Step aside, soy. Pea protein is the new ingredient in town, and here's why it's so popular.
Pea protein is the trending plant protein on supermarket shelves, with the number of new food products containing pea protein more than tripling from 2012 to 2013, according to Nutraceuticals World, a magazine covering the dietary-supplement and food industries. Made from field peas and often sold as split peas or ground into powder, pea protein contains essential amino acids and is highly digestible, says Frances Largeman-Roth, RD, author of Eating in Color. It’s also a great protein source for vegetarians, vegans, and people with soy and dairy allergies. Because it’s fairly neutral in taste, pea-protein powder has a wide variety of uses. Try adding a scoop (¼ cup has about 24 grams protein) to your smoothie or stirring some into pancake batter for a protein-packed breakfast. Or warm up this winter with split-pea soup (1 cup cooked split peas contains 16 g protein).