Dr. Thomas Dwan - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Thomas Dwan

Is Pea Milk Bad For You?

Also Known As: Pea protein milk, Plant milk, Non-dairy milk



Short answer

Pea milk is not bad for you; in fact, it offers several nutritional and environmental benefits. It’s a high-protein, hypoallergenic, and sustainable plant-based milk alternative that contains essential amino acids, low carbohydrates, and is often fortified with vitamins and minerals. While it's suitable for most people, those with pea, legume, or FODMAP sensitivities should proceed with caution. Always check labels for additives if you have specific dietary concerns.



Recommended Alternative

Long answer

Nutritional Profile and Benefits of Pea Milk

Pea milk, a plant-based milk alternative made from yellow peas, has gained popularity due to its sustainability and nutritional advantages. It is prized for its high protein content relative to other plant-based milks while being naturally lactose-free, nut-free, soy-free, and gluten-free. To thoroughly understand the benefits of pea milk, we must delve into its nutritional profile. Keep in mind that while the nutritional content can vary slightly by brand, the following components are commonly found in commercial pea milk products.

Protein Content: One of the standout benefits of pea milk is its protein content. A single serving (approximately 240ml or 8 ounces) typically contains 8 grams of protein. This makes it one of the more protein-rich plant milks on the market, comparable to cow's milk and much higher than almond or rice milk. Protein is essential for muscle repair, immune function, and the production of enzymes and hormones.

Essential Amino Acids: Pea milk contains all nine essential amino acids that the body cannot synthesize and must obtain from food. This is significant for vegetarians and vegans, who may need to pay closer attention to getting enough of these amino acids in their diets.

Carbohydrates and Sugars: Unsweetened pea milk usually contains a low amount of carbohydrates, with most options having between 0-2 grams per serving, and minimal sugar unless sweetened during processing. This makes it a favorable option for those monitoring their carbohydrate intake or managing blood sugar levels.

Calories: In terms of calorie content, pea milk tends to be moderate, with unsweetened varieties typically containing between 70-100 calories per serving. This is similar to cow's milk but can be a lower-calorie option than some soy or oat milks.

Fat Content: The fats found in pea milk primarily consist of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. These are heart-healthy fats that can promote good cholesterol levels. Each serving generally has around 4.5 grams of fat, with no trans fat or cholesterol.

Calcium and Vitamin D: Most pea milk options are fortified with calcium and vitamin D, essential for bone health. Fortification levels are comparable to that of fortified cow's milk, thus serving as a suitable alternative for those looking to maintain bone density without consuming dairy.

Other Vitamins and Minerals: Beyond calcium and vitamin D, pea milk is often fortified with other vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, iron, and potassium. These nutrients support various body functions, including vision, oxygen transport, and muscle contractions.

Dietary Fiber: While not typically known for fiber content, some brands of pea milk contain small amounts of added fiber. Dietary fiber can enhance digestive health and help in maintaining a feeling of fullness.

When analyzing the nutritional benefits of pea milk, it's important to reference studies and expert opinions. According to research, pea protein has been found to be a high-quality source of protein that is well digested. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that pea protein is as effective as animal-derived proteins in promoting muscle thickness when combined with resistance training 1. Additionally, its hypoallergenic properties make it a safe choice for individuals with certain food sensitivities or allergies.

For people with specific dietary needs or choices, such as vegans or those with lactose intolerance, pea milk offers a nutrient-rich alternative to dairy without significant nutritional trade-offs. It provides a balance of macronutrients and essential micronutrients that support a healthy diet.


  • 1. Babault, N. et al. (2015). Pea proteins oral supplementation promotes muscle thickness gains during resistance training: a double-blind, randomized, Placebo-controlled clinical trial vs. Whey protein. The Journal of Nutrition, 145(1), 148-155.

Pea Milk Allergy and Sensitivity Considerations

When addressing the health implications of new food items like pea milk, it is crucial to discuss potential allergies and sensitivities. Unlike more common milk alternatives derived from nuts and soy, which are known allergens, pea milk is a relative newcomer to the scene and may offer a viable option for those with certain dietary restrictions.

However, as with any food product, there can be individual responses that need to be considered:

  • Pea Allergies: While less common than nut or dairy allergies, pea allergies do exist. Individuals with known sensitivities to peas should approach pea milk with caution. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and can include hives, swelling, difficulty breathing, and anaphylaxis in extreme cases.
  • Cross-Reactivity: Some individuals with peanut allergies may experience cross-reactivity when consuming pea protein because peanuts are legumes as well. This cross-reactivity can cause similar allergic symptoms. Consulting with an allergist before trying pea milk might be prudent for those with legume allergies.
  • Gastrointestinal Sensitivity: Pea protein can cause gastrointestinal discomfort in some people, including gas, bloating, and diarrhea. This is often due to the presence of fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs) in peas, which can be problematic for individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Consideration for Histamine Intolerance: Some people have histamine intolerance and may react to pea protein with symptoms similar to allergic reactions, such as headaches, hives, or digestive issues. Peas are among the foods with higher histamine content, and monitoring intake is essential for those with this condition.

