Kidney Diet Tips

Green Pea Protein Powder: Kidney-friendly?

In recent years, plant-based diets and protein supplements have gained popularity with the general population. Studies find plant-based diets to have reduced risk of obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. As a result, green pea protein powders are gaining interest with hopes to produce similar outcomes. Is this green pea protein powder good for those with kidney disease though?

Potential Benefits of Green Pea Protein

  • When compared to a sampling of whey and soy protein powders on the market, some makers of green pea protein powders promote it as a more natural supplement with less processing. This can potentially mean less phosphorus and sodium if fewer additives are used.
  • For individuals with a severe food allergy, green pea protein is not derived from any of the 8 most common allergenic foods. These include milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, fish, shellfish and wheat. For this reason green pea protein powder can be a great option for restricted diets.
  • Green pea protein powders are rich in iron. Although plant-based iron is not as readily absorbable as animal-based iron, you can consume it with vitamin C or lactic acid to improve the amount of iron absorbed.
  • Some recent studies have shown that pea protein intake can improve blood pressure in hypertensive rats and humans. This could be related to pea protein containing soluble fiber which is known to have heart-health benefits.

Areas of Concern

  • Peas are a good source of purine. However, this can be a concern for those with gout. Individuals who are susceptible to a gout flare up should discuss with a physician before starting a green pea protein powder.
  • Green pea protein powders, along with many plant-based sources, do not contain all essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Some amino acids are made by our body but others must be obtained through diet which is called essential amino acids. Animal-based protein sources usually contain all essential amino acids and are considered complete proteins. Many people who follow a plant-based diet will try to pair certain protein sources to create a complete protein meal. If you use green pea protein powder and are trying to follow a more plant-based diet, consider adding in chia or flax seeds to create a complete protein. Consult your dietitian for recommendations on adding these items.
  • Like with all protein powders, the protein, phosphorus, sodium and potassium amounts can vary among green pea protein products. As a patient with kidney disease, it is important to see your dietitian or physician before starting a green pea protein powder. They can provide recommendations on the type of green pea protein and the amount needed for you individually. Your needs are based on your stage of kidney disease and can change over time as kidney disease progresses.

Preparing Green Pea Protein Powder

One of the biggest benefits of protein powder is its versatility. Protein powders can be mixed with water, but I personally believe green pea protein powder does not have a good taste with water alone. Here are a few ideas to start your creativity on a high protein treat:

  • Mix in with fruit flavored smoothies
  • Stir into oatmeal, porridge or other hot cereal
  • Add into baked goods like muffins, brownies or waffles
  • Whisk into milk – consider plant-based milk substitutes if following a vegetarian diet
  • Blended into a smoothie and freeze inside popsicle molds

Looking for more information on green peas? Read Food Facts Friday: Green Peas for nutrient information and recipes.

References:

https://www.jrnjournal.org/article/S1051-2276(17)30151-6/pdf

https://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/diet-tips/pea-protein-powder-benefits-why-you-should-give-it-try

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/pea-protein-powder#dosage

Additional Kidney Diet Resources:

Visit DaVita.com and explore these diet and nutrition resources:

 DaVita Diet Helper online meal planner and tracker

 DaVita Kidney-Friendly recipes

 Today’s Kidney Diet cookbooks

 Diet and nutrition articles

Kidney Diet and Nutrition Hub

 Kidney Smart® Classes taught by kidney experts in your area

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Consult your physician and dietitian regarding your specific diagnosis, treatment, diet and health questions.

Samantha Carter MS, RD, LD

Samantha Carter MS, RD, LD

Samantha Carter, MS, RD, LD has been a registered dietitian since 2012 and a DaVita dietitian since 2017. She has previous experience in acute-care hospitals and long-term nursing facilities. Samantha finds her previous work has given her a passion for kidney disease and an understanding in complications associated with the disease. Besides nutrition, Samantha also has a passion for the outdoors, traveling to adventurous places, and playing sports (especially tennis and volleyball).