By A/Prof. Antigone Kouris PhD, accredited practising dietitian (APD)
Lupin is an ancient legume which has been consumed throughout the Mediterranean region and Andean mountains for thousands of years. Forming an important part of the Mediterranean diet, lupin is usually eaten cold as a delicious whole bean snack. However, the ancient variety of this legume contains bitter compounds which must be removed by soaking in brine followed by boiling.
How does sweet lupin compare nutritionally to other legumes?Lupins are the world’s richest natural source of combined plant protein and fibre.
Sweet lupin is therefore the ‘king’ of legumes because it has:
- a whopping 40 per cent protein – double the amount of other legumes (except soy which is also 40 per cent protein),
all the essential amino acids (like soy) but is especially high in arginine that has been shown to
lower blood pressure – other legumes lack some amino acids,
- a whopping 30 per cent fibre – double to triple the amount of other legumes,
- minimal starch and a very low glycaemic index (GI) – other legumes are higher in starch with a low-medium GI,
- good fats, including omega-3 fats – also found in soy but not in other legumes.
Have there been any studies on Australian sweet lupin flour?The initial studies performed on lupin enriched foods (containing at least 20 per cent lupin flour) have shown that they have the potential to:
- Suppress appetite.
- Improve blood glucose metabolism by reducing blood glucose and insulin response mainly because of the high fibre and protein content. Note that lupin also has a unique glycoprotein that has been shown in animal studies to sensitise insulin.
- Improve blood cholesterol.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Improve bowel health due to its prebiotic fibres that can promote the growth of good gut bacteria.
- How can Australian sweet lupin flour be used?
- By replacing half the usual flour in recipes with lupin flour, you can reduce the carbohydrate content and GI of baked goods like bread, cakes, biscuits, scones as well as pancakes and chapattis. It can also be used to coat fish, chicken or patties, and can be added to smoothies, yoghurt, dips, soups and breakfast cereals for extra protein and fibre. Lupin flour costs the same as other legume flours (e.g lentil, chickpea). It has much less starch and more fibre and protein which is what makes it low GI.