Given these considerations, it is important to note that an allergic reaction to pea milk is possible, though it may be less likely compared to more common allergens. For those wary of allergies or with a history of sensitivities to legumes, a discussion with a healthcare professional before incorporating pea milk into the diet is recommended.

Current research on pea milk and allergies is still in its infancy; however, observational data suggest a lower incidence of allergic reactions compared to other plant-based milk substitutes. The hypoallergenic nature of pea protein often marketed by pea milk manufacturers should be viewed through the lens of individual health profiles and with careful attention to one's own body's responses.

Finally, when introducing any new food into the diet, it's wise to start with a small amount to gauge the body's reaction, particularly when dealing with food sensitivities or allergies. By staying informed and attuned to your body's signals, pea milk can be a safe and nutritious dairy alternative for most individuals.

Additives in Commercial Pea Milk Brands

While pea milk naturally offers a number of nutritional benefits, such as being lactose-free and having a low carbon footprint compared to dairy milk, it's essential to scrutinize the additives that some commercial brands include in their products. These additives are often introduced for various purposes including improving taste, texture, shelf-life, and nutritional content.

We'll dive into some of the common additives found in pea milk brands and discuss their potential impacts on health.

  • Emulsifiers and Thickeners: Substances like gellan gum and sunflower lecithin are used to improve the texture and prevent separation in pea milk. While these additives are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA, some studies suggest that emulsifiers might disrupt gut microbiota and could be linked to inflammation and digestive disorders in some individuals.
  • Sugar: Added sugars can be found in flavored varieties of pea milk, which can significantly increase the caloric content and potentially contribute to health issues such as obesity and type 2 diabetes if consumed in excess. Always check the label for added sugars.
  • Flavorings: Natural and artificial flavorings are added to enhance the taste. While natural flavors are derived from plant or animal sources, artificial flavors are synthesized chemicals. Though these are also generally considered safe, there is ongoing debate regarding their potential long-term health effects.
  • Preservatives: Some pea milk brands might include preservatives to extend shelf life. Examples include calcium sorbate or potassium sorbate. Majority of preservatives used are safe in small quantities, but it's a good idea to consume products with minimal preservatives to avoid potential negative effects on health.
  • Fortifying agents: Many brands add vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus to pea milk so that its nutritional profile more closely resembles that of cow's milk. This practice is beneficial, especially for individuals with dietary restrictions, but it's important to be mindful of the daily recommended intake levels to avoid overconsumption of certain nutrients.

It's critical to read product labels carefully and research the additives included in pea milk brands. Look for pea milk that has the shortest ingredient list with recognizable items. Opting for organic pea milk can often reduce the number of unwanted additives. Additionally, consulting the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) database or reaching out to a dietitian can provide further insight into the safety and necessity of these additives.

When considering if pea milk is bad for you, account for any personal sensitivities or allergies to specific additives. Understanding these ingredients will assist you in making an informed decision about whether commercial pea milk is a suitable choice for your dietary needs.

Pea Milk and Environmental Sustainability

When discussing the impact of pea milk on health, it's vital to consider not just the nutritional aspects but also its environmental footprint. As consumers grow more conscious about the sustainability of their dietary choices, the production and consumption of pea milk present an intriguing case. Here, we will explore the environmental sustainability of pea milk in terms of land use, water consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and biodiversity.

Land Use: Pea milk is made from yellow split peas, which are legumes known for their low land requirements. They have a remarkable ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere into the soil, effectively reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers. Studies have shown that legumes like peas can use half the amount of land compared to almond production and significantly less compared to dairy farming for the same volume of milk produced.

Water Consumption: Pea plants are drought-tolerant and require significantly less water than dairy cows or almond trees. According to research, producing a liter of cow's milk can require over 600 liters of water, while producing pea milk requires a fraction of that. By choosing pea milk, consumers may help lower the demand for water-intensive crops and dairy production, contributing to water conservation efforts.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The carbon footprint of pea milk is notably lower than that of traditional dairy milk. Greenhouse gas emissions from peas are mainly associated with the manufacturing and transportation processes, but they are inherently lower as peas do not produce methane like cattle. This aspect is crucial as methane is a potent greenhouse gas with a global warming potential far greater than that of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.

Biodiversity: Diversification of crops, including the cultivation of peas, can enhance biodiversity. In contrast, large monocultures associated with some plant-based milk alternatives or cattle grazing can lead to a decline in biodiversity. The cultivation of peas contributes to crop rotation practices, which benefit the soil and the broader ecosystem by supporting a range of wildlife and insect species.

