genius Brand only comes in chocolate, but people rave about the creamy texture and flavor. One reviewer writes: "This is the smoothest-tasting protein powder I’ve ever used. I’ve tried tons of different powders and none mix as well or taste as good as this one does." Simply mix it with water or add it to shakes or smoothies for a great post-workout treat.

This powder is a blend of pumpkin seed and pea proteins with added Velositol, which helps increase muscle growth and speed up recovery.

4. The Best Protein With Digestive Enzymes

This great-tasting organic protein blend from KOS is made from pea, flax seed, quinoa, pumpkin seed, and chia seed but what really makes it stand out is the added digestive enzymes which give it that extra kick to help you feel great after a workout. Digestive enzymes are believed to help break down fat, carbs, protein, and more into smaller molecules that can easily be digested. The benefit is that nutrients are absorbed more easily by the digestive system, helping your body run more efficiently. If you often feel bloated after a workout, a protein powder with digestive enzymes may help.

As an added bonus, many users say the taste is so good they just add it to water. It comes in two flavors: chocolate and vanilla and while most reviewers love the taste giving it a 4.3 stars overall, a few complain that the texture is a little grainy. However, the big drawback here is the price. It's significantly more expensive than the first organic pick.

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Studies referenced:

Spielmann, J., Stangl, G., and Eder, K. (2008) Dietary pea protein stimulates bile acid excretion and lowers hepatic cholesterol concentration in rats. Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19012614