Pros and Cons of Pea Milk

“My family recently replaced our lowfat milk with pea milk.  We’re trying to do our part for the environment and the advertising suggests that pea milk is much healthier than dairy. I’d love to know the health benefits and drawbacks of pea milk.”

If they come up with any more nondairy milk options, they’re going to need a second aisle for them at my grocery store!

One of the latest entrants into this category is a beverage made from yellow peas.  Like soy milk, pea milk boasts more protein than most other nondairy milks. With 8 grams of protein per serving, it’s comparable to cow’s milk. Legumes such as soybeans and yellow peas a also a relatively complete source of protein, although not quite as complete as dairy.

The product I reviewed was also fortified with added calcium and vitamin D to make it comparable to cow’s milk. They’ve also thrown some omega-3 (from algae) in there for good measure, although the amount appears to be fairly minimal.

Peas contain almost no fat, and so vegetable (sunflower) oil has been added to make this milk creamier. They’ve put in enough to make this comparable to 2% milk.  Pea milk is much lower in saturated fat, which some people would consider an advantage. On the other hand, it’s higher in omega-6 fats, which most of us don’t need more of.

Like most nondairy milks, this brand comes in a number of sweetened and flavored varieties; I suggest sticking with the unsweetened. Even though the sweetened versions contain less sugar than plain milk, it is added cane sugar as opposed to naturally-occurring lactose (milk sugar).

Finally, there are a couple of gums and gels added to improve texture and mouth feel.

If you’re into “clean” labels and minimally processed foods, cow’s milk has a bit of an advantage here. But if reducing your consumption of animal products is a priority, unsweetened pea milk would be a good option.

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