Pea Protein vs Soy Protein

by Katherine Baker, 11 October 2017

If you’re looking for a plant-based protein powder to add to your diet (or to increase your protein of your daily smoothie), you may be overwhelmed by the various vegan protein choices on the market. With so many to choose from, it’s wise to learn about the different vegan protein powders available before making any purchases.

Soy protein and pea protein are two very popular proteins on the market, and learning their similarities and differences can help you select the protein that is right for you. Read on to learn what is soy protein, the difference between pea protein and soy protein nutritionally, and concerns with soy protein. If you are looking to find out the differences and benefits of pea protein and soy protein, read on to learn more so you can make an educated decision about which vegan protein choice is the best option for you.

Table of Contents

What is Soy Protein?

Soy protein powders are made from soybeans, a widely grown crop.

Soybean crops are subsidized, meaning federal dollars are placed towards ensuring their growth in the United States. For this reason, soy products, including soy protein, are often inexpensive compared to other forms of protein.

Once soybeans are harvested, the protein is isolated from soybean meal¹ that has been dehulled and defattened. The remaining soy protein is then separated and dried, resulting in a high protein concentrated substance (i.e. soy protein powder).


Pea vs Soy Protein Nutrition: Is Soy Protein Good for You? Is Pea Protein Good for You?

Soy protein offers a major advantage over many other plant-based proteins: it contains a full amino acid profile². Most other plant-based protein powders on the market do not offer a complete array of all essential amino acids necessary for human nutrition, giving soy protein an amino acid edge over many other vegan protein powder competitors.

Pea protein also has a nearly complete amino acid profile. Clean Lean Protein, a high-quality, premium golden pea protein isolate is a 100% vegan protein that contains all the essential amino acids.

Both soy and pea protein are wise choices when in the market for high-quality, plant-based proteins rich with amino acids.

Soy protein is often praised for its health benefits. Soy contains isoflavones³, which are a family of phytochemical compounds, are often touted for their health benefits. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration4 has also authorized the use of food labels to make health claims associated with soy protein and a reduced risk of coronary heart disease, based on studies that have shown intake of 25 grams of soy protein each day in combination with a low-fat diet results in reductions of LDL cholesterol levels.

Some studies have examined soy isoflavones and their potential use in prevention5 of breast cancer and the reduction of hot flashes, but data is not overwhelmingly strong to support such claims. Pea protein has its own unique health benefits. In addition to being highly bioavailable and satiating, pea protein is rich in vitamins D, E, K, and A. To learn more about pea protein, check out this article.

Both soy and pea protein powders typically contain between 17-22 grams of protein per 100 calorie serving (exact amounts vary between brands). Clean Lean Protein by Nuzest, for instance, contains 18-21 grams of protein per serving, depending on flavor.

Concerns with Soy Protein

Soy protein is subject to some controversy. First, many people express concern that soy crops in the United States are often genetically modified 6 (contain GMOs). As mentioned above, soy production occurs at a large scale and is subsidized, and is therefore relatively inexpensive. Consequently, soy is prevalent in many other foods from salad dressings to granola bars to preservatives, causing some to monitor and limit the amount of soy they consume. Peas are classified as a sustainable crop as they use less land and water than alternatives and add vital nutrients like nitrogen back into the soil. So, from an environmental perspective, pea protein is the ideal choice over soy. 

Moreover, some people avoid soy protein as it may impact hormonal levels, as isoflavones produce weak estrogen-like substances in the body. However, studies7 have shown that soy protein does not significantly increase circulating estradiol levels in humans consuming soy. Lastly, soy is one of the 8 most common allergens.8 Many who are allergic to soy must avoid soy protein powders completely. Pea protein has less controversy surrounding its production, health impacts, and genetic modification. It is also relatively hypoallergenic, and easily digestible for most.

So What Vegan Protein Powder Do I Choose?

Whether you select pea protein, soy protein, or a combination of the two, informing yourself about various plant-based proteins on the market can help you decide which vegan protein choice is best for you. If you are interested in some excellent products made with pea protein, check out Clean Lean Protein by Nuzest. 

Want to start a plant-based or vegan diet?

We know, it can be quite overwhelming. But It doesn't have to be. There are many guides to a plant-based diet. Try our 7-day plant-based meal plan that gives easy tips and tricks to starting a plant-based or vegan diet. Join us here for free.

References
  1. http://www.fao.org/3/t0532e/t0532e07.htm
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2071798
  3. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/soy-isoflavones
  4. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=101.82
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11075748
  6. https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/adoption-of-genetically-engineered-crops-in-the-us/recent-trends-in-ge-adoption.aspx
  7. http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/cebp/14/4/805.full.pdf
  8. http://farrp.unl.edu/informallbig8

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