April 17, 2024
Pea Starch

Pea Starch: A Versatile Plant-Based Ingredient

Pea starch is a powder extracted from yellow peas. As one of the newest starches on the market, pea starch is growing in popularity due to its favorable functional and nutritional properties.

What is Pea Starch?
Pea starch is obtained from the endosperm of yellow peas through a wet milling process. Yellow peas are sorted and cleaned before being soaked, cracked, and screened to separate the starches. The liquid is then cooled to cause the starch to settle out while fibers and proteins remain dissolved or suspended. Finally, the starch is washed, filtered, dried and milled into a fine powder.

On a molecular level, Pea Starch consists predominantly of two carbohydrates: amylose and amylopectin. Amylose molecules are essentially linear chains of glucose units while amylopectin contains branching chains. Pea starch has an intermediate amylose content of approximately 25%, making it more resistant to digestion than waxy starches but less resistant than high-amylose varieties.

Uses in Food Products
Due to its unique functional properties, pea starch can be used in a variety of food applications as a thickener, binder, stabilizer or filler. Some common uses include:

– Soups, sauces and gravies: Pea starch helps thicken liquids into creamy textures without significantly altering flavors. It provides a smoother consistency compared to cornstarch.

– Baked goods: As a substitute for wheat flour in items like bread, bagels and muffins, pea starch aids in structure, tenderness and shelf life. It can boost dietary fiber contents.

– Processed meats: Used to replace phosphates banned in many regions, pea starch acts as an emulsifier to reduce fat and water loss in products like sausages and deli meats.

– Snacks and extruded foods: Pea starch improves processing tolerance and yields in snacks like crackers as well as extruded cereals, pastas and pet foods.

Compared to Other Starches
When stacked up against other common starches, pea starch offers an intriguing nutrient and functional profile:

Gluten-Free: Unlike wheat and corn starches, pea starch is naturally gluten-free making it suitable for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities.

High in Protein: With approximately 5-6% protein content, pea starch provides 20-30% more protein than typical starch sources like potatoes, corn or tapioca.

Low Glycemic: Tests show pea starch elicits a lower blood sugar response compared to wheat and potatoes due to its intermediate amylose level and slow digestibility.

Soluble Fiber: Along with resistant starch substances, pea fiber contributes soluble fiber to aid digestion and heart health. Approximately 20% of pea starch is fiber.

Texturing Power: Its smooth, bland taste allows pea starch to enhance textures without interfering with other flavors the way pulses sometimes can.

Sustainability: Peas require less water, fertilizer and nutrients to cultivate compared to many other crops like corn or wheat.

Health and Nutrition of Pea Starch
From a health standpoint, there are numerous potential benefits to increasing pea starch consumption:

– Fiber Acts like soluble fiber to slow digestion, promote regularity and support heart health by reducing LDL “bad” cholesterol levels.

– Prebiotics Properties stimulate growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut microbiota, bolstering immunity and metabolic functions.

– Low Glycemic Impact Consuming pea starch in place of high glycemic foods may help control blood sugar levels and reduce diabetes and obesity risk over time.

– Plant-Based Nutrients As a legume product, pea starch supplies an array of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that support overall wellness.

– Sustainable Source Pea crops require fewer resources than those of certain other starches, contributing to environmental sustainability.

Future Outlook and Conclusion
With more consumer demand for gluten-free, plant-based, and sustainable food options, the future looks bright for pea starch. Manufacturers are actively exploring new uses across food, beverage, cosmetic and other industrial sectors. As research elucidates pea starch’s health benefits, its popularity as an ingredient and dietary starch alternative will likely continue rising. Overall, pea starch’s eco-friendly nature and functional versatility position it as a valuable nutrient-dense ingredient with auspicious prospects.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it