Pea protein is a food product and protein supplement derived and extracted from yellow and green split peas, Pisum sativum. It can be used as a dietary supplement to increase an individual's protein or other nutrient intake, or as a substitute for other food products (e.g. the substitution of dairy milk by pea milk). As a powder, it is used as an ingredient in food manufacturing, such as a thickener, foaming agent, or an emulsifier.
It is extracted in a powder form and can be processed and produced in different ways:
- As an isolate - through the process of wet fractionation which produces a high protein concentration
- As a concentrate - through the process of dry fractionation which produces a low protein concentration
- In textured form, which is when it is used in food products as a substitute for other products, such as meat alternatives
Pea protein is a food source due to its availability, low allergenicity, and high nutritional value. It is a common source of plant food protein.
Pea protein is criticized for its effects on digestion, taste, and high sodium content. Depending on the method of processing, pea protein can contain certain levels of trypsin inhibitors, phytates, and lectins, which can cause negative side effects, such as reduced nutrient uptake and intestinal damage.