Posted on July 02, 2012
A new protein has hit the market recently and has been slated as a good alternative to whey protein. We’re talking about Pea Protein. How does this protein stack up against a high quality whey protein concentrate like Well Wisdom’s Proserum®, and are you getting all of the same benefits that whey protein is so noted for?
Pea protein is made from a type of pea known as ‘pisum sativum’, also known as a snow pea, sugar snap pea or field peas. It’s becoming more and more popular with consumers who are vegan or who may have allergies to milk proteins, but before you jump on the bandwagon, it’s always best to look at the big picture and nutritional information of any product before deciding which protein is most beneficial for you.
First, let’s start off with the amino acid profile of each protein source.
One of the benefits of whey protein are the amino acids, and whey protein has been known for its exceptional amino acid profile! An amino acid is a molecule that is made up of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. They are the building blocks for protein in our bodies and are absolutely critical for us to survive. There are 22 amino acids, 9 of which are considered 'essential' and must be taken in from outside food sources.
Branch Chain Amino Acids
The term 'branch chain amino acid' (BCAA) refers to an amino acid that has an aliphatic side chain. There are three; leucine, isoleucine and valine. They account for 35% of the essential amino acids found in muscle and 40% of the pre-formed amino acids required by mammals.
The table below shows a side-by-side comparison of the amino acids in Proserum® and Pea Protein per 100g of protein:
Amino Acids per 100g Protein
Other Amino Acids
*Note: this is the amount of Cystine (not Cysteine) present in pea protein
Other distinct and highly beneficial proteins found in whey, but absent in pea protein, are Immunoglobulins, Lactoferrin and Serum Albumin. These particular proteins are a powerful defense mechanism for our immune system. They are transporters for antibodies, inhibit bacterial and viral growth and act as a barrier against invaders, among others things. What’s unique about these proteins is that they are only present in milk derived products and cannot be found in any plant source. Also, another amino acid present in whey protein but absent in pea protein is cysteine. Cysteine, glutamic acid and glycine are the three precursors necessary for intracellular glutathione (GSH) production. Glutathione is considered our body's 'Master Antioxidant' and without cysteine GSH production will be lacking. To learn more about GSH, click here.
What is the Bioavailability?
Bioavailability refers to absorption and how much actually reaches your circulatory system. Dietary proteins have different structures which affect their absorption rate into the bloodstream post meal. This rate of absorption determines whether the protein is classified as ‘fast’ or ‘slow’, and has been shown to have a major impact on the metabolic and hormonal response after eating.
Pea protein is considered an intermediate-fast protein, and sits in in-between whey (being the fastest) and casein (being the slowest). The amino acids in whey are quickly taken into the bloodstream and are readily available for protein synthesis in our muscles, whereas pea protein will sit in the stomach much longer before it is able to be used by the body.
According to a study done on participants eating a meal consisting of whey protein, their body’s ability to build and manufacture protein increased 68 percent compared to other proteins tested. This scientific evidence shows that whey protein powder benefits are greater than that of other protein sources.
There is also a scale for ranking a protein’s bioavailability, and the biologic value (BV) of Proserum® is 104 as compared to 65 for pea protein. To view more BV's of common protein sources click here.
What about Allergies?
Many people considering using a pea protein might do so because they are concerned they might have a dairy allergy. An important thing to note is recognizing an allergy from intolerance. A true milk allergy is an immune system response to the milk proteins with possible symptoms being; hives, wheezing and vomiting. It’s also important to note that only 5% of our population has a true food allergy and clinical evidence suggests that vegetables, fruits, tree nuts, and peanuts are responsible for most allergic reactions among adults.
In a study done recently, patients with a peanut allergy were found to be more likely to have a pea allergy due to a reaction of the same protein (vicilin and convicilin) present in both.
Lactose is the sugar found in milk and some people lack the enzymes to digest it, resulting in an intolerance. Interestingly, even people who have an intolerance to milk can tolerate whey protein just fine due to the extremely low lactose level -- which is usually the culprit with a milk intolerance. With all the wonderful alternatives to milk these days such as; rice, almond and coconut milk, you can mix Vital Whey, RenewPro or ImmunoPro with the beverage of your choice and still get the highly sought after benefits that our Proserum® has to offer. Also, if you are on a gluten-free diet you should know that a high quality pure whey protein concentrate contains no gluten and is safe to include in a gluten-free diet. Many people actually find whey a nice alternative to gluten in recipes!
Note: If you are concerned that you may potentially have a food allergy, you should consult with your physician.
We source the milk that becomes Proserum® from Australia where they have prohibited the use of hormone-treatment (rBST) and genetically modified (GM) materials. The cows are grass fed year round and graze on natural pastures allowing them to produce milk that is of exceptional quality. With that being said we are able to offer our line of Vital Whey, ImmunoPro and Bioactive Colostrum that is GMO-free, hormone-treatment-free, disease-free (BSE-free and free of hoof and mouth disease), pesticide and chemical-free. It is also free of irradiation and minimally processed to retain the native protein structures. Also, milk is governed by the USDA who set very high standards for any products being sold here in the US.
With more and more crops each year being raised from genetically engineered seed here in the US, it will become increasingly difficult to regulate and protect products such as a GMO-free pea protein from possible cross contamination. Also, another concern with a vegetable source protein is maintaining the high quality of the soil in which it's grown, and keeping polutants, pesticides and other by products of natural weather conditions out of the soil. Whatever is in the soil is directly taken up into the plant and processed into the final product.
Many large producers of pea protein have warnings stated directly on the label notifying consumers that their product contains a chemical known to cause birth defects and reproductive harm, and also contains traces of lead that is found in fruits and vegetables grown in particular states in the US. Well Wisdom's Proserum® undergoes rigorous testing and tests below even the STRICTEST of heavy metals levels.
Which Protein is Best?
One great thing about living in this day and age, is that we as consumers have many options when it comes to feeding our body. We all want to be healthier, stronger individuals and I love the endless options and combinations we have for helping us get there. Pea protein may be a great choice for individuals wanting to pursue a vegan lifestyle and are needing some extra protein in their diets, or for the individual who has a true allergy to milk proteins. However, for the majority of people wanting the highest quality protein available, you just can't beat the benefits of whey protein. Our Proserum® concentrations of amino acids, biologically active native proteins and other benefits including immune system support is unmatched.