Does Pea Protein Have Lectins? – Everything You Should Know

Pea protein is one of the best and most sought-after plant-based proteins.

But, since peas and other legumes contain lectins, a controversial protein linked to digestive issues in some people, one question comes to mind.

Does pea protein have lectins?

Let’s find out.

Quick Answer: Does Pea Protein Have Lectins?

Yes, pea protein has lectins.

But that’s hardly all you need to know.

The overwhelming majority of pea protein powders on the market are actually virtually lectin-free.

So, pea protein does not have lectins?

We know – it’s confusing. It’ll make sense in a minute.

How is Pea Protein Made?

Pea protein powder is made from yellow peas.

So, the first step is to harvest and clean the peas. 

Then, they are dried and ground into a fine powder, which is then processed to remove the fiber and starch (and lectins), leaving behind just the protein.

This process is called the extraction process.

After all that, you’re left with pure pea protein isolate, ready to be packed and shipped to a supplement store near you.

What are the Main Ingredients in Pea Protein?

The main ingredient in pea protein is protein – plain and simple.

If you want to get technical, pea protein includes four major classes of proteins: [1]

  • Globulin
  • Albumin
  • Prolamin
  • Glutelin

And, if you want to get even further, here’s what an average pea protein’s amino acid profile looks like:

Essential Amino AcidsAmount
Histidine2 g
Isoleucine3.6 g
Leucine6.7 g
Lysine5.7 g
Methionine0.9 g
Phenylalanine4.4 g
Threonine3.1 g
Tryptophan0.8 g
Valine4 g

Per 100 grams

In addition to pure protein, pea protein powder may also contain trace amounts of carbs, fats, vitamins, and other nutrients that are present in peas or are added to the formula

However, thanks to the extraction process, the share of carbs and fats is usually negligible.

It’s worth noting that some brands may add additional ingredients, such as flavorings or sweeteners, to their pea protein powder. 

So, checking the ingredients list before purchasing is kind of paramount.

How to Ensure Your Pea Protein is Lectin-Free

To be completely honest, the only thing you can do to ensure your pea protein is lectin-free is to trust your research.

That’s pretty much everything you can do.

That said, here are the three things you can do:

  • Check the label: Look for pea protein products that specifically state they are lectin-free or have gone through a process to reduce lectin content. Most isolates will fall into this category.
  • Research the brand: Research the brand of pea protein you are considering and find out more about their processing methods and the quality of their products.
  • Read the reviews: User reviews are a pretty good way to look beyond the marketing and tap into other people’s experiences. If people complain about stomach issues, it’s probably safe to say lectin is present in the product and vice versa.

Who Should Avoid Taking Pea Protein Powder?

There is no right answer to who should avoid taking pea protein powder. 

Individual tolerance and susceptibility to any side effects will vary from one person to another, so we can’t really say for certain.

That said, some groups of people may want to exercise caution when considering pea protein powder:

  • People with allergies: If you have a history of allergies to legumes, such as peas, you may want to avoid pea protein powder.
  • People with digestive issues: If you suffer from IBS or similar issues, you better err on the side of caution and choose a different protein option. Even though lectins are present in trace amounts in most pea protein powders – even a small amount could be enough to cause discomfort.
  • People with autoimmune diseases: Same as earlier, even though lectins are virtually non-existent in most pea protein products, they are known to trigger some autoimmune responses.

Is Pea Protein the Best Option for Someone Looking for a Lectin-Free Protein?

Pea protein is not the best option for a lectin-free protein. 

However, it is a popular choice for those looking for a plant-based source of protein that is low in lectins.

While peas are lectin-rich legumes, the filtration process that these legumes go through results in protein powders containing only trace amounts of lectins.

The same goes for soy protein.

However, as we mentioned a moment ago, those particularly sensitive to lectins are actually better off with something else.

For example, whey protein and egg white proteins are naturally lectin-free and are, therefore, the best option for someone looking for a lectin-free protein powder.

The only thing about these is that they’re not vegan, and if you’re even considering using pea protein, that probably means you’re looking for a vegan option.

Thankfully, hemp protein powder is a vegan option that’s free of lectins.

Another neat thing about it is: hemp protein is a complete protein. Just like the one coming from peas.

So, not only will it fit your plant-based diet, but it will also feed your muscles with all the essential amino acids.

Other Great Ways to Get Protein in Your Diet if You Have a Lectin Sensitivity 

Protein powder is not the only source of protein.

In fact, if possible, the majority of protein in your diet should come from real food sources.

With that in mind, here are some protein-rich foods you can safely consume if you’re sensitive to lectin:

  • Beef (grass-fed)
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Flax seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Pine nuts
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios

Conclusion

In summation, pea protein does contain trace amounts of lectin, which is not enough to cause issues for any healthy individual.

However, if you’re particularly sensitive to this protein, it’s best to find an entirely lectin-free alternative.

That way, you’ll surely grow big and strong without any issues.

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