In assessing the sustainability of pea milk, it becomes clear that it stands out as an environmentally friendly option. Its lower resource demands and reduced environmental impact make it a smart choice for eco-conscious consumers. Importantly, while pea milk's sustainability is promising, ongoing evaluations and comparisons with other plant-based milks are essential to fully understand its place in sustainable agriculture and food systems.

By incorporating current research and aligning with expert opinions on sustainable food production, it's apparent that pea milk not only caters to personal health but also contributes positively to planetary well-being. This synergy between personal choice and global impact makes pea milk a forward-thinking option in our dietary repertoire.

Comparing Pea Milk to Other Plant-based Alternatives

When assessing pea milk within the landscape of plant-based milk alternatives, a detailed comparison is crucial to understand its standing in terms of nutrition, allergen considerations, and environmental impact. This scrutiny is intended to illuminate the distinct features that may influence consumer choices.

Nutritional Comparison

Pea milk flaunts a nutrition profile that sets it apart from its plant-based competitors. Here’s a look at how it stacks up against almond, soy, and oat milk:

  • Protein Content: Pea milk rivals soy milk with about 8 grams of protein per serving — significantly higher than almond milk and oat milk which typically contain around 1 to 2 grams per serving.
  • Carbohydrate Content: Pea milk generally contains fewer carbohydrates than oat milk, making it a favorable option for those on low-carb diets. However, almond milk might still be the lowest in carbohydrates.
  • Caloric Density: While pea milk is more calorie-dense than almond milk, it's usually akin to soy milk and less calorically dense than oat milk.
  • Calcium and Vitamin Content: Most plant-based milks, including pea milk, are fortified with calcium and vitamins such as D and B12. However, the fortification levels can vary by brand, so it’s important to read labels closely.

Allergen and Dietary Restrictions

Unlike nut-based and soy milks, pea milk is naturally hypoallergenic, making it a safer alternative for those with nut or soy allergies. Moreover, it is gluten-free, which cannot be guaranteed in oat milks due to cross-contamination concerns unless certified gluten-free.

Environmental Impact

Plant-based milks typically have a lower environmental footprint compared to cow's milk, but the degree varies among them. Pea milk touts a sustainable badge due to the crop's nitrogen-fixing abilities, enriching the soil without the heavy need for fertilizers. In contrast, almond milk production is criticized for its high water usage, and soy milk raises concerns about potential deforestation and GMO crop proliferation.

Taste and Culinary Use

The creamy texture of pea milk is often lauded for its similarity to cow's milk, which makes it suitable for a range of culinary applications, from frothing in coffee to cooking and baking. In contrast, almond milk may be too watery for some recipes, while oat milk adds a distinct flavor that may not be desired in all dishes.

It's essential to consider individual dietary needs, preferences, and values when selecting the best plant-based alternative. Pea milk, with its own unique set of characteristics, may be an ideal choice for many seeking a nutritious, hypoallergenic, and environmentally friendly option.

Frequently asked questions

Yes, pea milk can be considered a complete protein source for vegans as it contains all nine essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own. This is particularly important for those on a vegan diet to ensure they are getting a full range of amino acids for proper bodily function.

Pea milk has a significantly lower environmental impact than dairy milk. It requires less land and water to produce, and the cultivation of peas emits lower greenhouse gases, particularly methane, than cattle farming. This makes pea milk a more sustainable choice for environmentally conscious consumers.

Pea milk is not known for its fiber content, as it typically has little to no fiber unless specifically fortified with added fiber. If you're looking to increase your dietary fiber intake, it's advisable to incorporate other fiber-rich foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes into your diet.

Unsweetened pea milk can be suitable for people with diabetes, as it contains minimal sugar and carbohydrates, which can help in managing blood glucose levels. However, it's essential to monitor overall diet and consult with a healthcare provider for personalized advice.

Ask a question about Pea Milk and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • gastrointestinal discomfort
  • mild allergic reactions

Ingredients to be aware of


  • rich in protein
  • contains essential amino acids
  • low in carbohydrates
  • moderate in calories
  • healthy fats
  • often fortified with vitamins and minerals
  • may contain dietary fiber
  • allergen-friendly
  • sustainable choice
  • comparatively higher protein than most plant-based milks

Healthier alternatives

  • unsweetened pea milk
  • organic pea milk
  • other plant-based milks
  • lactose-free dairy milk

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Ripple Non-Dairy Milk

  • 8g Pea Protein
  • Shelf Stable Convenience
  • Non-GMO Project Verified
  • Plant-Based & Vegan
  • Gluten-Free
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 12-18-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 12-18-2023

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