Lupin or lupini beans are the seeds of the Lupinus plant, of the legume, or Fabaceae, family. Lupin beans are classified as legumes, they have been known for centuries, even before 2000 BC, and the lupine plant was cultivated in ancient Egypt, ancient Greece and ancient Rome. Nowadays, lupin beans are easily found in supermarkets, even if they are not very well known and consumed, unfortunately we add. In fact, lupin beans are an exceptional food, whose properties are demonstrated by very interesting scientific research. So, let's try to understand why it can be a good choice to include lupin beans in your diet.
Lupin beans, nutrients
Lupin beans are a precious source of protein and fiber, while they are low in fat. Lupin beans also provide minerals, such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and manganese, some vitamins, including B vitamins and vitamin C, phytosterols and antioxidants such as carotenoids and phenolic acids (Pereira et al, Molecules, 2022).
Lupin beans, anti-aging and anti-inflammatory
Lupin beans contain antioxidants that counteract the aging processes and inflammation (Cammilleri et al, Nat Prod Res, 2023). It has been observed that the introduction of lupin beans into the diet helps to keep away some age-related diseases, such as macular degeneration but also neurodegeneration (Okagu et al, Nutrients, 2021).
Lupin beans, diabetes and cholesterol
Lupin beans contain a high quantity of proteins of high biological value (Lucas et al, Frontiers, 2015). Lupin proteins have been shown to contribute to the reduction of body weight, in cases of overweight and obesity, of cholesterol and, in people with type 2 diabetes or in any case altered blood sugar levels, also of blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. However, in people with normal blood sugar levels, no changes in blood sugar levels were observed following the intake of lupin beans. Lupine proteins also help control blood pressure (Pereira et al, Molecules, 2022).
Lupin beans and heart health
As regards the action of lupin beans on heart health, studies are just at the beginning. We certainly know that lupin beans protect the cardiovascular system, helping to keep blood pressure and blood sugar levels under control.
As for cholesterol, lupin beans help reduce total cholesterol, bad LDL cholesterol and homocysteine, an amino acid that, if in high quantities in the blood, is an indicator of high cardiovascular risk. This action is greater in those with severe hypercholesterolemia. The reported amount was obtained by taking 25 grams of lupin protein, corresponding to a 166 grams portion of lupin beans, per day for a month (Baehr et al, Clin Nutr, 2015). Not only that, studies currently conducted only on animals have shown that lupine proteins reduce atherosclerotic plaques with a greater action than proteins derived from dairy products (Pereira et al, Molecules, 2022).
Lupin beans and microbiota
Lupin beans protect the gut microbiota and promote the proliferation of good anti-inflammatory bacteria. Not only that, lupin beans help to regulate intestinal transit (Pereira et al, Molecules, 2022).
Lupin beans, how to take them and warnings
Lupin beans, as we have seen, are beneficial and nutritious. However, care must be taken. First of all, lupin beans can cause an allergic reaction and this is the reason why the presence of lupin beans must always be reported as a possible allergen. However, it is a rare and low intensity allergy (Bryant et al, Nutrients, 2022). Not only that, another fact to take into consideration is that lupins contain alkaloids that, if in high doses, can be toxic to humans. Hence the importance of subjecting lupin beans to particular processes, such as cooking or brining, which inactivate the alkaloids present. Phytic acid, which is an antinutrient that reduces the absorption of some minerals, is present in low quantities in lupin beans and can be further reduced through some processes such as fermentation or extrusion (Pereira et al, Molecules, 2022). Given these considerations, it is always better, therefore, to purchase lupin beans ready for consumption as they have already been subjected to processes for the removal of toxic and anti-nutrient substances. These lupin beans can be enjoyed as a snack or used, either cooked or pickled, as you can find them, as an ingredient to make meatballs or hummus. Lupin beans can also be found in the form of flour, added, for example, to bread, or even in pasta or drinks. It has been observed that having breakfast with bread prepared with 40% lupine flour allows you, compared to when you consume only white bread, to feel fuller for a longer period and to reduce your calorie intake at lunch, which is useful when it comes to having to control your body weight (Pereira et al, Molecules, 2022).