Most people strive for shiny, strong, and healthy hair. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need expensive hair products and treatments to get the beautiful head of hair you dream of.
Whether your hair is long, short, curly, or straight, a healthy lifestyle – specifically, good nutrition – can actually have a dramatic impact on the way your hair feels and looks.
One important nutrient for hair health is protein. Pea protein is one source of protein that can help you meet your protein needs to ensure healthy, beautiful hair.
What is pea protein?
Pea protein is a plant-based powdered protein supplement that has been extracted from yellow peas.
It’s super hypoallergenic and essentially suitable for anyone as it is completely vegan, gluten free, lactose free, soy free, and egg free (1).
It’s commonly added to smoothies, baked goods, and other foods to boost the protein content.
The protein found in peas is a high-quality protein, although it does not have the same amino acid content as animal proteins (2).
Of all plant-based proteins, pea protein is one of the more easily digested ones.
Can pea protein improve hair health?
In short, the answer is yes.
However, before understanding how pea protein can help hair health, it’s important to briefly look at how hair is made.
New cells form and multiply at the base of the root of hair, which then causes hair to lengthen and grow. As the hair strand grows and cells move away from the scalp, they begin to form a protein called keratin.
Just like every other cell in the human body, hair cells contain protein. In fact, they require it to repair cells and continue to make new ones.
Essentially, strands of hair are nearly 100% made of protein.
Therefore, eating enough protein is important for hair growth, so these hair cells can continue to grow and the strands of keratin can be maintained.
In fact, a diet lacking in protein has been shown to expedite hair loss (5).
Continue reading this article to further understand how pea protein may benefit hair health.
How pea protein affects hair health
Now that we understand the link between protein and hair, let’s delve into how pea protein can specifically affect your hair health.
May help prevent hair damage and breakage
As we mentioned before, hair is mainly composed of keratin, which is produced within the hair follicle. Dietary protein, such as that from peas, is important to produce strong, healthy hair.
Pea protein is rich in essential amino acids that play a role in forming a protective structure around hair strands, helping to protect from damage and split hair strands. Plus, it can boost the hydration of each strand.
Ensuring adequate protein may be even more vital when hair is exposed to hot tools and chemical products, which can damage the keratin, leaving the hair feeling brittle and dull.
It may promote hair growth
Not only can pea protein prevent damage, it may even improve hair growth.
In fact, some research suggests that pea sprout extract may reduce hair loss and improve hair density. A small study with 21 adults showed that pea sprout extract used for 2 months significantly reduced hair loss (6).
Pea protein contains other hair-boosting nutrients
Pea protein contains nutrients such as iron and calcium, both of which play a role in hair health.
With inadequate iron, the body can’t produce hemoglobin. Hemoglobin delivers oxygen throughout the body to support the growth and repair of cells all over the body, including hair cells (7).
Supplementing with pea protein can help increase your total iron intake, and further support hair growth. In fact, one serving of our pea protein powder provides 2.85mg of iron, or 16% of the Daily Value.
What’s more, one serving also provides 95mg of calcium, or 10% of the daily value. Calcium is also an important mineral for hair growth.
Other natural ways to help hair growth
By now, it should be clear that protein is essential for healthy hair growth, and not consuming enough protein can contribute to hair loss and damaged hair.
High protein foods include chicken, beef, fish and seafood, eggs, legumes, tempeh and tofu, and yogurt.
In addition to pea protein, collagen can be helpful as a protein supplement to help with hair growth. Some of the amino acids necessary to build keratin can be found in collagen (8).
However, if you are strictly following a plant-based diet, pea protein would be a better choice, as collagen powder is sourced from animal products.
Keep in mind that if you are meeting your protein needs, supplementing with pea protein will likely not provide an added benefit.
Then again, if you are falling short of your protein needs, pea protein may give your locks the boost they need!
How to Incorporate Pea Protein Into Your Diet
Although pea protein can be helpful for hair health, it is important to understand that it is not a complete protein, as it is low in the essential amino acid, methionine.
If pea protein is your main source of protein, it’s important to add in methionine-rich foods in your diet, such as whole grains, and a variety of vegetables. You should be able to reap the benefits of pea protein if you are eating a balanced, healthy diet.
So, most importantly, how can you incorporate pea protein in your diet?
Pea protein can be easily added to smoothies, baked goods, oatmeal, and more.
Try this blueberry cinnamon pea-protein overnight oats recipe. It will not only satisfy your taste buds, but the methionine-rich oats will ensure you are getting a complete protein.
Blueberry Cinnamon Pea Protein Overnight Oats
- 2 scoops Naked Pea
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ½ cup blueberries
- ¾ cup almond milk
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- Sliced almonds for topping
- Combine oats, berries, milk, cinnamon, syrup, and pea protein in a jar.
- Shake well to ensure all ingredients are combined.
- Let sit in the fridge for about 3 hours, or overnight.
- Optional: add sliced almonds, berries, and/or extra cinnamon on top. Enjoy!