Protein Powder: Dirty Little Secrets
When it comes to choosing a protein powder, consumers are looking for clean protein to complement their already healthy lifestyle choices. Clean Label Project tested 134 of the top-selling protein powders for how clean they were. They saw elevated levels of heavy metals in both organic and conventional plant-based powders, including Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, and Mercury as well as BPA leaching from packaging into the finished product. View their results here.
Why would plant-based powders have more heavy metals? It’s in part because some plants are powerful phytoremediators, meaning that they can pull toxins out of contaminated soil and water into the plant. These are crops, like mustard, hemp, peas and sunflower, are planted to clean toxins from soil so it can be used for farmland, housing, playgrounds or just generally to lower the toxin load. Sunflowers have been shown to remove 95% of radiation from contaminated soil in 20 days, which would have take 30 years without their help. They were used in thee aftermath of both Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disasters.
The plants are then harvested and treated as contaminated waste. The problem is if your farmer doesn’t know he has heavy metal or pesticide contamination in his soil, he may plant a crop like peas to sell in the marketplace and not realize the plants are pulling in these toxins. Turn those peas into protein powder and you could end up with a surprising amount of lead and glyphosate in your healthy smoothie. And, these toxins can cause a myriad of health problems, including cancer, lowered IQ, anemia, abdominal pain, rashes and vertigo.
At ZEGO, we believe our customers have the power to change the food industry for the better. To do that, you need insider knowledge, like the problem of toxins in protein, so you can demand cleaner food. We want to provide you this information and a platform to project your voice. We aim to change the culture of the food industry — establishing your right to know what’s in your food — so it better supports you, your community, and our planet.
ZEGOs organic Plant Protein is made simply with 100% sacha inchi seeds and no flavors or sweeteners. Sacha inchi seeds have the best amino acid profile of all the plant proteins on the market, including pea, rice, soy, and hemp (other plant proteins are typically low in lysine and tryptophan). Our protein powder is a “whole food,” meaning no chemicals or enzymes are used to isolate the protein (all other protein powders are derived with a chemical or enzymatic process). We simply squish out the oil, lightly roast them, and grind them to a powder. And, we purity test our protein to lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic and over 400 pesticides and herbicides likes glyphosate to ensure it meets our quality standards.
Sacha inchi is grown in Peru and Thailand and source ours from Peru because we are concerned about the amount of toxic chemicals used historically in Thailand. But, the government of Thailand is working to regenerate their farmland and rid their environment of the toxic chemicals that have destroyed much of their fertile land. We are hoping they have great success, and we will keep an eye on their progress. They are the first country to look moving their entire kingdom to regenerative agriculture, and hopefully will pave the way for many more to come.
Our Protein Powder Allergen Statement: Top 12 Allergy Free Facility, No Soy, No Peanut, No Tree Nuts, No Sesame, No Dairy, No Egg, No Mustard, No Sea Creatures, No Wheat, No Gluten, No Sulfites, No Corn On Equipment, No Preservatives
You can see the results on our Purity Testing section or by scanning the QR code on the package.
Colleen Kavanagh is the founder and CEO of ZEGO, a company that seeks to inspire changes in the food system so it better nourishes all people and our planet. She spent 20 years working to better nourish low-income children through improved public policies and programs, working for Congressman George Miller in Washington, DC and various anti-hunger nonprofits. She founded the nonprofit www.abettercourse.org. In 2013, she decided the only way to better nourish the most vulnerable is to leverage consumer demand through the marketplace to regenerating the food system and protect the most vulnerable. And that, lead to her starting ZEGO.