By Dawna Stone
Senior Vice President
Pea milk, sometimes called a pea protein beverage, is a new plant-made milk that is shaking up the health and nutrition industry. Enriched with vitamins and void of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), pea milk is a great, eco-friendly dairy alternative for vegans, the lactose intolerant, and practically anybody who wants to try something new and healthy.
There are plenty of other benefits when it comes to going dairy-free, including increasing your plant intake as well as lowering your carbon footprint. With many other alternatives including soy, almond, cashew, hemp, coconut, and rice milks, what then is all the fuss about pea milk?
Pea Protein Progression
Pea protein on its own has been trending for some time, but its pea milk form is still quite new. Experts believe its popularity may drastically increase over the next few years. This predicted surge may be credited to the health-conscious and the growing trend involving plant-rich diets.
Pea protein powder is one of the most hypoallergenic protein powders around – it is gluten and dairy free, and does not cause the dreaded bloating side effect many protein powders have. Some of its other astonishing benefits include the following:
1. Aids in Weight Loss
Because of how protein helps build muscle and avoid hunger pangs, pea protein helps people lose weight effectively. It produces peptides and lowers ghrelin (hunger hormone) levels, which means it helps you feel full for a much longer time.
2. Keeps the Heart Healthy
A 2009 Canadian study revealed how pea protein lowers high blood pressure. A separate study published by the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that constant consumption of plant-based proteins decreased the risk of coronary heart disease as opposed to the intake of animal-based proteins.
3. Decreases Kidney Disease Risk
The same Canadian study from 2009 was originally performed to prove how pea protein affects chronic kidney disease (CKD). Interestingly, it was only the pea protein extracted and isolated, then activated with special enzymes, which gave that effect – peas on their own do not provide the same benefits.
4. Increases Muscle Thickness
Pea protein is rich in arginine and l-arginine, the amino acid that helps you build muscle. A 2015 study published by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition proved how the intake of pea protein increased muscle thickness quite similarly to dairy-based protein.
5. Regulates Blood Sugar
A study by the University of Toronto’s Department of Nutritional Sciences suggested that pea protein is a value-added ingredient, meaning it improves glycemic control when it is added to other foods. It does not change a person’s appetite or food intake, nor does it change the glucose levels.
Getting Into the Mainstream
Pea milk is an amazing cow milk alternative, and it has been around for a few years. Just why is this relatively new milk creating a bold impact in the $8 billion industry of dairy alternatives? As mentioned above, pea milk can give cow milk a run for its money when it comes to how much protein is packed in each serving. Other milk alternatives like cashew, coconut, and almond simply cannot compete.
Currently, the two largest brands of pea milk available are from Ripple Foods, Inc. and Bolthouse Farms. However, it is the former gaining a lot of traction, especially after Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. recently invested $65 million. It is Ripple’s largest addition to their capital to date, increasing their total funding to a record $108.6 million.
Two Silicon Valley-based scientists, Adam Lowry and Neil Renninger, took on the protein problem by creating Ripple. This little-known beverage company takes split yellow peas to create a plant-based milk that tastes great, is packed with nutrition, and uses significantly less natural resources.
When Lowry and Renninger created the company in 2014, they had a vision: the responsible use of technology and innovation for the sake of health, so that great and healthy food is not just nutritious but also delicious. “We’re going big with Ripple Foods, and that means building process and innovation at big scale,” Lowry said in an interview.
Ripptein, the main pea protein used in Ripple’s various products, is present in their entire line. It is a trademarked protein that is in their famous pea milk, as well as their Greek yogurt alternative, and their own version of half & half.
In their promotional video, Lowry and Renninger explained that while pea protein tastes like peas, they have found a way to extract the pure plant protein, which is flavorless. “The planty flavor you typically taste in pea protein isn’t coming from the protein itself, but from other impurities coming along for the ride,” Renninger clarified.
Pea milk and other sources of pea protein are present in many products today. In addition to Ripple Foods and Bolthouse’s offerings, there are several pea-based products from other companies. Ben & Jerry’s has a few non-dairy ice cream alternatives like their famous Chunky Monkey variant. Daiya has dairy-free pea protein Greek yogurt alternatives as well. Orgain offers a line of vegan protein shakes containing pea protein, among others. Vega also has protein mixes for shakes and smoothies with pea protein in them.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, the appeal of cow’s milk and other dairy milks seem to be curdling. The average person today drinks 18 gallons a year, nearly half of the 30-gallon average of the 1970s. With more non-dairy choices present from companies like Ripple and the like, access to healthy yet delicious milks shouldn’t be a problem.
Senior Vice President
Dawna Stone is the author of seven books, a business owner, certified health coach, motivational speaker, and creator of the 5-Day Detox and the 14-Day Clean-Eating Program. Dawna appears regularly on local and national television. She has appeared on the Today show, Martha, MSNBC, HSN, and morning news programs on NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox. Dawna is a highly sought-after speaker and has done speaking engagements for Chobani, Disney, American Heart Association, Mass Mutual, Wharton Business School, Women’s Entertainment Television, PGA Tour, Super Bowl Leadership Forum, Susan G. Komen, and many more.