Introducing Lupins: Food for the Future
Written by Harriet Smith 'Surrey Dietitian'. Sep 19. 3 min read.
If you’re trying to include more plant-based foods in your diet, you might be interested in lupins.
Lupins are the largest pulse crop grown in down under, and they’re also one of the world’s richest sources of plant-based protein and dietary fibre (1).
This article will explain what lupins are, the nutritional benefits and how you can include them in your diet.
What are lupins?
Lupins are the legume bean of the Lupinus plant.
Lupins have been used as a food source for over 4,000 years, making them an ancient bean. Originating in the Mediterranean, lupins have evolved from 12 species to over 280 species, many of which are now grown in South America and Australia.
Wild lupins are hard seeded, with shattering pods (making them impossible to harvest). They also contain alkaloids; bitter-tasting compounds that act as a mild toxin.
However, cultivation and selective breeding has led to the development of new species such as the Australian sweet lupin, which has a very low alkaloid content and (unlike many other pulses) is safe to consume raw.
Lupins require little water for growth and maintenance. They aerate the soil and add back valuable nitrogen for better growth of other crops (2).
This means that they are good for the environment and are a key part of sustainable agriculture.
Nutritional Composition of Lupins
Lupins are high in protein (40%) and high in fibre (37%), despite containing just 4% carbohydrates (3).
They are often dried and chopped into flakes, such as this one by Revolupin.
Revolupin flakes are similar to couscous – but have 90% less carbohydrates and are gluten-free.
One 40g serving provides half the daily recommended amount of fibre and one-third of an average woman's daily protein intake.
In fact, lupins have (4):
3 x more protein than quinoa
3 x more fibre than oats
At least double the amount of fibre and protein than other legumes
3 x more potassium than bananas
2 x more magnesium than spinach
Figure 1 shows a like-for-like comparison of different plant-based foods and their protein and fibre content, with lupin being one of the top contenders.
Lupins are also a good source of a range of micronutrients including calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron.
What’s more, they are vegan, GMO-free and gluten-free, meaning they’re suitable for most people to include in their diets.
However, if you have a peanut allergy you may need to be careful as lupins come from the same plant family (5).
How to Include Lupins in Your Diet:
Lupins are a popular food in many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries.
Companies such as Revolupin have developed lupin flours and flakes which can easily be incorporated into your favourite recipes.
The best thing is, Revolupin flakes take just three minutes to cook, making them a quick, convenient and healthy food to include in your diet.
Revolupin's roast pumpkin lupin salad with beetroot and feta
Lupins can be used to replace legumes, grains and other ingredients. If you need some recipe inspiration, there are plenty of ideas here.
Revolupin's banana bread
You might like to include lupins in:
Dips and sauces
Crunchy coatings and toppings
Salads and stir-frys
Granolas and bars
Stuffings, burgers and patties
Flapjacks and energy balls
Due to it being naturally gluten-free, lupins are a great substitute for wheat flour and are often used in gluten-free products and recipes.
So, lupins pack a punch in terms of their nutritional content; they’re high-fibre, high-protein and low-carb. They’re also versatile, quick and easy.
Even better, there’s a fast-growing evidence base to suggest that they’re good for us too.